Jurassic Park is a franchise that has seen its fair share of video games, spread across three decades, multiple consoles, and multiple genres. I have not played most of them, so I do not claim to be an expert, but I have played a fair share and let me state rather emphatically that a lot of these games are not good. There are exceptions, of course, as was the case with the side scrolling platformer Jurassic Park, for the Sega Genesis. Based on early impressions, it is looking like the upcoming game, Jurassic World Evolution might just be one of these exceptions.
Jurassic World Evolution will be a business simulation video game – an approach that has been tried before in the middling Jurassic Park III: Park Builder for Gameboy Advance and the relatively good Jurassic Park Builder for iOS and Android. While those games focus on business or park building to different degrees, they have a lot of overlap and it is looking like that will remain the case with Jurassic World Evolution. The primary differences here are that the genre and the technology are no longer in their infancy.
Speaking of the technology, the game which will launch on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC looks absolutely stunning. That seems crucial for a game based on a movie featuring a park that is designed for spectacle. Lush wooded island environments and, naturally, dinosaurs, both fierce and docile, should look great to make the experience of both building and exploring exciting.
That’s another element of the game I’m looking forward to: the two separate game modes. In the game’s career mode, players develop a park, unlocking various attractions as they progress with the goal of creating multiple 5 star parks across the five islands of the Las Cinco Muertes archipelago. Building the parks is exciting because it is, at the very least, half of the story of Jurassic Park. How can you build a dinosaur island? Should you build a dinosaur island? What makes for the best dinosaur island? And what happens if you screw up? Without these questions, the franchise couldn’t exist so it’s exciting to partake in that side of the equation. But what about the other side? The one where you get to experience the parks? Well, there’s a Sandbox mode for that.
Sandbox modes, traditionally, are open environment that give a large amount of freedom to the player. Basically, they are a place to play and get creative. The sandbox mode is unlocked by getting 4 star on island in career mode and will feature all the dinosaurs unlocked there which should incentivize jumping back between the two modes. Once in sandbox mode, players will be able to control the environment and various other aspects of the game to experience how the park functions under different parameters. Oh, and I should mention that it takes place on Isla Nublar, the setting of the original film where everything kinda goes to shit.
And that is part of the experience, isn’t it? Sure, being good at the game is an appealing challenge and shouldn’t be downplayed but, as any Sims player will tell you, part of the fun is changing things up and acting as a malevolent being. If part of Jurassic Park is seeing what happens when things go wrong, which is an interesting conflict beyond the financial ups and downs of a park, then players certainly should be able to witness the dangers of bad park design. That kind of thing can be quite comical and, honestly, authentic to the movie.
And, really, that’s what ultimately appeals to me about Jurassic World Evolution. It doesn’t appear to be merely a cash in on the franchise but, instead, a unique game that is lovingly created. Beyond the developer’s efforts to mechanically and visually create a sense of authenticity, they also succeed on the audio front as they recruited the always lovable Jeff Goldblum to lend his iconic voice to the game. It’s all wrapped up in a wonderful package and I can’t wait to play some of it next week.