dr. Wu is Dr. Jurassic World’s Frankenstein – a mad scientist who creates new life by stitching together the DNA of several dinosaurs. Its hybrids are more capable hunters, better suited to harsh climates, and far more terrifying than the Tyrannosaurs rex. In Jurassic World Evolution 2, we see Frontier Developments getting a cue from Dr. wu. The dinosaurs that players interact with are more aware of their environment, can find their own food and even learn to hunt in packs. The skeleton that brings this simulation to life is the same as its predecessor, but everything around it has evolved or changed. These changes make for more dynamic and challenging gameplay, but not always for the better.
Set after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomDinosaurs are now part of the United States ecosystem, and we’re learning if we can live with them. The player teams up with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to deal with dinosaur problems, such as Pteranodons migrating too close to the Canadian border, or worse, hungry predators that pose a threat to society. This setup offers an excellent variety of maps, from snow-colored fields and arid deserts to lush forests and vast lakes. The change of scenery adds an element of excitement and makes the experience feel somewhat new again.
As wild as it is to see an Allosaurus running through the snow, this campaign experience lacks bite and comes across as a glorified tutorial that doesn’t last long. I loved the difficulty of Jurassic World Evolution 1’s campaign and how it pushed the player to excel in theme park development to reach new islands. This campaign never goes in that direction and instead focuses too much on herding dinosaurs like cattle, much like the disappointing missions in Evolution 1’s lackluster Claire’s Sanctuary DLC. It’s nice to hear Ian Malcolm (again voiced by Jeff Goldblum) give serious and sarcastic warnings about the future, but it’s not enough to save the experience.
The fact that the campaign isn’t long is a blessing in disguise, as another mode steps into the spotlight and truly embraces the experience of building a park. This mode is called Chaos Theory, a fun “What if…?” exploration of all five Jurassic films. You’ll have the chance to rewrite history, starting with John Hammond turning to you to help build the first Jurassic Park. All of these scenarios embrace the look and feel of the movies, not to mention the dinosaurs. Going through each mission is an excellent way to unlock dinosaurs for other modes, including the new marine and flying types, which are fully fleshed out and fun to watch.
The dinosaurs are rightfully the stars of this experience. These thunder beasts are highly detailed, animated in fun ways (especially when hunting), and offer decent customization through cool-looking skins. They have a little more life than the first game, and one of the best details is how they find their comfort zones within a fence based on the location of their food. You can now safely have a more extensive selection of dinosaurs in one enclosure, reducing the need to fill the park with fences. This design is a nice touch that frees up space for other guest-related destinations.
The improved dinosaur realism also means you have to take care of them more – which is a bit of a drawback. Each dino is a bit fragile and can break bones, get a cut and force you to calm down and take them to the new medical facility. Making them more resilient through research is possible, but the early stages are difficult in dinosaur care, especially given the hassle of park management at the moment.
Quality of life improvements accompany most of the park building gameplay and menus. Players can now speed up time whenever they want, a change that takes the frustration out of waiting for a meter to fill. Feeding electricity to structures is also much easier with the new generator, which powers everything around it and does not require high-voltage lines. All the aspects of creation are coupled with another excellent addition: scientists, whom you hire manually and assign to tasks according to their specialties. One scientist can speed up the incubation of eggs, while another lowers the price of a fossil expedition. All these elements sing together and make the game much better.
They also make it worse. This supposedly trouble-free generator runs on fuel that you have to top up regularly. The price for a full tank of gas can reach over $400,000. If you have a lot of generators (which you probably will), make sure you have over a million set aside for fuel. It’s something you have to keep thinking about.
Those brilliant scientists get tired and often have to sleep. Every time they jump in bed, it will cost you $75,000. Additionally, when the more impressive dinosaur species are unlocked, such as the Tyrannosaurus, the scientists you have on hand may not have the expertise to incubate them, meaning you’ll have to fire a few and seek new help.
The micromanaging gets intense and can be downright annoying when a storm erupts, and you suddenly have dinosaurs outside their enclosures, power outages, dinos with broken bones and finances spinning in the toilet. Diseases also run rampant and can be a headache. Playing pieces can feel like you are closing hole after hole. Making money to stay afloat can be a challenge, but getting through these issues leads to research options that lessen the frustration. If you stick to it, the whole experience will get better with time.
For example, the player can research energy enhancements, which, in a strange twist, are the classic power plants and power lines from the first game. It’s almost as if Frontier realized that players wouldn’t like the generators and offered the old solution as a fallback. Other options include finding more dinosaur fossils, extra skill points for scientists (which is a game-changer), and more guest attractions. You need to earn most of these boosts by increasing your park’s star level.
The process of building a park is identical in terms of play flow, but offers a higher degree of personalization. The exterior of each store can be fully designed, right down to the architecture, colors and props. The environment can also include a variety of decorations, such as outdoor seating for a restaurant or fun dino-themed items such as a giant skull. Each of these establishments offers a variety of interior attractions that attract different types of guests. If you play your cards right, you’ll make money hand over hand, but there’s bound to be some frustrating pieces.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 takes as many big steps forward as it does backward, but has enough going for it to provide a fun and rewarding theme park experience. Like its predecessor, the Sandbox mode is the most fun, and this way of playing combines everything the player has unlocked while taking away all the stress. Collecting each dinosaur takes time and effort, but it’s worth it, especially since you can experiment to see what happens when each dinosaur roams freely in the same room.