When it comes to Jurassic Park, I'm only interested in the classic original movie. I didn't care for Jurassic World, and as such I've been a bit wary of any media based on the franchise and its modern sequels. But I've always found it an exciting and novel concept to run a theme park showcasing real-life dinosaurs. That's undeniably awesome. Just imagine if we had the opportunity to visit these magnificent creatures under safe conditions, interact with them, and see them traipsing around and enjoying life in the present. That's always been the draw for me. Not the Jeeps, the "clever girl" quips, or even Jeff Goldblum, magnificent as he is. The idea of seeing dinosaurs is magical to me.
Unfortunately, though this idea has been around for quite some time, with the original Jurassic Park's film release dating back to 1993, no one has created a truly engrossing game out of the experience. That's why I was so excited to try out Frontier Developments' Jurassic World Evolution, a business management game where you're tasked with actually opening up, managing, and operating your own dinosaur theme park. It's the exact thing I've been wanting to experiment with for years, and it's finally here, devoid of frustrating trappings and the Jurassic World content I feared would contaminate it. It's a veritable extension of the Jurassic Park series and universe overall, and most importantly, it's an incredible amount of fun.
From the opening moments of the game, you're treated to the dulcet tones of Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm. In fact, he acts as your guide through your new venture as Jurassic Park owner. It's so awesome that he decided to take part in this game adaptation, and you hear a whole lot from him as your adventure goes on. When you're acquainted with your new role as park owner, you'll be dropped straight into the first of five different islands you'll have to maintain, all as part of the park. Your job from here is to incubate and hatch various new species of dinosaurs, build facilities to entertain and protect those who enter your park, and other areas to house researchers and teams to keep the island running smoothly.
If you've ever played games like The Sims or titles in that genre, it's easy to feel quite at home in Jurassic World Evolution from the very beginning. You're walked through construction, dinosaur creation, and the various divisions that comprise the park staff, some of whom will offer various contracts for you to complete that will end up adding cash to your coffers and raising your reputation. All of this is well and good, and smartly constructed, but the real draw is bringing dinosaurs to life.
I had the time of my life finding my first pieces of dinosaur DNA and bringing them to life, eventually unleashing them into the first gated-off area to frolic around. There's not too much to the process, but it's so rewarding to watch your newly hatched babies entering the world. If you're so inclined, you can take the familiar Jurassic Park Jeep and cruise around into the gated-off areas to interact with them, and take photos that can be sold for a decent amount of money. You can get around the entire park this way, in fact, and I found it a cute little easter egg that let me really get into my park ownership role.
But as fun as it is to start slinging dinosaurs into captivity, my personal favorite part of the game (watching them eat is adorable), you've got to pay closer attention than that. You can't just throw down fences and incubate dino eggs all day long. You also need to send out teams to excavate additional DNA from dig sites in terms of fossils, extract more DNA for additional species of dinosaurs, keep the park in working order, and make sure your park inhabitants are kept safe, fed, and happy. They can even get sick, which can be a scary time since you'll grow especially fond of the critters.
You also need to make sure those attending your park have plenty to do, places to eat and drink, and ways to view the dinosaurs. Much as in games such as Theme Park and Roller Coaster Tycoon, your first priority is attracting and keeping consumers. They're going to bankroll all of your efforts, of course, so it's important to make sure they're satisfied. You can do this by building observation decks, hotels, restaurants, and plenty of other attractions for the regular folks to mingle around. You also need to make sure you've got paths and clear sections of the park for the "normies" to mill about in while you take care of important matters, like swallowing up their cash and using it to incubate and hatch a T-rex, one of the crowning moments of the entire game.
Unfortunately, things aren't always going to run smoothly. Just like regular animals, dinosaurs can throw temper tantrums, try to escape, and even attack other dinosaurs. Your number-one priority is guest safety, so if one of your creatures jumps a gate or tries to escape, you'll have to tranquilize them and mobilize a team to keep them from attacking anyone or otherwise causing any harm. Personally, I found it hilarious to watch my park guests try to escape the park when these situations happened, but I also like to lock my Sims in rooms without toilets, so that could just be me.
There's so much to do in Jurassic World Evolution that it'll make your head spin. Dozens of hours in, I'm still discovering new tidbits that I had no idea were there upon beginning my journey through the park. I'm finding that paving my own way through designing and running my own attractions has been an experience preferable to the new Jurassic World movies, for one, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say about a video game bearing the license's name. But here we are, and I'm still having a blast putting my park together.
Frontier Developments has crafted an excellent game that's worthy of fans' time and attention, and I can't wait to get back into it. If you're interested in creating your own park, you can pick up the game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC now.