Jurassic World Evolution seeing its initial release way back in 2018 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was developed and published by Frontier Development and is in the Business management genre similar to recent games like Two Point Hospital. This sees you manage and develop your own Jurassic Park in this instance taking influence from the more recent Chris Pratt films than the original films. Coming to switch for the price of £49.99 and releasing on the 3rd November 2020 with all its DLC (which there are a lot). With a total of 10 DLCs on offer, three of which is more traditional and larger narrative-driven DLCs in the form of World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park, Jurassic World Evolution: Claire’s Sanctuary, and Jurassic World Evolution: Secrets of Dr Wu each DLC adding new islands to run and manage each with their own new challenges to overcome as well as four Dinosaur Packs and the Raptor Squad Skin Collection. So get ready to “Spare no expense” as we walk with Dinosaurs.
As soon as you start Jurassic World Evolution you’re immediately greeted with the iconic soaked terrifying roar of a Tyrannosaurus harpering back to a certain potty scene in the 1993 film and the classic John Williams original score which will have you singing “Holy Fu#$ing Sh#! It’s a Dinosaur” in no time. No doubt bringing back your nostalgia of the films and love for all things Dino like it did for me.
You have a number of options right from the get-go you allowing you to jump straight into one of the three campaigns on offer here. First up, Jurassic World Evolution which I can imagine taking place in the newer trilogy acting as the main and base campaign seeing you save Las Cinco Muertes restoring Jurassic World to success and discovering Dr Wu’s secrets. Doing this campaign you also move through various islands, for a total of seven each island with their own unique challenges and twists
Claire’s Sanctuary is the second campaign and the most different of the three on offer, returning to the Isle of Nublar work with Claire Dearing to construct a Sanctuary rather than a Park for patrons to protect the ancient creatures that reside there already before Mt.Sibo erupts.
Return to Jurassic Park this third and final campaign is an alternative history scenario finding you fixing the mistakes of the past with the original Park. With the help of Dr Alan Grant, Dr Elle Sattler, and Dr Ian Malcom, all who are voiced by the original cast returning and reprising their roles from the original movie combined with the effort to remodel and skin various things in this campaign to look like the original film only leads further reinforce the already pretty strong sense of nostalgia. Fancy playing a little of one and dipping your feet in another? Go for it! There are also separate save slots for each campaign meaning no confusion as to which campaign you were last on a welcome quality of life improvement.
Sandbox mode allows you to build the ultimate park without the worries or restrictions of things like money or completing certain tasks, it definitely has the content for those itches. The challenge modes take place on the various islands you would have already played through allowing you pick from Easy to the appropriately named Jurassic difficultly and finishing these also allow the unlock of some different and unique skins for your dinosaurs too which is a nice little addition in a world of microtransactions.
So Jurassic World Evolution isn’t light on content and gets the aesthetic and the feel of its namesake IP correct but what else? Well, I’m happy to say the gameplay here is good too and progression and unlocks are well-paced each island unlocking a little more. You can acquire these with time and money and sometimes meeting certain requirements for example to unlock new types of dinosaur you are required to find and then extract DNA from fossils. This means you have to send out expeditions around the globe first and only after gathering a 50% mapped genome and there is plenty to discover especially with all the DLC on offer once you have the 50% are you allowed to attempt to incubate a new dinosaur. Of course, these can also be modified with other animal DNA making the animal more aggressive or have a better immune response (which means fewer dinosaurs getting sick) or something as simple as changing the markings on the animal. This eventually leads to the ability to do cross-breeding and create hybrids and release new dinosaur species a great way to bring some much-needed attraction to your parks. Cooler and more variety in dinosaurs means more interest but of course, this comes with its own risks, so be warned! The neat thing here is each type from Raptor to Ankylosaurus have their own preferences and requirements to be met failure to meet these runs more risk of the dinosaurs trying to get out something you definitely want to avoid particularly when it comes to carnivorous dinos as they will make a short meal of any staff or guests (which can be somewhat hilarious). Which they will take any opportunity to do by either breaking out or by storms breaking enclosures or power sabotage to name a few.
There are ways of preventing this from happening like more secure fences, emergency shelters and storm warning shelters to ranger and helicopter teams who can do a variety of tasks to fixing buildings and fences or resetting power plants from sabotage. As well as to do simple tasks such as taking photos which can sometimes be quest requests by advisors, security, entertainment and science departments. When it comes to increasing your standing completing these task can come with a variety of benefits. These can include extra dig teams when increasing your science standing as well as the improving ranger teams and helicopters who are important to allow you to tranquilise, transport and medicate dinosaurs. They can also keep the dinosaurs happy and fed by replenishing feeders these teams are all essential to your workforce and will be needed throughout the game. You can get skins for these too which is great as you can control the rangers and helicopter and perform all these tasks yourself in the third person showing off the skins you’ve unlocked and it is a greatly rewarding view, seeing your park from ground view first hand and of course, your creatures and their pretty incredible well-done animations making them really feel weighty and alive.
The research of course doesn’t end there, in total there are eight trees to explore from genetics and security measures to new attractions like arcades and gift shops. All of these helping your park in various ways most of these can be micro-managed by setting what they sell and how much that item is sold for increasing your funding for other improvements or research elsewhere. Of course, all these structures need to be managed with power having no power much like in the films quickly leads to problems like holding onto your butts from the rather obvious and large rampaging dinosaur in the room and the annoying but enjoyable “ah ah ah” playing when trying to access a research centre with low power an obvious nod to the hacked security systems caused Denis Nedrys program leading to the downfall of the park in the first film.
Controlling your park and navigating between the various tasks as you need to is made easy by the intuitive sidebar and UI making this strategy and management game work surprisingly well on a console even more surprisingly on a handheld like the switch. There are the occasional issues with building placing being a little finicky and when the park got rather busy or a lot was going on like rampaging dinosaurs and storms I could have a slight screen freeze or frame drops for a few seconds. For the most part, the game looks and runs great, of course, the low detail blurriness and pop in is significantly more noticeable in handheld mode as well as performance particularly when zoomed all the way out. Being in docked mode helps alleviate this and gives generally better fidelity it also does a pretty good job at compensating and scaling up the detail and focus when you zoom in. But for a switch game, it isn’t too bad to be fair to it considering how much can be going on at anyone time.
The greatest thing with Jurassic World Evolution is that you can tell its developers really have a love for the source material and it has been realised here to its fullest potential. This can be seen from the building design to the dinosaurs and animations even the music and sounds through and through this feels like Jurassic Park which is, of course, great for a game which is aiming to be just that and for people who love Dinosaurs and anything prehistoric and of course the franchise itself. Even better with the gaming coming to Switch and having all its DLC on offer too, there are easily hours of content for both the docked and portable user it running fairly well in both modes. I found myself loosing my own hours easily to maintaining and building parks striving for that five-star rating myself going to and from work and of course at home when docked and I’ve barely even scratched the surface to everything on offer here, it’s definitely a game I’ll be returning to often just for fun or to improve my score or just to kill some time between journeys. For Dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park franchise is something you’re into this is one I can easily recommend even for the £49.99 asking price on the eshop.