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Jurassic World Evolution OT - Life Finds a Way


TwinIon
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71% on Metacritic

 

 

Despite not being particularly fond of the recent installments, the Jurassic franchise is one that has always held a special place in my heart. I've also been known to fall prey to the allure of a few building simulators. Sim City 2000 was one of my first real gaming obsessions, and I put more than my fair share into roller coaster tycoon. So with even middling reviews, I jumped straight into Jurassic World Evolution, and while it's a game with some very notable flaws, I got my money's worth. 

 

 

If you have been known to fall prey to that "just one more turn" mentality, you'll be familiar with the kind of addiction that JWE tries to instill. There are a set of systems built into the game to insure that you're always working towards something. You always have very concrete goals that you're constantly working on, in addition to the general desire to build a bigger and better Jurassic Park. There are three different factions that you'll need to appease as you build your park: Security, Science, and Entertainment. Each faction will offer quick "contracts" that can be as simple as building a specific building or incubating a specific dinosaur, or slightly more general in needing to reach a particular park rating or guest count by any means. Each contract completed will raise your profile with that faction. Each faction will also have one mission with a set of more difficult requirements to fulfill.

 

All of these systems mean there are constantly things to do. You're always working on multiple things at once. You can choose not to do contracts or missions, but there are various rewards for doing so, and they synergize into a very pleasant feedback loop that keeps you hooked in the game.

 

The game isn't about building a single park either, but a series of them across different islands. Each time you start with different challenges and have new missions to complete. The island progression means there's a real sense of advancement in the game, beyond just building a better park with more dinosaurs. You'll want to get each park to five stars and complete the missions to unlock everything the game has to offer.

 

While those gameplay loops are very satisfying and well done, the core gameplay of actually building the park is not quite as successful. There are limited options for types of buildings you can create, and their effect at times seems minimal. There aren't difficulty sliders as far as I could tell, and it's actually quite easy to appease the guests, even given the limited feedback you receive. I found that a lot of my optimization was unnecessary. At a certain point, I was building things better for myself, not because it seemed to affect my score in a meaningful way.

 

As you build out your park, you'll undoubtedly come across the single most frustrating part of the game: dealing with the terrain restrictions. Each island is rather small and has more elevation changes than it often appears to have from a mostly top down viewpoint. Buildings have to be placed on mostly level ground, but it's often very unclear why a certain building can't go in a specific spot, even after leveling the terrain. It's very frustrating that it doesn't show you what part of the building is having trouble; the whole thing turns red, and you get a very general error.

 

The other major frustration is the system of dinosaur comfort. When dinos are too uncomfortable, they'll break out. Give them too little green space or too little forest, too many or too few of their species or others, or not enough food or water and it's just a matter of time before they break out of their pen, no matter what fence you have. It's annoying that you can't see these limits before incubating a dino, so you might release a single one when it's only happy when in a group of 3 or 5. Getting just the right amount of space for larger dinos can also be a real pain. It seems to be a system of what the dino can "see", not what is available to them in their pen. So if you build a large enclosure with plenty of the forest they crave, but they are in a big open field, they might stay there and break out before wandering over to the forest. It's an opaque system that can really frustrate, especially when you run out of space.

 

Aside from building the park, managing comfort, and researching new dinos, you'll spend a lot of your time sending out rangers to refill feeders. In the least satisfying busywork of the game, you're constantly told when a feeder runs out, and to tell a ranger to go refill it. There's a cost to refilling the feeder, but the rangers can't get hurt and they can't accidentally let a dino out, so there's not much thought that needs to go into it. You just have to select your rangers and tell them to replace the feeders. In a big park, this can become rather tiresome.

 

You do have the ability to manually drive a ranger jeep, and some contracts will require you to. It can be a good bit of fun, even if the driving physics were clearly not at the top of the developer's priorities. You can also pilot a chopper that is used to tranquilize a dino when it needs to be moved.

 

As I mentioned before, the game is rather easy. After you get a park off the ground, money is rarely a concern. The first hour or two of a new island you have to watch your budget carefully, but after that I almost never needed to think about my income. I quickly racked up a few million in reserve and couldn't spend it fast enough. Even after forgetting to let guests out of storm shelters or losing a few dozen guests to escaped raptors, my income would recover so quickly that those issues were hardly noticeable. That last bit of optimization to get a perfect 5 star rating can be a little illusive, but for the most part the game is firmly on the easy side.

 

Overall I think it's a rather poor building simulator that is packaged in a compelling theme and visual package with a set of systems designed to keep you playing. For me, that was enough. I enjoyed moving through the parks, getting better at building and finding better strategies for park layouts. After about 40 hours I'd completed the primary missions and gotten five stars on all the islands, and I haven't felt any real need to go back and play in the sandbox mode, or even finish my plans for a few of the islands. Without concrete goals pushing me forward, the limitations and frustrations of the actual building sim take center stage, and even a game full of dinosaurs can't overcome that.

 

 

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Great review, thanks! 

 

I am also a builder sim fan, and your opening paragraph described me perfectly. With Jurassic Park being one of my all-time favourite books and movies, I had high hopes for this game. 

 

I'm interested to see what kind of post launch support they're going to give this game, maybe some of the building and challenge issues you pointed out will get addressed over time. 

 

Also for some reason this game seems perfect to be given away on PS plus. 

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22 minutes ago, mo1518 said:

Great review, thanks! 

 

I am also a builder sim fan, and your opening paragraph described me perfectly. With Jurassic Park being one of my all-time favourite books and movies, I had high hopes for this game. 

 

I'm interested to see what kind of post launch support they're going to give this game, maybe some of the building and challenge issues you pointed out will get addressed over time. 

 

Also for some reason this game seems perfect to be given away on PS plus. 

Yeah, I'm hoping they continue to support it and I expect that they w. There are a lot of little quality of life changes that could make a big difference (like indicating where a building is violating the terrain or overlapping with something else), and there are a lot of big things like additional islands or challenge modes that could be fun as well.

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Just now, ARZ said:

Very similar to the original Jurassic Park Genesis, but with pretty visuals.

I never played the original, but love this one very much :D

 

Do the raptors have AI where they actually “hunt” and use flanking/pincer tactics to take down fleeing prey? In Genesis, that was one of my favorite things: watching the raptors use actual tactics when chasing things down.

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1 hour ago, ARZ said:

There are no team takedowns in this, at least yet. They do herd, conspire amongst themselves and test your fences for weaknesses.

 

Meh.

In Genesis, the pack would chase after a goat/cow/whatever while one or two would break off and circle around to cut off the "food", leaping on it to take it down from the side.

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Quote

Welcome back to Jurassic Park…

 

Following the events of the iconic 1993 film, you are invited to return to the island where it all started. Reclaim the park from the dinosaurs, rebuild beloved locations, and overcome brand new challenges guided by Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Dr. Ian Malcolm in an original narrative voiced by the film cast.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Quote

Welcome back to Jurassic Park…

 

Following the events of the iconic 1993 film, you are invited to return to the island where it all started. Reclaim the park from the dinosaurs, rebuild beloved locations, and overcome brand new challenges guided by Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Dr. Ian Malcolm in an original narrative voiced by the film cast.

 

Wow, it's almost as if they spared no expense!

 

:ohsnap:

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13 minutes ago, Mercury33 said:

Oh it’s the original park?? I’m all in on that. 

 

It does seem to have some inaccuracies (not sure if that's the right word) the gas Jeeps look like they are being used to give tours not the green station wagon Jeeps. I am sure if people mention it they will fix it. 

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2 hours ago, Zaku3 said:

 

It does seem to have some inaccuracies (not sure if that's the right word) the gas Jeeps look like they are being used to give tours not the green station wagon Jeeps. I am sure if people mention it they will fix it. 

 

Well considering the electric jeeps all but fucked them when the power went out, maybe this is intentional?

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