Of course I want to make my own Jurassic Park. I love theme parks. I love the movie (some of its sequels are even almost OK). So a game that tasks me with creating my own dinosaur zoo sounds like a blast.
That’s just what Jurassic World: Evolution does. The new park-building simulator is coming out for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on June 12. It’s from Frontier Developments, which has proven its expertise with the excellent Planet Coaster.
But Planet Coaster is a game that focuses on customization. It lets you make almost anything you want, even that Mega Man theme park you’ve always dreamed about (and yes, I did).
Jurassic World: Evolution is more a simulation game. You’re only making one kind of a park. You know … a Jurassic Park. It’s more about making sure it’s successful.
What you’ll like
Spare no expense
Jurassic World: Evolution fulfills its basic promise. You create and manage your own Jurassic Park. This includes planning and layout — making sure every building how power and that guests have their food and entertainment needs filled. And it also means making sure you have dinosaurs.
The gameplay loop is satisfying. You need money to grow your park. You make money by building new attractions, especially dinosaurs. The challenge comes in spending the money you have to make sure your profits grow, while putting out the fires that spring up along the way.
It’s also not as simple as just buying new dinosaurs. You need to make a building that can send out expeditions across the world to dig up new fossils. A separate building then extracts DNA from the fossils, unlocking new dinosaurs. Another building creates the dinos, which then exit out into a pen.
It gives you a lot to manage with a great reward: new dinosaurs. Seeing one of them enter your park is awesome. The music, camera, and animations help make these creatures feel majestic.
Keep the guests uneaten
Dinosaurs require plenty of upkeep. You have to feed them and make sure their pens give them enough space. Each species has its own requirements. Some want more grassland, while others will want more trees. Some like to be in packs, while other would rather be solo.
And, of course, some of them want to eat the others. So you’ll probably want to keep the carnivores locked up alone.
On top of all that, dinosaurs have a nasty habit of trying to break out. If they’re uncomfortable (you forget to feed them or aren’t meeting their needs), they’ll break down their walls. Then they’ll start eating the guests. So on top of managing your park’s finances, research, and electricity, you also need to make sure all of those dinosaurs are happy.
Hey! Jeff Goldblum does a lot of voice work in this game!
What you won’t like
Lack of customization
The simulation stuff keeps you engaged and makes you feel like a smart little problem-solver. But your park won’t feel like much of a unique creation. You only have access to a handful of buildings. If your guests are hungry, you’re going to build the same fast food joint or normal restaurant in every park. Aside from all the dinosaurs, you don’t have a lot of options.
You can decide where things go. You can decide where the cages and monorail tracks go. But your parks aren’t going to look very different from anyone else’s.
I’m also disappointed that the game follows the Jurassic World aesthetic. It’s sleek instead of the more safari look of the original movie. This makes sense since this game is supposed to help promote the new movie, but I wish I had more customization options to make something that looked like the original Jurassic Park.
Jurassic World: Evolution is more of a pure sim game than Planet Coaster, but it does a good job of taking advantage of its license. It keeps things complicated enough to feel interesting without letting it feel out of your control.
And it’s got lots of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are great, and it’s a lot of fun having your own menagerie of them to manage.
Jurassic World: Evolution comes out on June 12 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The publisher provided us with a PC code for this review.