Thanks to December’s Games with Gold freebies, I have finally downloaded and played Jurassic Park: Evolution. I may be a little addicted already…
Review scores weren’t particularly high, so I hadn’t yet taken the plunge – particularly as the game had held its value somewhat, at least until it was given away on Xbox (cunningly timed to coincide with the ‘Return to Jurassic Park’ DLC).
Having read the reviews and digested the reasons for the mixed reactions, I do actually agree with many of the negatives that most critics mentioned.
Despite being a little overwhelming to start with (to be honest, that’s not uncommon for me and strategy/sim games), there’s the feeling that you’re just switching between menus and doing little more than starting timers at some points. It can feel a little too simplistic, though the tutorial doesn’t do a particularly good job of explaining some of the concepts of building (in particular, the requirements for powering your buildings is something that could do with more elaboration). There’s not enough to actually get into in terms of managing your facilities either, which is great at the beginning – when you’re just learning the ropes – but less so when your park is ticking along nicely and you feel as if you could spare some time to tweak your buildings.
And yet – for me, particularly – the simplicity of the game is a plus. I tend to struggle to find time to sink into big sim type games any more, given that my attention is often needed elsewhere. So being able to dive in for an hour or less at a time and still feel like I’ve achieved something is a definite positive for me.
There’s a real thrill in finding fossils and adding further data to dinosaur genomes, despite how it’s often handled in menus. Another thrilling – and somewhat stressful – element of the game comes in the form of the dinosaurs escaping their enclosures, particularly when you have a bored, hungry carnivore on the loose.
Another thing that the developers, Frontier, have nailed is the atmosphere – with great use of the classic Jurassic Park theme and a generally excellent, reactive soundtrack. The visuals are lovely too, with the dinosaurs in particular looking absolutely spectacular.
If you do happen to have an Xbox, it’s well worth downloading Jurassic Park: Evolution for the cost of a month’s Gold subscription. And if you don’t, it’s well worth picking up on sale – I wouldn’t say it’s worth paying full price for, as its appeal is likely to wear thin in the long term, but for now I’m definitely having a lot of fun playing John Hammond with my chunk of island scenery.
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