August 5, 2021

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Jurassic World Evolution finds a way to be refreshingly different

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Back in 2016 Frontier Developments launched Planet Coaster, a very well-received simulator about building the best theme park you can and then making sure it runs as smoothly as possible, ironing out minor problems in design while making sure the guests are well catered for.

Two years on, Frontier is preparing to release Jurassic World Evolution – it will launch digitally for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on the 12th of June 2018, with a physical release following on the 3rd of July. Evolution is a game based on running a park in a world where such endeavours are always spectacularly ill-fated, mostly on account of the attractions’ fondness for escaping their designated areas and killing people. At first these two elements – theme park design and inevitable, catastrophic failure – might seem like odd bedfellows, but it’s in that tension between the ability to design a wonderful park and life’s tendency to find a way, as it were, that Jurassic World Evolution really stands out.

Aoife and I got a couple of hours’ worth of hands on time with Jurassic World Evolution earlier this month and what we played was very promising. As you might expect, the game is built on the foundations laid by Planet Coaster, so the actual mechanics of putting a park together should feel very familiar. The main difference, of course, is that you’re not building rides but engineering living, breathing dinosaurs – there are whole layers of strategy built around fossil acquisition and research that open up new species of dinosaur with differing advantages (such as a longer lifespan or defensive stats) as you sequence more of each dinosaur’s genome. Strange though it may sound to be doing DNA research in order to unlock what are, effectively, upgrades, it all hangs together very well. The park feels as much like a scientific facility as it does a tourist attraction and, with new systems such as power distribution to take care of, there’s more for you to think about in the day-to-day running of your own Jurassic World.

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