Title: Jurassic World Evolution
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher/Developer: Frontier Developments
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: June 12
The Grade: B
JWE Haiku Review
Its like SimCity
But with dinosaurs! Oh my!
Nothing can go wrong?
What is it? Gamers finally get to be their own John Hammond, as players are put in charge of operations of Jurassic World at Isla Nublar and its surrounding islands. Players get to construct attractions, research facilities, and bioengineer new dinosaurs. Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Ian Malcom, guiding players along the way. Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong also lend their vocal talents as Claire Dearing and geneticist Dr. Henry Wu.
Highs: Building your own city, zoo, or roller coaster certainly is fun, but there’s nothing quite like being in charge of your own dinosaur theme park. The level of control players have in “Jurassic World Evolution” (JWE) is incredible, with gamers being able to make major decisions on every aspect of the park.
Players are pulled in three different directions - science, entertainment and security - by three chatty NPC’s who only have their department’s interest at heart. It’s your job to meet each of their needs to help the park be successful. It’s a strange balancing act at times (the head of security insists I let a dino loose to test protocols) but it sure is fun.
When you’re not busy trying to keep your demanding staff happy, players get to be creative. You can research and modify genomes on dinosaurs, take to the air in a helicopter, ride around in a jeep, give your dinos names, and even set them loose on unsuspecting tourists. Of course, some people might want to put two gruesome dinosaurs in the same cage just to see what’ll happen. You can do that too, if you’re so inclined.
Throughout your journey, you’ll be treated to words of wisdom by Ian Malcom. Jeff Goldbum can do no wrong in my book, so it was a treat to hear him pop up and give his input. He actually has a lot more dialogue than I was expecting. Hearing from Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong was a nice touch too. It helps the game feel like a true part of the Jurassic World universe.
Lows: JWE requires a lot of patience. Sending out an exploration team, upgrading buildings or enclosures, and incubating your dinosaurs requires players to sit and wait. To be sure, there are plenty of other things to do while you’re waiting, and you only have to do so for a few minutes, but making aspiring Hammonds twiddle their thumbs at all is a bit confusing. All it does is slow the pacing down.
While I appreciated not having my hand held while playing JWE, due to its complex nature, I would have liked a little more guidance. I was preoccupied when an icon came up to teach me how dispose of dead dinos and it took me quite awhile to find it on my own. Also, some of the mission wording doesn’t match the necessary menus. I had to upgrade three different items to get the right one I needed for a mission because it was labeled poorly. This kind of guesswork took some of my enjoyment out of the game.
The Grade (B): While there are times that it can test your patience, “Jurassic World Evolution” is custom made for those who dream of running their very own dinosaur theme park. It’s clear Frontier Developments has spared no expense and put a lot of love into this title.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.