In this review, we’ll be taking a look at Jurassic World Evolution 2– which follows up the weirdly enjoyable Jurassic World Evolution- park sims based on the popular pro-ethics propaganda book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
Still, its failings come from not quite understanding the appeal of the actual park sim genre- which can be a shame since dinosaur park sims are probably the most fun subset of what is ostensibly a niche genre.
As essentially a marketing arm for the Jurassic World movies, it has a simple goal: remind people that the IP exists, hopefully long enough until the next movie comes out.
Does Jurassic World Evolution 2 find a way? Read on and find out.
Down-to-the-grain, Jurassic World Evolution 2 has pretty solid gameplay. Like any park sim, you’re managing various resources- Dinosaur welfare, staff welfare, tech trees and, of course, money.
Money is the most important resource- resupplying is paid in cash, and you’ll need to pay your employees to take time off on top of the fact they’ll be unavailable while they’re on vacation.
My one gripe however is the lack of any kind of organization. Even if you had to refuel each generator separately, there’s no big tab to show you all your generators- it’s your job to find each one, then manually tap to fill them back up. It’s the same with every refillable resource- feeders, ranger outposts, they’ll all need to be checked one at a time, creating a feel of tedium for the sake of tedium.
This even extends to each of the game’s vehicles- you have to click each individual car to assign it to patrol, rather than the building it comes from. It’s weirdly in-depth, and just doesn’t feel right for the more detached park sim genre.
Lock Up Your Dinosaurs
One of the big features of Jurassic World Evolution is the fact that dinosaurs can break free of their enclosures if their needs aren’t being met, getting into the same kinds of life-threatening hijinks the movies are known for as a 3-tonne chanel handbag goes on a rampage to protest its lack of shrubbery.
It’s a cool feature, since it mainly punishes bad husbandry. Jurassic World Evolution 2 pushes the escapes further to the forefront with the weather system, which will randomly destroy your enclosures by shutting off power, upsetting your prehistoric pals and increasing the likelihood you’re going to see a breakout soon.
I’m not a fan of these because of how quickly they snowball- sometimes things go pear-shaped so fast that it feels like the game is aware of how simple it can be once you get into the flow that it needs to throw in a random snowstorm just to keep you on your toes.
At the end of the day keeping your dinosaurs is a very hard task, and almost makes you feel like you shouldn’t be doing it at all- which is, weirdly enough, a core message of Michael Crichton’s original book. Considering how laughably off-base Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom were in their messaging, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is actually weirdly on-brand, in a roundabout way.
One thing I do like about breakout dinosaurs is there’s more to do than just capturing the dinosaurs- you can have your guests evacuate into shelters, creating a nice feeling that you’re actually in charge, rather than just being a janitor fixing up the generators constantly with the power of a credit card.
Progression Is… Not Great
My biggest gripe with Jurassic World Evolution 2 is its progression system. The game has four main modes. What they do is as follows:
- Campaign: The game’s original story, set after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
- Chaos Theory: A mode where you replay the stories of various movies
- Challenge Mode: A harder mode with modifiers to help you unlock more rewards like skins
- Sandbox Mode: Your default park builder mode.
Now, I’m a pretty simple guy. I like park sims for their no frills just park sim gameplay. The problem is the game very much wants you to play Sandbox mode last, and does so in arguably the worst way possible.
Jurassic World Evolution has a meta-progression system, wherein any upgrades unlocked in the one mode will be present in others too. These include researching new buildings as well as, and you guessed it, the dinosaurs.
Admittedly once you get over the audacity of doing this, you realize it’s implemented as best you can. Campaign is a great source of new dinosaurs, since it gives you early access to Expeditions to get more dinosaurs, as well as live captures to boost your rolodex of dinosaurs early.
But the problem is still there- you don’t get to do the cool thing immediately, and you’re basically forced to grind out the story if all you want to do is relax and enjoy your dinosaur sim.
Add that to the aforementioned tedium of the actual gameplay and it’s an easy way to sour fans who might just want to get to the cool dinosaurs but are instead stuck listening to Owen Grady rattle off like every Chris Pratt character.
It does also play in to the difficulty of the game itself- since upgrades are so valuable, they’re also *really* expensive. Everything in Jurassic World Evolution 2 just kind of draws out what should be normal features, all thanks to the fact that your save is so much more than just a single game’s worth of progress.
The Dinos Themselves
Once you actually get to them, the dinosaurs in Jurassic World Evolution 2 are actually pretty cool, and writing about them is easily the most fun part of any review. They look great in the game, having a variety of cool animations for when you decide to see what they’re doing.
There’s a lot of depth to making them, too- if you’re extracting their DNA from fossils (your primary method of getting them), you’ll have a variety of odd genetic traits that can manifest, giving each dinosaur unique traits such as *really* hating Jeeps or getting sick easily.
They also have a plethora of needs, from the right environment to even having their own list of dinosaurs they can be kept with. It’s a great system, and you can tell the developers really wanted you to be focusing on the dinosaurs since it also retains the first game’s third-person mode where you scan them to check their status.
Add that to the healthy roster of extinct animals too- it’s not just T.Rex and Velociraptor, but various other D-lister dinosaurs can be found in the game- and you have what would be a pretty great dinosaur park simulator.
Heck, outside of the star dinosaurs a lot of them are kind of free of my biggest gripe with the Jurassic World IP, which is its laughably bad creature design. Some dinosaurs still fall into this pitfall- Carnotaurus is literally just T.Rex with horns, rather than the laughably dopey animal that scientists think it might have been.But other D-listers like Allosaurus actually look pretty ok. It’s a mixed bag, but it’s kind of been accepted that the Jurassic World IP was always going to stick to its monster-dinosaur designs rather than how cool we actually think modern dinosaurs look.
Life Finds A Way
As a park sim, you’d probably be hard to recommend Jurassic World Evolution 2 to, even in a review. It’s a tedious game in an already tedious genre, but not in a way that enhances the appeal. With dinosaur park sims set to be a more crowded genre, you’re probably better off waiting for another game.
That being said, if you’ve any love for the Jurassic World franchise, it’s also gonna be a hard sell. If you just like the world of summer blockbuster dinosaurs, go wild. There’s plenty of cool dinosaurs to enjoy as Owne Grady whispers sweet nothings into your ear. But if you’re the type who just wants to make a monster park full of T.Rex, it’s gonna take a while, so I can easily see that being cause for frustration.
Game reviewed on PC. Review code provided by publisher.
Jurassic World Evolution 2
- The dinosaurs look and act cool
- A very detailed care system
- As a Park Sim, if you just wanted to build a cool dinosaur park you can expect to be bored to tears
- Managing your park can get pointlessly tedious
Jurassic World Evolution 2