Let me tell you about the ‘essence of chaos’
Chaos theory, at its core, is simply a mathematical view and model in which anything can end up drastically different within a dynamic system. Or as one Dr. Ian Malcolm once said: “The shorthand is the butterfly effect. A butterfly can flap its wings in Beijing and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”
That said, you’ll be hearing a lot from Dr. Ian Malcom in Jurassic World Evolution, as the actor portraying him, Jeff Goldblum, reprises his famous role once more. Also appearing are other talent, such as Bryce Dallas Howard, who appears as Claire Dearing from Jurassic World and the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. From the moment you start Evolution, however, you’ll be greeted with an introduction from by Dr. Malcom as he goes on to say: “So, before you are the islands that you need to manage… if you can. The Five Deaths. Jeez, if only… If only there had been five.”
It’s here, on The Five Deaths, where my tale begins. A tale that has left me millions of dollars in debt from visitor causalities, mostly due to attacks from roaming velociraptors and a dilophosaurus. All under the employ of a complete psychopath who, I think, loves the “essence of chaos” a little too much.
Jurassic World Evolution (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Released: June 12, 2018
Jurassic World Evolution can pretty much be summed up as a business simulation game, very similar to that of the Zoo Tycoon series or even Evolution’s spiritual predecessor; Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, which was easily one of my favorite games growing up. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty thrilled for the announcement of Evolution and to have another chance to build my dream dinosaur-filled park.
My journey as park owner began on the first island of Isla Matanceros. It’s here where Evolution takes you through the basics of running your business, with a small park already set up and ready to go, informing you on how everything works. Then, soon enough, you’ll be breeding your first dinosaur while Dr. Malcom lectures you on life and playing God. It’s here you’ll also choose your first contract from three specific divisions of your park, broken up between science, entertainment, and security.
The contracts themselves are basically minor tasks, such as a breeding a specific type of dinosaur, or taking a photo of a dinosaur engaged in certain actions. Doing these various contracts nets you a chunk of money, as well as further increasing your standing with one of the divisions. You’ll definitely want to complete these, as they allow you to unlock various features in Evolution, such as new amenities like restaurants and hotels. You can even unlock new research such as various genes, which you can mess around with to alter your dinosaurs.
Once you’ve completed a number of contracts and increased your standing with one of the divisions, you’ll then unlock a mission. Each island in Evolution has a mission from each of the three divisions that you’ll need to complete in order to fully progress, with six islands in total. You’ll constantly need to balance these contracts to unlock each mission. This is tricky because if you ignore a certain division for too long, it can have some pretty heavy consequences. For example, if you ignore the security division for too long, they’ll straight up tamper with your park, such as disabling the power to your electric fences.
Best yet, guess who runs the Security Division? That psychopath I mentioned earlier, named George Lambert. I knew I’d get nothing but trouble from this guy the moment he assigned me the task of opening the gate to an enclosure and letting a dinosaur loose. All just so he can “test out the new ACU helicopter.” Next thing you know, I had an edmontosaurus running into a crowd of people, causing them to immediately rag-doll once trampled. As you can already probably guess, the other divisions and Dr. Malcom weren’t exactly thrilled with this dude.
After raising my park’s rating and completing the three missions on the first island, I made my way over to the next location, Isla Meurta. I noticed during my time spent on the first park, that dinosaurs have a specific rating system attached to them. Notably, carnivores seem to have the higher ratings. So, I figured the quickest way to improve my park ratings, unlock all the features and dinosaurs, and get through these islands would be to create as many carnivores as possible.
Despite the obvious risks, I went ahead and set my plan into motion by creating an enclosure filled with a dozen velociraptors. Once the enclosure was completed, I unlocked a new mission from the Security Division and George Lambert. The mission seemed simple enough, breed a dilophosaurus and velociraptor and make them fight to the death. I figured I already have velociraptors, so all I need to do is breed the dilophosaurus in their enclosure, then sit back and watch the fun.
Sure enough, out walked my genome-spliced dilophosaurus with a different color pallete and improved attack stats. I thought it was only fair, considering he was about to get slaughtered by a dozen velociraptors. Then, out of the blue, my sensors went off and alerted me to an oncoming storm. I immediately panicked and activated my shelters. Then, once the storm hit the island, it took out a few power stations. So I took control of a ranger jeep and set off to reboot the power.
Things only got far worse, as it turns out, the velociraptors and dilophosaurus weren’t too interested in fighting one another once another group in the enclosure broke through the fence. I was then notified that thirteen dinosaurs had escaped into the park. Let’s just say the chaos theory was certainly on my mind at that moment. By the end of it all, it took me upwards of ten minutes to tranquilize and move them all back into their enclosures with the ACU helicopters, with plenty of random employees and civilians getting killed in the process.
Thankfully, getting your ratings and money back up is fairly easy in Evolution. Carnivores and heavily modified dinosaurs give you great ratings, which in turn, bring more people to your park. So, despite a number of people getting killed, I simply returned the velociraptors to their enclosure and even expanded the park with a dilophosaurus enclosure. It’s like if someone told you they witnessed an entire family get killed riding a dangerous roller coaster, but then the park tore it down and built an even bigger one. Now they’re telling you they’ll be the first in line.
As of this writing, I’ve yet to see all the available islands. But, from what I can tell, five of the islands contain different park scenarios you need to complete, each with three missions. The final island, known as Isla Sorna (otherwise known as Site B for you movie fans), is a free-roam park that’s much larger than any other island in the game – with unlimited money – and lets you build anything you’ve already unlocked.
I’ll definitely be covering more of the business management and sim aspects of Evolution in the full review, along with my thoughts on Site B. Until then, I have over 40 different dinosaur species to hatch, many of which have much larger teeth and greater possibilities for things to go horribly wrong.
[This review in progress is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]