Jurassic Park Evolution
I recently wrote about my love/hate relationship with tycoon games in a Stately Scrying, but I bought Jurassic Park Evolution because I love the theme and I knew my boy would love watching me play - and helping with some dino decisions.
So far, I’m loving it. I’m not far in, but now that I understand the systems, by first park is beginning to thrive, though as Dr. Malcolm predicted, there is still chaos from time to time.
The vibe that I get from Evolution is a little bit Anno, a little bit Motorsport Manager. This isn’t a tycoon game in the vein of Rolercoaster Tycoon where advancement is primarily through money, which leads to more rides, which leads to more money, etc. instead, there is a research system where you need to spend money in different areas of research to unlock new buildings and features. Many of your projects, therefore, have prerequisite buildings or research. In a way, there is a bit of an RTS element to the game.
The game also has three general divisions (science, entertainment, and security) from which you will constantly be receiving missions, which serve to help guide your progress. This means there is always something specific to do. It also leads to a bit of a balancing act, as each division will give you certain upgrades, but you can’t focus on everything at once. I was immediately reminded of Motorsport Manager and the multiple upgrade paths that force toy to decide where to prioritize your money and time.
Reviews for Evolution are all over the board with much praise and much scorn. Those who are unhappy with it seem to want more depth; in Evolution, for example, you can’t check in with individual guests, you can’t change the speed or even pause, etc. I personally couldn’t care less as the game gives me a slight RTS vibe and doesn’t lose me in all the minutiae. And it isn’t as if the game is shallow - the research trees, the genetic modifications, and even the dinosaurs themselves offer plenty of depth for me.
The highlight of the game, of course, is the dinosaurs. They look great and they do seem to have personality. I had a blast when I build a new pen and put a carnotaurus in it. I later released a triceratops and as the gate was opening to let the trike in, my carnotaurus snuck through the trees then made a bolt for the gate. He didn’t get out, but I immediately knew he would be trouble. I also idiotically put the trike in the same pen, thinking that because they could defend themselves, they could co-exist. Instead, they killed each other and I was genuinely sad that my sneaky little carnivore didn’t last much more than a month.
So far, I’m very pleased. If I were a number crunching min/maxer who devours charts and graphs for dinner, maybe I would find the game lacking, but it has hooked me more than other tycoon games on personality alone.