Video Game Reviews For release: 2021-11-24

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Jurassic World Evolution 2 review: When dinosaurs ruled the Earth

Donovan Erskine

Jurassic World Evolution launched in the same year as the second film in the rebooted blockbuster series and gave fans the opportunity to live out their own dreams of opening a theme park full of dinosaurs. Three years later, the game's sequel looks to double down on that promise, putting even more tools and options in the hands of players. Jurassic World Evolution 2 cleverly expands upon what was built in the first game, delivering the definitive Jurassic experience.

Welcome to Jurassic World

In Jurassic World 2, players can build their own dinosaur theme park using enclosures, facilities, and scientists. There's a lot of systems at play, and the core game is a balancing act of making sure your dinosaurs are taken care of and happy, guests are happy, and that your park is turning a profit.

Players are introduced to the game's mechanics in Campaign mode. Set after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, players will work with the DFW (Department of Fish and Wildlife) to control, conserve, and contain the wild dinosaurs that now roam the planet. Each chapter of the Campaign has players in different locations looking to build a functioning park or conservation area. From Arizona, to Washington, California and more, it was neat to have a diverse offering of environments, rather than the jungle settings that we always see in Jurassic Park adaptations.

The Campaign is brief, easily beatable in a couple of sittings. That said, it's a satisfying experience that eases players into the different systems that they will have to juggle. As someone who can sometimes feel overwhelmed in management sims, I felt equipped to deal with just about everything Jurassic World Evolution 2 threw at me. It was also cool having Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles from the films and serve as mentors throughout the story.

Just like Hammond envisioned

When building a successful park, there's a lot that players will need to take into account. Enclosures need to be built for every dinosaur, as to keep both the guests and creatures safe. Each species of dinosaur has its own unique needs that inform the player how to design their enclosure. For example, Velociraptors desire a lot of open space, as well as live prey to hunt down. The Carnotaurus wanted to be in a sandy environment, so I had to whip out the brush tool and make their enclosure look like a desert.

There are over 75 species of dinosaurs featured in Jurassic World Evolution 2, and each one feels distinct from the next. This game also adds flying and marine creatures, adding more variety to what players can do with their parks.

Players can get a full read of everything they need to know about a dinosaur by pulling up its information page. This tells the player a dinosaur's comfort level, health status, genetic makeup, and even a stats page that will show you everything from a dino's age and dollar value, to how many creatures it's killed and how many times it broke out of its enclosure. The amount of information the game gives makes each creature feel unique. I found myself growing attachments to some of the dinosaurs I had long term and I was genuinely saddened when they died or became unwell.

One of my favorite things to do in Jurassic World Evolution 2 was to hop into a ranger truck, and then drive around an enclosure in first-person. Seeing dinosaurs like the T-Rex and Brontosaurus up close, scaled to actual size, was incredible.

In addition to having cool dinosaurs and making sure they're taken care of, players still need to manage a theme park. Buildings like viewing centers, restaurants, gift shops, and hotels make the guests happy, increasing profits. On the business side of things, operation facilities like the Control Center, Medical Facility, and Response Facility are integral to maintaining your park. Scientists can be hired to carry out tasks such as healing dinosaurs, going on expeditions to acquire new creatures, and conducting research in order to unlock new structures and perks. Each scientist has their own advantages and disadvantages, as well as a salary to match.

There's a deep level of strategy and management just on the business side of things. Having to properly budget my income so that I could afford scientists, managing their time so that they didn't become fatigued or disgruntled. Fostering an environment that made my guests feel safe and excited to spend money was a good deal of fun on its own.

My only frustration with Jurassic World 2 comes in the repetitiveness of its gameplay loop, particularly early on in a playthrough. From random weather conditions, to illnesses and dinosaurs deciding to break fences and escape their enclosure, it can feel like you're in a constant state of panic, frequently pausing time to play an endless game of whack-a-mole. As more perks are unlocked, this becomes a bit less stressful.

Life finds a way

One of the most fascinating mechanics in Jurassic World Evolution 2 is its bioengineering system, which lets players create their own dinosaurs just as Dr. Henry Wu and his team of scientists did in the films. Using a Hatchery, players can combine genomes from different species of reptiles in order to create a dinosaur that's wholly unique. These dinosaurs can have special behavioral traits, colors, and patterns. I spent a considerable amount of time just screwing around in Sandbox mode seeing what wild abominations I could come up with.

Chaos Theory is a new mode in Jurassic World Evolution 2 and puts players in scenarios from the Jurassic Park/World series, giving them a chance to rewrite history. These "what if" scenarios include realizing John Hammond's dream of building a Jurassic Park in San Diego, or maintaining Jurassic World on Isla Nublar without the incident in 2015. These missions offered a fresh challenge and are an excellent way to revisit major turning points in the franchise.

I've decided to endorse your park

Jurassic World Evolution 2 is endless fun for a fan of the blockbuster franchise. A large library of species to unlock and study, bioengineering, and the ability to revisit iconic moments from the movies makes it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for their fix of Jurassic content. Even as a park manager, the game is quite satisfying, aside from some light frustrations here or there.

This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Jurassic World Evolution 2 is available now for $59.99 on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5 and PC.

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