I have played a lot of management games and business simulators and Jurassic World Evolution has evolved into something that is close to a pesky mouse in the world of magnificent dinosaurs. As a kid I always used to want to be a scientist specializing in dinosaurs and I remembered the names of some of these magnificent creatures. There was the Stegosaurus whose spines at the back protected it from predators, the vicious Raptor that hunted in packs and of course the King of the Dinosaurs the Tyrannosaurus Rex which was known as the Tyrant Lizard.
I wasn’t expecting JW-E to be perfect of course but I expected to learn something about dinosaurs and bring back nostalgic memories. But it was a severe disappointment. There is a unique foundation, a sturdy concept to Jurassic World, but it is not enough to be entertaining, nor does it bring something substantial to the table.
The premise behind the game is to search dig sites around the world and use them to revive dinosaurs and bring them into our era. This is unique, even though I would have liked a combination. Though this approach was slightly historically correct, certain dinosaurs could have been available from the start to enhance gameplay.
The biggest problem is the lack of depth which is evident from the very start. With expansions there are 48 dinosaurs in total. But even with this small amount the game could have been saved by an assortment of buildings and better management capacity when it came to your park. You cannot control the entry fee of your Jurassic park. You can’t partake in savvy marketing to bring more customers to the zoo. You cannot see guest happiness easily either. The needs of your guests have been simplified to the point they do not even matter, regardless of the glaring fact that these guests are the ones who make your park great.
Maybe I am so critical of this title because of the background I have of playing Zoo Tycoon, which was one of the best games of the type and is also among my best management games. The 2017 version of the game, the ultimate animal collection had 200+ animals present. What restricted JW-E from achieving this itself? Also even if it included dinosaurs from only the Jurassic era there could be some really interesting buildings.
Instead JW focuses completely on research and analyzing fossils to make any progress. This gets pretty boring after a while, just as the three factions promoting science, entertainment and zoo security. These factions give you tasks to complete but not the freedom of doing anything you want in your own zoo. Because I was not following the quests I ran out of money on the very first try of my campaign game. Its pretty easy to be hemorrhaging cash in JW. The game does not have a great tutorial either and you need to practice before you understand the core concepts. I for one had to spend time to understand how even the paths worked.
Now the lack of polish Is visible in the few paths you can build around the zoo. I know Zoo Tycoon had dozens and hundreds of items to improve the aesthetic quality of the zoo. And that was what, a 2001 game?
At least each dinosaur has its animation and distinct movement. And you can even change the color, and make various changes to its looks including some nominal bit of change to its needs and behavior. But that is as far the interesting aspects of this game go.
Nut annoyingly, there is no proper sandbox option. It’s not that it does not exist. But it is done in a peculiar and unconventional way which is mind-boggling to say the least. This sandbox unlocks after you receive a 4 out of 5 rating for your zoo island. It’s not easy to achieve this for me.
But any business simulation game developer knows that a gamer is most interested in playing the sandbox version of such games rather than the campaign. It’s a well-known fact acknowledged all the way from the apexes of strategy, Age of Empires, right down to Rise of Industry. Only around 2% of Age of Empires 2 fans actually complete the full campaign missions. Instead the standard game is where it shines.
Also when you have unlocked the sandbox where you can play with unlimited money (I wanted this option to be there to test the game as a newbie. I hate being thrown to the wolves immediately and JW-E certainly did this) the tweaking options available are very shallow.
There isn’t just the problem of unlocking sandbox. Particularly you cannot choose different maps or locations for your park-each and every environment generated looks the same. There could be deserts, tundra, savannah, rainforests, jungles and what not. Dinosaurs have different tastes, different behaviors, and live in different environments. None of these environments seem to exist.
There is weather, thankfully and it plays a role in weakening fences and what not. There is also the possibility of dinosaurs breaking free and running amok around the map. But the area of the map isn’t huge. It is as if JW-E aimed to be mediocre.
It’s amazing to look at magnificent beasts known as dinosaurs (unless they are running around the park munching on guests), but that is probably the only notable thing about this game. Severely lacking in content or depth Jurassic World Evolution is among the worst business simulator I have ever played.
Perhaps I was playing it from a Zoo Tycoon angle and expected that class and note-worthy gaming. Now Zoo Tycoon had a limited number of animals to purchase, but a lot of tertiary buildings, shops and beautifications that roared like a T-Rex. It’s old and still steals the show and could reveal what a zoo or dinosaur management game should actually be.
There were maps with different foliage and environments, there were shelters and toys for animals, there were hot dog shops, burger shops, restaurants. In fact, the first Zoo Tycoon did this so long ago back in 2001 and was not beyond 500 MB in size. Even the graphics of Jurassic World are not top notch. Not bad, true, but not a single feature seems to be impressive.
There is also no day and night cycle. Selecting your dinosaurs could have been easier if they were highlighted on the map-possibly with a small white halo or name tags.
I would say when compared to the oldest such game I played, Zoo Tycoon Dinosaur Digs, JW-E looks like a mouse than a dinosaur.
The game also aimed to leech from the movies. I don’t know why the developers link this game to the movie. Again, perhaps I was looking at this from a Zoo Tycoon angle and had unreal expectations. But Jurassic World Evolution disappointed me on each and every front. There certainly was potential and it certainly introduces new concepts, like incubators and the ability to bring dinosaurs back from the dead by replicating their genome material.
But where are the different types of fences needed to contain such massive dinosaurs. What kind of flora and Fiona do they like? Dinosaur care is extremely bare bones here. If there were more than a hundred dinosaurs, I would understand the decision to ignore some of the concession stalls and buildings required for guests in such a park.
Instead of roaring like a T-Rex, Jurassic World Evolution squeaks like a mouse. If a dinosaur game had cerebral palsy, it would look like this.
- Can search dig sites and revive dead dinosaurs.
- Can make certain changes to your dinosaurs behavior and looks.
- Gives research its due. Research is a major part of making the park great.
- Game leaches from the movies
- Lack of depth. Very few dinosaurs.
- Dinosaur care is way too simplified.
- None or highly simplified guest management or needs.
- The procedurally developed maps are all similar.
- Cannot even control the entry fee to your Jurassic Park.