by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Playing God For Profit
If there is one thing the Jurassic Park series has brought viewers besides entertainment, it’s that humanity should know when to leave well enough alone. Over the course of five movies, and twenty five years’ worth of tantalizing fans with the films, there has been two things consistent in the series: dinosaurs remain awesome from childhood to adulthood and humans have a tendency to put profit over common sense. Even to the point where they will attempt to play God, often with disastrous results.
But what if it didn’t always end poorly? What if someone could actually make a fully functioning Jurassic Park or Jurassic World tourist attraction without the dire outcomes that make the movies such a thrill to watch? That person would instantly send the theme park sector of the Disney Corporation into a tailspin, as the park with real, living dinosaurs shot to fame overnight and its investors became the richest individuals on the planet in hours. It makes a great basis for a new theme park sim and the makers of Planet Coaster, Frontier Developments, have decided to dish out that challenge to players. But is it any good?
Welcome To Jurassic World
Starting the game, I decided to venture into my career of turning the islands of The Five Deaths into a place people want to visit. Under advisory (and warnings) of Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, as well as tourist-industry analysts, over-eager scientists and moral-bending security leaders it was time to put things in motion.
Over the course of the game, your main objective is to strive for a five star rating at each park you open on the islands. But you’re not going to get there easily, as business is a gamble and a single misstep can result in a huge loss in profits. The game eases you into both the business and theme park sides of the simulation relatively well, as the first island basically serves as a tutorial and you’re allowed to stay focused on it as long as you need to before you move on to open your second park. I encourage everyone to stay here until they are comfortable with the basics before rushing off to the second island.
During your tutorial, you’ll learn about everything that makes your park tick. The use of each facility, how your power grid works, and even getting eyes on the ground as you manually take control of a team of Park Rangers and cruise through your resort. Most importantly, you’ll learn about how to bring more dinosaurs into your repertoire and offer only the best attractions research and heaps of money can bring. It’s nothing overly complex, but it is time consuming and a lot of it boils down entirely to attraction placement to ensure your park is a success.
In all my parks, generally what I did was try to put things like gift shops and dining near the entrance in a mass, and then dot them throughout the park. Hotels I tried to keep in scenic areas near the dinosaur enclosures to reduce distance for visitors to get to see the creatures. Anything related to park upkeep, I tried to take a cue from real world parks and tried to hide them out of sight, and out of mind. There’s no reason to stress out park goers by having emergency bunkers clearly visible on the mainstrip, afterall. Then the main dish on the platter of fun I served up, I tried to spread out the dinosaur enclosures in relatively equal distances from the main strip so that no one would ever have to go too far to see some of their favorite dinosaurs.
The more you play, the more you research both fossils and buildings, the more you’ll have to put in your park over time. But, there will be hurdles to overcome, and while some are interesting i.e. driving out into an enclosure to personally administer medicine to a dinosaur with a syringe-equipped dart rifle or pursuing an escaped dinosaur from the air to try to corral it before it can become a threat to the park attendees, some are less desirable.
Every business / theme park style game seems to have one running thing in common over the years. No matter how great a park you make, no matter how it is specifically designed to suit the needs of the people visiting, sometimes you just bump into a wall where a few sticklers in the crowd will hold you back. It feels like it happens a lot in Jurassic World Evolution, and it makes itself known far too often.
I’ve been in situations where everyone is happy for hours and then - all of a sudden - there are several complaints that the dinosaurs are too far away from viewing decks because they have the nerve to be just on the edge of the viewer cone. Line of sight be damned, in a completely open field call me crazy, but they’re going to see a huge beasty like that drinking from a pond from that viewing deck. Then you can go from crowds being okay with the prices one minute, and then suddenly being annoyed by the same price the next minute.
It’s some hairpulling stuff when you’re trying to get some things accomplished and work your way towards a five star rating. It made me tempted a few times to just open the enclosure for the raptors and just let them run wild, but I restrained myself. Thankfully, my frustrations with the game are solely centered around the inconsistencies in crowd happiness, rather than glitches or lack of variety.
”Life, uh, finds a way”
And Frontier Developments found a way to bring the Jurassic Park / Jurassic World franchise back into the world of gaming. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jurassic World Evolved thus far, and the more I play the more I look at my parks and think of ways I can improve upon it. Fickle crowds be damned, I’m here to build a park - I’m here to make Jurassic World work. For dinosaurs in the business world, and in the theme park industry... life finds a way.
A variety of different islands, plenty of dinosaurs and ways to make your dream dino-park truly something special.
Crowd inconsistency can be a damper on trying to get the best rating possible for your park.