Welcome.. to Jurassic World Evolution 1.65333 recurring!
Granted, it’s not quite as catching as this dino-management sim’s actual title, Jurassic World Evolution 2, but it doesn’t quite feel like a sequel; it’s more a well-executed overhaul. That’s not a bad thing, though – it certainly fixes a few of the flaws that held back the already entertaining original, including the lack of aquatic and airborne dinosaurs.
But what makes Jurassic World Evolution 2 really stand out, and makes it the game to go for if you’re looking to manage your own murdersaurs (you can have plant-eaters if you really insist) is that it feels like a complete package. I was expecting to treat Story and Chaos Theory modes as tutorials, and dive straight into sandbox mode the moment I knew what I was doing. But I found myself thoroughly engrossed in both.
Story Mode, for example, follows on from the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It turns the Jurassic Park/World premise on its head by having you rescue dinosaurs for their and humanity’s sake rather than just make money off them. It’s not going to take you weeks to beat, but it’s plenty of fun, particularly because being a conservationist rather than a showman forces you to think a little differently.
It also sports voice acting from Bryce Dallas-Howard, who plays Claire in the Jurassic World movies. She’s not joined by her on-screen co-star however, so it’s jarring to hear her back-and-forth with “Owen Grady”, who clearly isn’t Chris Pratt. He’s happy to be the voice of Garfield and Mario and is probably signing a contract to be the L-shaped block in the Tetris movie, but he’s not down for videogames anymore. Either that, or the paycheque wasn’t nearly big enough.
Jurassic World Evolution 2‘s Chaos Theory mode is where I ended up spending most of my time. If you’ve ever felt like reaching through the big screen and throttling whoever’s running Jurassic Park, it’ll be your favourite too. It sports multiple “what if” scenarios from the movies, including the important “What if you yeeted Dennis Nedry into the T-Rex paddock the moment he arrived for his interview?”.
Okay, that’s not exactly what happens, but without a Nedry and with you in charge it’s possible to make Jurassic Park work. It’s a real rush to see things going well-ish (take that, Steven Spielberg) but there’s an extra challenge considering that an ably-impersonated John Hammond insists on putting his oar in.
You don’t have to follow his instructions all the time, but you’ll face-palm when he’s insisting that you start with velociraptors. Baby steps, John, baby steps. By the time you’re ready to tackle Sandbox mode you’ll have one internal directive: don’t be that champagne- stealing arse in the white suit.
Watching your dinosaurs is a joy, no matter what mode you’re tackling though. It’s exciting to see that their behaviour has been kicked up a notch from the first game, too. You’ll witness them socialising, moving in herds, getting into fights with each other and so on. And you’ll treat every one of them like your own special babies, including becoming exasperated when your discover their “illness” is concussion, from smacking each other about.
Jurassic World Evolution 2‘s controls are easy to master, even on console. The real bonus is that, in sandbox mode, you can tweak difficulty settings and behaviour to your heart’s content. Want docile dinosaurs, or dinosaurs that are bloodthirsty but don’t get thirsty? It’s your choice.
Speaking of bloodthirsty, there’s absolutely potential here for staging dinosaur vs dinosaur battle royales if that’s your thing. Safety is paramount, as the game tells you again and again. Things do go wrong – sometimes because you “accidentally” left a gate open, honest – and pulling your park back from the brink feels like a suitably grand accomplishment.
And while I can’t testify as to their absolute accuracy, not having been around at the time, the dinosaur animations are superb. Even without the infamous glass of water, just watching a T-Rex roam around will send shivers down down your spine. Even the less aggressive animals, which you’re free to name, are almost as striking as the movie originals.
Is this the perfect dinosaur sim? Not quite. Because while it’s deeper than it used to be (one of my gripes with the original) and it has Jeff Goldblum, it’s not perfect. Jurassic World Evolution 2 still expects you to micromanage a little too much.
For example, one of the things I love about Let’s Build a Zoo is that you can assign vets to paddocks and expect them to look in on the animals. But in Jurassic World Evolution 2, if an animal is sick with an unknown illness you’ve got to actively direct a vet over there to find out what it is, and to treat it. Yes, the rangers are smarter than they were in the first game but when you’ve got a massive sandbox park, having to handle individual dinosaur illnesses can be irritating. I found myself wishing I could tag a paddock as “done”, then paid a manager to keep it ticking over.
There’s still room for improvement, a Jurassic World Evolution 1.999 by my calculations, but even with its issues, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a fantastic sim game that’ll have you coming back for more, even when you’ve exhausted its campaign and Chaos Theory mode. It’s an absolute must if you’ve got the remotest interest in Jurassic Park, dinosaurs or unleashing nightmarish giant lizards upon an unsuspecting public.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 Review – GameSpew’s Score