I was born in 1992, so when the first Jurassic Park film was released I didn’t even know what a Velociraptor or Brachiosaurus could be. Years later I’d watch the film cementing dinosaurs as one of the most fascinating things ever. Thanks, Spielberg and Crichton!
Most of the dinosaurs in these Jurassic Park or Jurassic World movies are fictional, created by mixing actual knowledge about dinosaurs with action movie stuff such as poison and roars. While removing all the feathers!
To celebrate the three Jurassic World movies the developers behind games such as Planet Zoo and Zoo Tycoon have created the Jurassic World Evolution video game series. In these video games, you design and manage your park. A zoo, with dinosaurs. Since Jurassic World Evolution 2 was released on Xbox Game Pass I’ve been playing the different modes of the game, with varying degrees of success (and pleasure).
Dr. Malcolm, please tell me what to do
Jurassic World Evolution 2 features a 5-chapter campaign and additional content named Jurassic Park: Chaos Theory. The campaign is more like a lengthy tutorial teaching you the basics of building a park. These tutorial missions aren’t particularly difficult. If I had known they were tutorials before I started playing, I might’ve just decided to jump into the other content instead, as I had already played the first installment in the series.
So, the 4-ish hours you’ll be spending in the campaigns can be interesting if you’ve never played Jurassic World Evolution. If you have thought, I’d advise jumping into Jurassic Park: Chaos Theory right away. These missions let you build the parks we know from the movies. And what came as a surprise to me: you’ll have a lot more freedom in these missions than I expected. It combines the sandbox mode and the mission structure from the tutorial campaigns. For example: during the Jurassic Park San Diego mission you are only a few minutes in when two Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs are dropped into your park. So, a fixed scenario.. but still a lot of freedom. It’s entirely up to you how you deal with this, with enough free space to make the park look and function however you’d like.
Overall the Jurassic Park: Chaos Theory chapters are a lot of fun. In both the tutorial campaigns and the Chaos Theory segments, the lines voiced by Dr. Ian Malcolm (voiced by Jeff Goldblum) are a constant reminder that it isn’t the greatest idea mankind has ever had to breed and showcase dinosaurs. Malcolm’s presence in the game fuels the nostalgia and authenticity which comes with a Jurassic Park video game. A nice touch.
Building a zoo is easy, but managing it is more difficult
The biggest change from the first to the second game in terms of gameplay and additional content is the inclusion of aquatic marine reptiles and aerial dinosaurs (pterosaurs!). In Jurassic World Evolution 2 you can build a lagoon or aviary to breed and release these creatures into your parks.
Sadly the building mechanics are fairly shallow, just as they were in the first game. There are plenty of research options to customize buildings and the addition of lagoons and aviaries make parks look more unique, but the lack of options to make a park feel unique are sadly missing. And that’s a shame as this game was made by the developers who have also brought us games such as Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo. The focus on a more accessible game is understandable, but it does mean that this title will probably not bring enough depth for avid building game fanatics.
The management aspect of Jurassic World Evolution 2 is more interesting. It’s not particularly difficult but does give players enough options to keep them entertained. There are plenty of things to do while managing your park, such as going on expeditions to find dinosaur fossils, researching new technologies, park rides and medication, upgrading your building so they become more effective, etcetera, etcetera.
It all comes down to micromanaging your scientists, as they’ll be doing the heavy-lifting of the park’s operations. Meanwhile, you’ll be keeping an eye on your dinosaurs, as they might become unhappy. And when a dinosaur becomes unhappy, it has a habit of smashing fences and breaking out of its habitats.
And that’s a big no-no.
Performance-wise this game doesn’t go easy on your console or PC. But besides an occasional hiccup, the game performed alright. The dinosaurs look very pretty and the animation work on these creatures is impressive for this type of game. This game isn’t a technical marvel, but it gets the most important thing exactly right. It’s all about the dinosaurs.
While I’m aware it has been said many times before, it still needs to be said. Games like these just play better with a mouse and keyboard. Writing for an Xbox-focused website I always try and play the games I review on my Xbox controller. For a game like this it works.. fine. We’ve come a long way with controller support for previously PC-focused games such as sim/builder hybrids like these, but it does add an extra layer of difficulty.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is an accessible, well-polished simulation/building hybrid from the developers over at Frontier. The campaign isn’t a real campaign, just a tutorial. The additional Jurassic Park: Chaos Theory missions are where the fun can be found. The weak points are the lack of depth and freedom in terms of building a unique park. Maybe it’ll happen in the third installment? A new film is coming after all, perhaps it’ll be a case of third time’s a charm?
It’s not the best building game in town, but it does get the job done. And dinosaurs are cool.
|Reviewed on||PC (Windows 11, PC Game Pass)|
|Available on||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, PS4|PS5|
|Release Date||November 11th, 2021|