In the summer of 2018, Universal Games and Frontier Developments dropped arguably the best movie tie-in game ever made with Jurassic World Evolution. It was a stellar park simulation game that used assets from the Jurassic Park/World films to add scenarios and, of course, dinosaurs to up the ante, and create a sense of both wonder and chaos of trying to build and manage an amusement park. Jurassic World Evolution was one of my favorite games when it launched, and now, three years later, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is here to create more dino-chaos for you to manage and overcome, or stumble and let your guests become dinner.
The first game was a park simulator that incorporated the study and creation of dinosaurs to build attractions for guests to spend their hard-earned money to come to see. It followed the films from which it is based and put the control entirely in your hands. Jurassic World Evolution 2 takes a different approach. Following the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the dinosaurs are off the islands and out in the real world, and you’re tasked with finding them and building parks around them. It’s less about creating and managing the chaos that you inevitably create, and more reactively making lemonade out of 65 million-year-old lemons by managing the situations you come into.
The painfully short campaign serves more as a tutorial for this new world, tasking players with building new parks in regions around North America where the once-captive dinosaurs now run free. It allows the developers to introduce a handful of new creatures, like flying and aquatic dinos (both of which need specific types of enclosures and come with their own subset of issues), and get players familiarized with everything before you venture into the meat of the game. Even with the voice-over work of Jeff Goldblum, B.D. Wong, and Bryce Dallas Howard reprising their roles from the film series, the campaign never truly satisfies — but I don’t think it was supposed to. The campaign serves its purpose by introducing Jurassic World Evolution 2‘s new gameplay elements and swapping out “life finding a way” for you, as the park builder, to find your own way.
The real attraction in JWE2 is in the new Chaos Theory game mode. This addition allows players to replay scenarios from each of the five Jurassic Park/World films and play “what if…?” by escaping the mistakes that John Hammond made in trying to bring dinosaurs back to life after millions of years. There’s a sense of familiarity in Chaos Theory — both to the films and the previous game. It’s also possibly the most difficult of JWE2’s offerings, as there is so much to handle from finding fossils and locating DNA to create the dinos, to managing staff (scientists) and their near-constant whining — to avoid another Nedry issue from the first film — and then, of course, open the parks to generate income to reinvest in new and bigger attractions. It’s a constant struggle of science vs. nature, and it really encapsulates the feeling of the films.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is rounded out by two additional modes: Challenge and Sandbox. Challenge mode tasks players with handling specific scenarios with particular restrictions in play, like an in-game clock or a limited budget. These scenarios come with a variety of difficulty levels and make for a pulse-pounding park building experience — in smaller, bite-sized nuggets. The bonus here is that by completing challenges, you unlock new options and dinos for use in the other game modes
Sandbox is, well, just what it sounds like. The entire game is wide open for you to create a park as you see fit, curating the dinosaur attractions you want, without Claire, Ian Malcolm, Dr. Wu, or John Hammond telling you what to do and how to do it. Without the pressure of the other modes, Sandbox is a relaxing Sim City-like experience that allows you to be as creative as you want. I found a lot of fun in Sandbox and it really shouldn’t be overlooked in the grand scheme of things, as it has so much to offer park-building-game fans.
With Universal fully backing these games, all of the assets from the Jurassic film series are at Frontier’s disposal, and they certainly run with it. The dinos look fantastic when you zoom in all the way, and I like to watch them interact with each other as they hunt and kill live prey. The roars and noises are film-specific and really help to suck the player into this game world. This is truly a Jurassic Park experience and save for one small hiccup (that I’ll get into shortly), Frontier has spared no expense.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is available on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Series X and S, as well as on PC. I spent my time playing the PlayStation 5 version, and I was slightly disappointed that Frontier did not incorporate the DualSense controller’s speaker into the game in any way. With all the pop-ins from movie characters telling me what to do and warning me when things go wrong, it seems like a missed opportunity to not have those calls come in through my controller — like a real-life walkie-talkie. I’m not letting this oversight affect my score for the game, but it certainly is a missed opportunity to make the overall experience that much more immersive.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 expands on the foundation established by the first game by adding new dinos and scenarios from the two Jurassic World films, helping to further open this in-game world up and let players play God. I spent an obscene amount of time playing the first game back when it was released in 2018, and again last year when it came to the Nintendo Switch. And now, finally playing something new — if not familiar — makes me afraid that I’ll lose copious amounts of my time researching and creating dinosaurs, building new and fun attractions for the wealthy virtual guests to come and see, buy a T-shirt, stay at a fancy hotel, and most likely get eaten by a dinosaur on the loose. Jurassic World Evolution 2 is an exciting and amazingly deep park building sim that fully earns the Jurassic Park branding and puts all of the power in your hands, for better or worse.
This review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Frontier Developments.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 changes the game in more ways than one, letting players spend less time creating parks and attractions and more time reacting to a world where dinosaurs already exist.