They could have tracked me down any year of my life and got me excited about the idea of running my own dinosaur park, and Jurassic World Evolution 2 lives up to many of the important parts of that promise. While it lacks the customization and management depth of the other new excellent park builders from Frontier, Planet Coaster, and Planet Zoo, it has never been more tempting to see these prehistoric beasts at eye level from one of those stylish ’90s tour jeeps. At least until you easily come across a goat and the physics engine hurls several tons of steel into the air like a Looney Tunes gag. Yes, there are still some rough spots.
The stars of the show are of course the 70+ species of unlockable dinosaurs, aquatic reptiles and flying pterosaurs that you can display. And they’re fantastic replicas of the models used in the films, with lifelike animation and pinpoint sound for everything from the iconic T. rex to more obscure but equally cool species like the baryonyx. The chair paleontologist in me is a bit disappointed that they don’t reflect the more recent research on dinosaurs that has come up since 1994 – there’s not a feathered velociraptor in sight – but then again, it’s a Jurassic Park game so I can understand why it is wouldn’t want to deviate from the look of the films.
Maintaining them includes creating enclosures with food, water, and suitable terrain, similar to Planet Zoo, but here their needs are fairly simplified and sometimes not intuitive. Birds of prey don’t need trees or tall grass? What? The climate doesn’t seem to matter either, as any species can live just as well in the Canadian wilderness as they do in the brooding Arizona desert without heating or cooling. It’s cool that there are so many different types of terrain this time around, but the fact that they don’t offer unique challenges is a disappointment. It is a compromise, I think, because the loose set of rules also gives you a little more freedom in the overall picture of your living space.
I wasn’t that impressed with the other aspects of park management either. You can’t even set basic costs like ticket and snack prices, and while I didn’t miss that micromanagement too much, the park feels less alive if you don’t have to hire or oversee cashiers or janitors at gift shops.
Rangers in charge of repairs, feeding, and capturing fugitives are nameless, faceless grunts that you seem to have an unlimited supply of. Likewise, you cannot click individual guests to learn more about them, so that the simulation of their wants and needs is as deep as a puddle. By the way, all the water in the park is outside of special enclosures especially for aquatic animals. Your scientists, bringing back fossils, hatching dinosaurs, healing sick or injured specimens, and researching new buildings are the only employees that matter to you and they can now sabotage your park if you don’t give them regular vacations. which is at least a little tense for the personnel management.
Do not save costs
Maximizing Income is a simple mini-game that involves adding modules to your amenities to appeal to specific types of guests. It makes some sense to streamline the busy work so that you can focus on the dinosaurs, but I feel like Evolution 2 goes a dinosaur-sized step too far. While it’s a much richer experience than the first game, the gap between this and most of the other parking simulations is significant. However, the ability to cut the time is a really welcome addition, especially if you’re just waiting to have enough cash to hatch a new species or fix a critical facility. The lack of this feature resulted in tremendous boring downtime in the original, especially when a storm went out of power and your dinosaurs got a huge bill from eating guests and you had to pay it by simply waiting for it; That way, you can skip most of it.
Screens – Jurassic World Evolution 2
Visual customization is also pretty much lacking. While some buildings, such as food and drink stands, allow the style and color of each piece to be chosen individually, others only have one or two pre-designed appearances. There’s a terrain sculpting tool that works decently but is nowhere near as powerful as the one in Planet Zoo, and trails built along slopes don’t even level themselves, so you end up with something like a 30-degree sloped sidewalk can have corners with guests who happily stroll along when they should plunge into their doom.
Breeding your own dinosaurs is at least a little more strategic and sensible this time. Most species have genetic problems, such as short lifespan or aggressive tendencies, and these will need to be addressed by your scientists by adding DNA from other species. It also provides an incentive to complete the genome of species that you can already clone, giving you more room for genetic modification.
Jurassic Park: Final Scene Ray Arnold Figure
Each dinosaur’s personality really matters, and when my star raptor Victoria kept getting into fights, I was faced with a difficult decision. Bringing her together with other birds of prey resulted in frequent, expensive vet bills for both her and every other member of the pack who had bullied her. But raptors can’t live comfortably in isolation, so I couldn’t just put them in their own separate enclosure either. In the end, I just had to let nature take its course: she kept getting into arguments and I endured the treatment until she died of her injuries. As Ian Malcolm could say, “F- around find out.” On the next batch of eggs, I made sure to throw away those with this property.
You didn’t say the magic word
This Sim is also packed full of unlockable items, which can be nice when you need help setting goals, but frustrating when all you want to do is jump into sandbox mode and build the park of your dreams. Amazingly, there is initially only one map in the sandbox, the rest must be unlocked either in frustrating timed challenges or in story-based “Chaos Theory” scenarios that mostly follow the plots of the various Jurassic films. This is probably where you want to start as they give you a fair amount of freedom to play how you want and include cameos from lead characters from the series, including some of the original actors like Jeff Goldblum.
You’ll also need to unlock the vast majority of the types of dinosaurs available, but I didn’t mind that much. Most of the major ones from the original film are available very early, and it was nice to have more than 30 hours discovering new ways to mess things up. Pterosaurs and aquatic species in particular were much more loved this time around (they weren’t included at all when the first game was released), with more customizable enclosures that make your entire park easier to focus on if that’s your thing.
There’s also a campaign mode that changes the formula in interesting ways: after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the US Fish and Wildlife Service – and the CIA for some reason? – have recruited Claire Dearing and Owen Grady to help them catch wild dinosaurs and place them in charitable sanctuaries. The former is voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard repeating her role, but Chris Pratt must have been too busy pronouncing literally every animated character and is nowhere to be found. It only takes a few hours and feels more like a tutorial than anything because disabling the already meager economic aspects of Evolution 2 leaves you even less to do. But the scenarios themselves are pretty new and give us a first glimpse into a world where humans and dinosaurs have to coexist.