There's something primally fun about carefully building up to something and working on it to nurture it into a thriving business/city/mars base, and then watching it all comes crashing down beneath the feet of a giant mutant chicken or whatever. It can only get better when you're bringing giant prehistoric monsters with sharp teeth and a big appetite into the mix. Over the years, several different series have tried it out, including titles from the famous Jurassic Park media franchise, but can Jurassic World Evolution 2 do anything new with the concept to keep it fresh and interesting? Or is this mostly going to be about setting a t-rex loose and giving up?
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is a business-management/amusement park building game from Frontier Developments, the developers behind RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, epic space game Elite: Dangerous, and for some reason Wallace & Gromit on the PS2. It tasks you with running a dinosaur-filled theme park for both profit and science while trying to not accidentally set a giant prehistoric monster on a couple from Florida. Along the way, you’ll be joined by famous characters from across the series’ history, at least a few of which are actually the people from the movies reprising their roles.
Speaking of the movies, it seems like Jurassic World Evolution 2 is kind of acting as a sequel to the last move, as well as a sort of bridge between the two movies. Technically I guess this means there are implied spoilers for the previous two movies if you haven’t seen them yet. In fact, the game’s main campaign basically has a slideshow of the story so far with some characters narrating what’s happening rather than actually seeing it for yourself. Either way, the basic premise is that dinosaurs are now somehow found wild all over the world, and humanity is just trying to get along with the huge monsters hiding out in the woods and plains.
That’s actually where you come in. During the main campaign you control a random park manager who is helping the US government to control and research dinosaurs they find roaming in big natural environments. You play through several scenarios trying to keep the money coming in from the government while learning the ropes of building a park and managing everything that’s going on. At least, you learn nearly everything that is going on, pretty much everything that you have to know to run a park without killing everyone or going bankrupt 80% of the time.
Although it’s called the main campaign, this mode operates more like an extended tutorial. You go through 5 different scenarios over a few hours, completing progressively more complicated tasks until you’ve got a vague grasp of what is going on, then the mode ends. There are also a few concepts that don’t get explained to you very well. For instance, the game starts you out using backup power generators, and there’s never really a tutorial for setting up the complicated webs of a full power system. There’s also a weird situation with financial management, in that you start out with so much money for the first 4 scenarios, then in scenario 5 have a high outgoing cost and lower income.
Honestly, there are no mechanics in Jurassic World Evolution 2 that can't be extrapolated, and there are encyclopedias and help screens, it’s just that both as a tutorial, and as the main campaign, this sort of feels rushed. There’s not really much story going on, other than occasional, slightly annoying banter from the cast of the Jurassic World movies, or at least some close-ish approximations. It’s over in a few hours, and none of the theme-park parts of the game are even used at all. You just research wild dinosaurs for the government.
Luckily, the main campaign is pretty much the smallest part of the gameplay. The real meat and novelty of the game over the last entry are found in the Chaos Theory mode. In this mode, you have to complete a series of ‘what if’ scenarios based on the entire series of movies. You start out in an alternate version of 1993, and turn your small genetic science operation into a million-dollar theme park, only occasionally accidentally setting raptors on your guests. You have famous characters, and even events, from the various movies, and get given the opportunity to build your own versions.
The really shocking thing for me was that the first scenario, based on Jurassic Park 1993, is longer than all five scenarios in the main campaign put together. It covers everything from John Hammond and Henry Wu creating the first raptors, to managing a successful park and then creating a T-Rex and having your park sabotaged by a mysterious employee. You control everything from harvesting the fossils to mapping the genome and creating eggs, instead of just taking dinosaurs from the wild. You can even fiddle with the DNA to modify the dinosaurs. Of course, you also have to manage the welfare of your animals and the safety of your guests like the last game, but having them walled off into 3 areas of Security, Science, and Amusements have been removed to help streamline the process.
On the other side, you also have to prove what would have happened if the park had launched successfully. All of the buildings are in theme with the movie you’re taking part in, and even the dinosaurs can have specific skins that match the period as well. It feels like you’re really inside your famous movies from the series, and on top of that, you have an insane level of control over everything that goes on. You can micromanage everything from scientists and their training to the sort of donuts that you’re selling in your park. Hell, you can even take control of operative to drive or fly around the park you’ve built, tranquilizing dinosaurs and taking pictures of random families visiting dinosaur lands.
Even better, a great feature from RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 comes back for Jurassic World Evolution 2. You can actually get on the ride, and see the perspective of your viewing platforms. There’s even sort of some elements similar to the aforementioned rollercoaster simulator, with the ability to create park tours or those big hamster balls and place down the track they go on. The ability to get down into your park from a minute level is great, and it works really well partially thanks to how great the game looks.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 manages to look excellent from far away, giving you huge maps to work with on many cases, and yet still look excellent close up while you’re driving a jeep around. The neon lights of your park and the decent light system used to make for some interesting screenshots too, especially when you get the realistic movement and look of the dinosaurs into the mix as well. With all the great theming based around the different movies and the minute control, you can really get lost in the game for hours without noticing how much time has passed.
That’s not to say that the game doesn’t suffer from one or two problems in the gameplay department though. I was playing for a fair few hours, and in that time discovered a handful of bugs, mostly harmless. For instance, some of the dinosaurs would just freeze and nearly starve to death until I tranquilized them and move them manually. Another time, my flying dinosaurs would get stuck floating in the air like they were roosting. Honestly, the worst bug was actually found in the tutorial, when one of my goals froze and I had to restart the entire scenario, but luckily that only happened on those shorter maps, and not in Chaos Theory mode.
There’s also a final mode called Challenge mode, which tasks you with taking all you’ve learned and racing against the clock to reach a 5-star park rating, making a return from the previous game. The final mode is a sandbox mode where you get to create a park free of particular missions and goals other than constantly expanding and making more money. These are both nice additions to the Chaos Theory mode and mean that if you’re into this, chances are that you’re going to be playing it for a long time to come. If you’ve been a fan of the whole dinosaur-theme-park idea in other games, then this can pretty much be thought of as the definitive game in the genre. Hell, you can even just let the dinosaurs run riot and eat people if you get bored too, a key feature for pretty much any building sim that is fun to play.
Overall, Jurassic World Evolution 2 has enough on offer to make it a must-have for anyone with even a passing interest in the concept. Even if you’ve played the previous game, the addition of more classic elements from the series, as well as the refinements to a lot of the management systems make it worth your time to see what this game has to offer too. While it may not go too crazy new places with the genre, the presentation and depth of what it has are worthwhile in themselves. Aside from a slightly anemic main campaign, and the occasional bug here and there, the experience is addictive and incredibly engaging.
TechRaptor covered Jurassic World Evolution 2 on Xbox Series X with a code provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox One.
- Loads of content based on the classic movies
- Streamlined yet in-depth gameplay
- Great graphics and photo mode to take advantage of it
- Occasional bugs can force you to restart a scenario
- Short main campaign that's more like a bare-bones tutorial mode