Common critical opinion seems to be that Evolution 2 is a considerable improvement on the first game. At times – perhaps when you’re waiting for a crowd of herbivores to overcome a spreading cold, or watching a hurricane tear through those flimsy outer fences, caging a grumpy Tyrannosaur – the whole experience can be a little cumbersome. In this park management game, you’re the gardener, maintenance director and ranger patrol scheduler all rolled into one fretful singly entity.
It can be tempting to switch quickly onto the more liberated playing field of Sandbox Mode – especially when you’ve finally fired enough scientists and are just climbing out of the red… then suddenly that storm icon flashes in the overhead display again.
The Closest You’ll Come to Playing the Film
So, what exactly makes all this grunt work worth it? The truth is, for anyone who’s ever fantasised about wielding Hammond’s amber sceptre and running their own dinosaur park, this is the closest you’ll come to the real thing. Sometimes, it sucks. That ankylosaurus just won’t stop tail-swinging at his confines. Or, the terrain just won’t agree with your choice of generator or pylon placement. Yet for the most part, this is an exceptionally heartfelt, carefully designed and infinitely playable offering to the Jurassic Park (now ‘World’) franchise. It lacks a little of the depth we enjoyed from other park-builders, like Planet Zoo, but the joy of releasing prehistoric beasts and watching them interact, or even break loose and prey on flailing guests, cannot be overstated. The animations are more realistic. The ‘90s jeeps are beautiful as ever. And what’s more, our realms of control have now expanded to include both marine and air animals.
Prepare to explore a wealth of over 70 unlockable species, from the most massive marine beasties (remember the Liopleurodon from Walking with Dinosaurs?) to the littlest land-dwellers (those nibbling Compsognathus critters are back!). That’s not even to mention the winged menagerie that now take flight in adjoining aviaries. Again, this is the closest you’ll come to playing the films and the animation and sound work is deeply immersive – just double-check that glass of water isn’t rippling beside you…
Everyone, from aspiring palaeontologists to dino-mafia guest torturers, will find something to while the hours away with here. Though the former might be crying out for a few feathers on our scaly ’94 velociraptors. Personally, we appreciate anything in here that’s a throwback to the original Jurassic Park game, and, for the first time, the outstanding Chaos Theory Mode allows us to right the mistakes of Hammond’s doomed ‘spare no expense’ legacy as well.
This time, greater emphasis is placed on conservation, medical care and the careful design of enclosures custom-built for their inhabitants. You might find yourself raking too much sand, and worrying too intensely about the placement of a particular rock, though the overall shift in focus is largely positive. Less time will be wasted restocking plant feeders, or chasing ranger patrols across the map, trying to control their movements.
Another gripe of ours has to do with fiscal obsessions evoked in the earlier stages of the game. Endless research, module adaptation, amenity upgrades… the whole labyrinth of profit-hungry busywork does begin to drag on and test your attention, especially if things aren’t going your way. The ability to speed up time is a welcome new feature. Though the pause button is likely a more irresistible function for all, when you park starts to grow and the gaming equivalent of plate-spinning inevitably follows. In fact, a considerable amount of time is spent watching profits and waiting to afford certain improvements. And the Dearing and Grady Campaign is a little underwhelming too – not that we don’t love hanging out the side of a helicopter and training our dart gun on a raging Allosaurus.
Overall, the more tortuous park management aspects of the game, along with the repetitive nature of the traumas that befall players throughout the game, serve to snuff out a little of the enjoyment that comes from this impressive sequel. However, the inherent thrill of entering the film and delving deep into a more expansive and malleable world of dinosaur park creation, remains intact.