I think it’s safe to say anyone that has seen a Jurassic Park or World movie has at least thought about having a pet dinosaur. I doubt that the logistics of actually taking care of one was also part of that fleeting fantasy though. Well thankfully, someone else did over at Frontier Developments, and we can now continue exploring their work in Jurassic World Evolutions 2. This single-player park management simulator is now available across PC, current generations PlayStation and Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch getting some love too.
Jurassic World Evolutions 2 is set in the current day of the Jurassic film universe, with returning characters from both the original trilogy and the more recent releases. There is something for everyone with Campaign mode for a more streamlined narrative being the central experience. This mode is a great starting point for players looking to learn the ropes, while returning modes, Sandbox and Challenge, can be used to either relax and build at your own pace or sweat it out under strict conditions. Last but not least is the exciting new addition named Chaos Theory, which places you in iconic moments across the movie counterparts.
For this review, I had the chance to experience the latest iterations on the Xbox Series X with a controller. It is notable that you can indeed connect a mouse and keyboard to the Xbox if you prefer a more traditional experience. Since I am new to the game and haven’t played the first game, I started out in campaign mode to get a handle on the controls. Viewing the world from a top-down perspective I could easily manoeuvre the camera around with the thumbs sticks and zoom in and out freely, albeit a little bit slower than I could with a mouse. A slide-in menu on the left side of the screen could pop in and out that gave me access to building, people, and statistic management at the touch of a button.
I was impressed with how intuitive the controls were. Building was as simple as selecting and lining up with the bumper buttons for which way you want to face and confirm. Creating the vegetation of the enclosures for the herbivores to eat was achieved by selecting the desired fauna which then let you click and drag across the area as it magically sprouted and planted trees in its wake. Using the terraforming tools, I could create deep or shallow terrain with the same method and then fill it with the water tools to create places for dinosaurs to drink or swim.
To my surprise, there were options to take direct control of ranger vehicles that could provide a multitude of tasks. I was able to take control of a helicopter to scout out the vast stretch of lands and then turn it into a mini-game of sorts to shoot tranquilliser darts at the roaming herds. Being able to man the Ranger 4WD units to get up close and personal in the enclosures was a really cool perspective to see these creatures hanging out. Of course, I was able to assign tasks to these vehicles as well to automate the process but it wasn’t a complete and full-proof system to leave them unattended.
When it came to the actual management system of the parks themselves, it left a little to be desired. It was hard to place my finger on it at first but there are certain elements that just didn’t offer much other than the sensation of padding out gameplay, like the process of hiring scientists with specific skill sets replaced the old method of building a research center and being done with it. It made you micromanage the person as overworking them or underfunding them could result in some failures. It does give you more to do but it wasn’t as enjoyable as I think they wanted it to be, especially when you could be creating a thunder dome to battle dinosaurs if you got bored and wanted some chaos. I felt the most engaging form of micromanaging was when the dynamic weather hit, messing with the power and dinosaur enclosures.
For such a big named franchise, it was a little lackluster when it came to the wow factor in level designs, though there were definitely situations where with the right crafting and planning, you could snap an awesome photo with the in-game photography tools. The starting area was set in the desert far from civilisation, for good reason I guess, but it did give an empty feeling looking at the outskirts of the park.
Despite the various settings, from snow-covered mountainsides, rough and coarse deserts, and bustling rain forests, it felt a bit flat and bland. There was a lot of love put into the design of over 70 species though, you could even name each one, which was promptly exploited by naming my first stegosaurus Pointy McPoint Face.
The biggest draw to this game is definitely the namesake, and while still being completely functional, Jurassic World Evolutions 2 falls short of its expectations. The most unique part of the game was reliving select moments from the movies, but unless you saw the movies, it was just another place to build a park.
Depending on your preference it could be an exciting thrill ride, but my experience with it was filled with long stretches of tedious events. I will complement the finished product as a whole, as it does offer multiple difficulties to test the management skills of the veterans.
- 70 unique dinosaur species to capture and raise
- A range of environments and dynamic weather system
- Different modes offer both slower and faster paced game options
- Scientists micro management
- Large maps ultimately still felt empty
- Not much flair to keep interest