When will InGen learn? jurassic park went bad before it even opened, the proposed San Diego branch resulted in a T-rex stomping through the suburbs, and Jurassic World only managed a few successful years before all hell broke loose. In Evolution of the Jurassic World, the folks behind the park aren’t just planning a resort: they want five, one for each of “Las Cinco Muertes,” the sinister-named Five Deaths Islands. The idealistic billionaire in charge of the business this time around isn’t John Hammond or Simon Masrani, it’s you. It’s a recipe for chaos.
Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, luckily Evolution the creators of Frontier Developments do it – they are the developers behind Roller coaster creator, and their pedigree in the park sim genre guarantees that Evolution has a relative depth of play beyond a simple cheap IP cashout. Players are tasked with rotating a variety of plates simultaneously – as well as maintaining your park and hatching new dinosaurs, customers need to be happy with facilities and stores that increase your profit margins, fossil teams need to be Digged in to Extract More DNA and research teams must be deployed to improve the safety of your park, increase your genetic knowledge, and create medicine for sick dinosaurs.
The first island, Isla Matanceros, is basically a training ground, and the start is a bit slow. As with many simulation games, there are menu mazes to give you an idea – Evolution offers prompts in the form of goals to complete, but what you need to do is not always immediately obvious. Spend the bumpy first few hours, and there is genuine satisfaction in sending your first dinosaurs into the park, or watching patrons fill the aisles and spend ridiculous amounts of money on your overpriced dinosaur suits. Once a park is created you can move around at ground level as well – taking control of rangers’ vehicles puts you in third-person mode, allowing you to enter enclosures to administer medicine to sick dinosaurs , restock feeders, and photograph your majestic beasts for a little extra cash. If it starts off simple, later islands (including Islas Nublar and Sorna from the films) throw additional challenges into the mix – storms can knock out your fences, unleash your attractions, and send punters flocking to shelters (or the jaws of the death) – and keeping everything from really going up in the air is a lot of fun.
While Evolution gets a lot of good results, some areas need upgrading. Driving ranger vehicles is fun, but not having hungry carnivores chasing you in their enclosures feels like a missed opportunity. Jeff Goldblum brings an extra touch of quality, delivering lines as Dr Ian Malcolm with his unique, uh, Goldblumian speech patterns – but the writing itself definitely feels like a first draft. Then there are the island maps themselves, which can be frustrating and limited, making it difficult to create beautifully landscaped parks. And as with any simulation game, the control scheme lends itself best to the PC, however Evolution plays perfectly well on consoles.
Evolution of the Jurassic World isn’t a game-changer, but it’s not a monstrous hybrid either – it’s a fun and competent park simulation that should provide several hours of casual play for Jurassic fans. If you are in this camp you would be hard pressed not to approve of this park.