When the initial tease for the original Jurassic World Evolution rolled out to the general public, the hype that was immediately built was real. Combining park building with micro-management and the massive appeal of being able to house some of the most interesting of dinosaurs, it was obvious that Frontier Developments would be on to a winner. Aside from a few little bugs, it proved to be the case too.
Now though that same team is back, this time with Jurassic World Evolution 2 – a bigger, better, deeper, much more dynamic dinosaur management experience; one that sees Frontier Developments take what they learnt from the original as they throw it all into one massive package. Again, it works. Brilliantly.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is pretty much the perfect game for anyone looking to spend days, weeks and months on end with the intricacies of dinosaur-themed park building and management. Very much running along the same lines as the game which kicked the series off, this provides players with access to multiple avenues of gameplay, with a brilliant Campaign, an all-new Chaos Theory option and the staples of Challenge modes and a full Sandbox arena.
It’s the campaign with which many will start and as the blurb mentions, this will let you take in a new and original Jurassic World story that is set just after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Split across multiple mission-based scenarios, you’re pretty much tasked with following instructions to the best of your ability, with your tasks delivered by the likes of Claire Dearing and Dr. Ian Malcolm (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard and Jeff Goldblum, no less). It’s here where you are requested to lead the Department of Fish and Wildlife, moving across the United States and ensuring you get to establish a foothold in a variety of areas. The overall goal is to discover, and then house, multiple dinosaur types, conserving their type forevermore. It’s typical Jurassic World stuff to be honest and works wonderfully as a little side note to the films. Admittedly, it does feel a little on-rails, but that is critical to the way Evolution 2 is set up, letting you get a full grip on the mechanics at hand.
Further to that and we have Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory really does play on the ‘what if’ moments that Frontier are picking from the various films, letting you realise the ultimate dreams of building your very own Jurassic Park. Split across five unique areas and sectors, all of which cover the films well, on a personal level its Chaos Theory which is a real standout, helping immerse you into the lore and franchise as a whole like never before.
But complementing these two story-based segments of Jurassic World Evolution 2 are a couple of more open-ended books, those that really do let you run wild with the features and mechanics on show. The Challenge mode does as you’d expect, pitting you against the clock in a series of locations, all as you look to create the perfect park, whilst the Sandbox just opens up pretty much everything you could ever want and leaves you to get on with it. It’s here where your imagination is the limit. Whilst you’ll initially be limited to the land of Canada, parks in the United Kingdom, San Diego, Isla Nublar (both the 1993 variant and that of 2015) are ready for action. All you need to do is unlock them.
However you’re playing Jurassic World Evolution 2, you’ll find it very much up to snuff. Building out your park, whether that be as you go it alone and let your imagination run wild with various buildings and attractions, or as you follow some strict structure placement in order to progress a story, being able to grab what you want, before spinning and placing it delicately is a cinch. From there, upgrading and going deep into the micro-management side of things is also easily doable, although there is a bit of a learning curve required for certain scientific actions and the like. Once you understand where you need to be and how deep through the various menus you have to go, it’s all straightforward enough.
The building variety is huge too (you’re looking at 145 odd in total when you include upgrades, fencing and scenery types), very much covering what you would expect of a ‘Jurassic World’; Arrival points, control centres and science centres are well complemented by the live feeders, ranger posts and emergency shelters which fast become vital.
And then we have the dinos. And let’s admit it, that’s what we are here for.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is full of those from the period, and whether you are looking to house the old favourites like the Velociraptor and Triceratops, or wish to go deep and breed some new, less well-known dinosaurs like Carnotaurus for instance, then this certainly lets you. There are even flying and aquatic species too and the list of those available to unlock is very much larger than the first game. You can even go in and amend them how you see fit, working with genome balancing and genetic mods to create the dinosaur of your dreams. It’s nice that Frontier have plenty of options here too, and you’ll certainly need to consider how your house these beasts, ensuring perimeter fences are tight, and the environment required by each dino is in place – some will be thankful for dense forests, others wish for more open plan desert areas, water or more.
Of course, these fenced areas help with separating animals too; throw a pack of carnivores in with a humble plant eater happily going about their business and you’ll find all manner of trouble. As you will should they become agitated or ill, breaking down fences and going on a rampage through your park. It’s here where your park rangers will come into their own, no matter whether you send them off to do their own thing and keep your park safe and sound by their own accord, or if you’d prefer to take direct control and work them to your own needs. In fact, there are a whole range of staff that you’ll need to get under control should you wish for your park to succeed.
It goes without saying that Jurassic World Evolution 2 is as deep as you could imagine and that depth is helped nicely by some superb visuals. Whether you are zooming in and out of the map screen, or delving into the menus to get a closer look at exactly what makes a certain dinosaur tick, there are some seriously decent visuals going on here. Oh, and as you’d expect from a film franchise that has such iconic music, the sound is to die for – both in terms of the soundtrack and the audio emitting from your park itself. A big part of the draw of any Jurassic World title is the accuracy to the films and lore, and Evolution 2 nails that brilliantly. You’ll struggle to not become fully immersed in what you are doing.
So what’s not to like about how Frontier have gone about building out their franchise? Well honestly, not a lot really. Whilst it goes without saying that many an hour will need to be invested for anyone looking to get the full hit of Jurassic World Evolution 2, the way the content has been split between the sections of Campaign, Chaos Theory, Challenges and Sandbox means that it’s easy to dip in and out at will – picking up something for an hour or two, before heading off to enjoy a different take somewhere else. Having multiple saves is a must, but again Frontier allow for just that.
In fact, aside from the same stupid park rangers in little buggies who occasionally take the longest route ever to get to their destination, it’s all very well laid out and compliant. I’d go as far to say that Frontier should be applauded for the set-up in terms of UI too; it’s pretty easy to utilise the buttons of your Xbox controller to ensure you hit your destination menu with ease. It’s helped that speeding up, slowing down and pausing the game so you can take stock is all front and centre as well.
Perhaps a little bit extra could have been added to the main campaign, but otherwise Jurassic World Evolution 2 follows on brilliantly from the original game to provide hours of utter joy. The console fit is a great one, with interfaces and opportunities always at the fingertips. Throw in a multitude of options via various game modes and you’ve got what many could well call the ultimate dinosaur-themed park builder.
You can find Jurassic World Evolution 2 over at the Xbox Store