Jurassic World Evolution 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Sim game
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Jurassic World Evolution 2 – Review

Site Score
6.8
Good: Absolutely gorgeous visuals
Bad: Gameplay is bogged down by too much micromanagement
User Score
8.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Whether it’s 2001’s Park Builder on the Game Boy Advance or 2003’s Operation Genesis, park building simulators based on the Jurassic Park franchise have been a video game staple for two decades now. Until recently, the definitive entry was Frontier Developments’ Jurassic World Evolution from 2018. The British developer now revisits the dinosaur franchise with Jurassic World Evolution 2 -which is a bit of a surprise given how close we are to the release of Jurassic World Dominion, which is set for this summer. Nevertheless, being fans of the previous game, as well as its spiritual predecessors, we were eager to return to Jurassic World to see what the new attractions were.

Story

Jurassic World Evolution 2’s main story campaign is set shortly after the events seen in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, with the franchise’s iconic dinosaurs set loose in our world. Film protagonists Owen Grady and Claire Dearing are teaming up with the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, led by Cabot Finch, to recapture the majestic creatures before they can cause too much harm. The three-hour campaign tells a compelling story over five missions but stops very abruptly, supposedly because future missions would spoil the story of Jurassic World Dominion. It’s very likely that more campaign content -including dinosaurs appearing in the new film, such as Pyroraptor and Moros Intrepidus- will be added as DLC after the film’s release.

With the campaign running so short -and frankly, acting as a tutorial more than anything- you’d expect there to be some more story content to flesh out the game. Thankfully, Frontier delivers on this front through the Chaos Theory mode, which presents the player with an additional five missions, each based on one of the films; and with a suspicious empty spot on the mission selection screen, it’s yet another indicator of things to come. The Chaos Theory missions present the player with ‘what if’ scenarios that allow them to change the outcome of the films, from building the original Jurassic Park from the ground up, all the way to dealing with the Mt. Sibo eruption seen in Fallen Kingdom.

Graphics

The stars of the show are the dinosaurs and we’d go as far as to say that the creatures are the best-looking dinosaurs we’ve ever seen in a video game. Compared to the original game -which already had gorgeous visuals- Jurassic World Evolution 2’s dinosaur models are a massive step up. The jungle vistas seen in the first game also pale in comparison to the sheer variety of environments present here, with Yosemite Park especially standing out. There is still the occasional graphical hiccup here and there, such as plants clipping through a dinosaur model or models glitching out, but these are rare occurrences. The game features an expansive photo mode as well, allowing you to take some gorgeous snaps of your dinosaurs.

Sound

Jurassic World Evolution 2 isn’t just a visual delight either. The game’s OST remains virtually unchanged from the previous game, but that’s not a bad thing as Jeremiah Pena’s original tracks, combined with John Williams’ iconic compositions, perfectly set the game’s atmosphere. Dinosaurs appearing in the films sound exactly like they should and Evolution-exclusive critters make realistic and natural sounds as well.

The main selling points when it comes to the game’s audio are of course the stellar performances of Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing. Goldblum is clearly in his element here as the sarcastic Malcolm, and hearing him reprise his most iconic role is a delight. The original characters introduced in the first Jurassic World Evolution game make a welcome return as well, with Cabot Finch’s deliberately over-the-top performance never failing to put a smile on our faces. Notable absentees in the voice cast are the late Richard Attenborough, who is voiced by a soundalike in the Chaos Theory Campaign, and Chris Pratt, who was probably too busy voicing Mario and Garfield, to reprise his role as Owen here.

Gameplay

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know what Jurassic World Evolution 2’s gameplay is all about: it’s a simulation game that tasks you with building your own dinosaur zoo, filled with all kinds of genetically recreated prehistoric creatures. The menagerie of the first game has been expanded to include a variety of flying reptiles, and for the first time, marine reptiles as well. Apart from the aforementioned story campaign and the Chaos Theory mode, the game also offers a Challenge mode, which offers up a set of difficult missions, and the Sandbox mode, which is arguably the game’s biggest draw. It’s an attractive package, and given how Frontier typically handles their games, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is set to become only more attractive as updates and DLC expand and improve on what’s present.

Unfortunately, Frontier seemingly lost sight of why people play Jurassic World Evolution 2 in the first place, as there is a clear balance issue between actually building dinosaur enclosures and populating them with animals and having to micromanage every other aspect of the game. This is especially apparent in both the Chaos Theory mode and the Challenge mode, where it’s rare that you have the opportunity to actually admire your creations for more than 30 seconds. Instead, you’ll be bombarded with notifications about guests complaining about a lack of amenities, dinosaurs getting injured or sick, and incoming storms. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if you could automate some of the game’s processes, but instead, you’ll get caught up in the tedium of micromanaging every single thing. The pause button is tremendously helpful here, as you’re able to issue commands while the game is paused, but we really hope that a rebalancing of certain gameplay elements will be implemented in future updates.

Two new systems are exemplary of how tone-deaf Frontier is with the game. Unlike in the first game, you’ll need to hire dedicated scientists to perform certain tasks -which makes sense in theory and could be a fantastic feature if implemented decently. In practice, having to manage scientists slows things down tremendously. You’ll need to hire them based on their skills and salary requirements. Once they are employed, you’ll assign tasks to them, including extracting DNA, researching new buildings, healing injured dinosaurs, and more. You’ll have to keep an eye on their level of tiredness and tell them when to take a break -which costs you $75.000- or otherwise, they become disgruntled and start sabotaging your park.

Equally tedious is the new guest system. Guests are divided into categories and you’ll need to provide the right kind of entertainment, whether they are nature lovers or thrill-seekers. You’d think that in order to please them, you’d need to set up the right kind of exhibit and populate it with specific dinosaurs, but in practice, pleasing guests and increasing your park rating is entirely determined by the amenities you set up. The amount of stars your park receives depends on the amount of cash you rake in, so having a spectacular park with dozens of species will net you a lower rating than having a park with a handful of animals and tons of shops, restaurants, and drink stalls. Add to this that there are a couple of mission glitches -including an already infamous one on the Washington mission- and it’s clear that the game could’ve used a little more time in the oven.

Thankfully, some of the more frustrating elements of the game can be turned off entirely in the game’s Sandbox mode. You’ll need to play through all three of Jurassic World Evolution 2’s modes to unlock everything in the Sandbox mode, but once you’re able to unleash your creativity, the game truly shines. The Sandbox mode captures the essence of what a Jurassic Park sim game should be like. It’s not perfect, as you’re still forced to deal with annoyingly picky guests, but it’s leaps and bounds above the previous game.

Conclusion

If you’re still on the fence on whether or not to pick up Jurassic World Evolution 2, we’re going to be honest here: unless you’re a diehard fan of the first game, you’re better off waiting for a while until the game receives a few updates to remove or rebalance some of the issues that are currently present. Don’t get us wrong, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a major step up compared to the first game, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. We imagine that in a year or so, after Dominion content is added to the game, you can add an extra point or two to the game’s score. As it stands, Jurassic World Evolution 2 doesn’t live up to its full potential just yet.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)
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Jurassic World Evolution 2 - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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