It feels very timely to be writing this article today, mere hours after filming for the third film in the Jurassic World trilogy – the title for which has now been revealed as Jurassic World: Domination – has started.
Since landing on Games with Gold at Christmas, barely a day has gone by for me without at least a quick go of Jurassic World: Evolution (though it’s extremely difficult to only play for a short time; I find it too compelling to do so). Despite a glitch affecting one of the achievements – I still haven’t had the game register that I’ve unlocked one of the main five islands, even though I did unlock the achievement for 5-star ratings on all islands – the credits rolled twice for me; once when reaching that aforementioned all-island 5-star rating milestone and, just prior to that, when I finished the missions on every island. It took a little over 60 hours to get there.
Yet it still wasn’t enough. I’ve not really touched Isla Nublar – a sandbox island where you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want – yet, but wanted some more mission-based action and more unlockables. So I did the logical thing and downloaded all three of Jurassic World: Evolution’s expansions.
Of the three, I’m probably most keen to get my hands on the nostalgia-powered Return to Jurassic Park, which features the original film’s cast and has the ability to reskin the entire game as if it were 1993 all over again. Claire’s Sanctuary, one of the other expansions, has further dinosaur species and rescue-based missions to undertake, but has to be played outside of the main campaign.
Due to the fact that resources such as research and dig teams can be shared between islands (and considering that I’ve built up quite a fortune on many of the islands, making progress a little easier by switching between islands when I play), I decided to tackle The Secrets of Dr Wu first. Taking place on new areas of two of the islands that have previously been unlocked, The Secrets of Dr Wu sees you undertaking some very challenging missions to breed and test Henry Wu’s new hybrid creations. Dinosaurs such as the Stegoceratops, Ankylodocus and Spinoraptor are among Wu’s experiments, and the missions you’ll undertake to gain access to them – and some great genetic modifiers, along with some new building upgrades – become extremely challenging by the end.
It’s more of the same, albeit with Henry Wu looming over the proceedings, and an odd theme of clandestine experimentation on more remote parts of your tourist trap island – which doesn’t really gel, considering that you still have to attract visitors and build a working public facility anyway.
The hybrids are the major selling point here though – and they’re great, if a bit daft. There’s none of the non-specific, entirely new creature feel of the Indominous Rex and Indoraptor here – they’re obvious mash-ups of two creatures in both name and appearance. That said, it’s great to have more options and unusual looking creatures (the Stegoceratops is probably my favourite) – and the extra genetic traits that can be applied also allow for quite a bit more customisation with any of your animals. The two new non-hybrid species – the Troodon and the Olorotitan – are nice additions as well.
Being able to adjust the socialisation and habitat requirements for your animals is an absolute godsend – and really helps when you’re gunning for the five star ratings on any island, which can become quite tough when your enclosures are getting more and more populated.
Finally having access to the Indominous Rex’s camouflage ability is great too, but it feels wrong that this wasn’t just included in the base game – given that it has this ability as standard in the Jurassic World movie.
There’s a lot here though, and the two new areas are very challenging to do well at, especially when you’ve become accustomed to being quite frivolous with accumulated wealth at the later stages of the game. It was quite a shock to the system to have to work in quite confined spaces with quite a limited amount of cash when starting the expansion. That, however, isn’t a fault of the expansion at all.
Pro tip: the extra building upgrades, further genetic traits and high rated hybrids would probably have been very useful in the later stages of the main campaign, so if you do get hold of this expansion, make sure not to do what I did. Instead, play it straight away in order to give you more options when working through the main islands. I have nothing to do in the main campaign now – but the bonuses I could have had access to would have made my life a lot easier as I got to the latter stages of the game!
Special mention must go to BD Wong’s continually excellent and sinister portrayal of Dr Henry Wu, who seemed so innocent and idealistic in the first movie (it was great to see him return as a more nefarious presence in Jurassic World, much more aligned with the character’s persona from the original book). Though we only hear him in voiceover and see a few static images of him, his presence is nonetheless felt constantly in this expansion – and it’s very welcome.
So is it worth buying? I’d say that it’s definitely worth picking up as part of the Expansion bundle, where you’ll get a discount for purchasing all three expansions at once – or in a sale. It doesn’t feel like quite enough content to justify the cost at full price, but I’m certainly glad I bought it (in the bundle – so yes, you can expect reviews of the other two expansions as soon as I’ve played through them too!). I was very keen to continue building theme parks and genetically engineer more dinosaurs in Jurassic World. Considering that the base game was kinda, sorta free (though there are people out there who’ll loudly and vehemently disagree that a Games with Gold giveaway is free, which is a weird hill to die on), I didn’t mind spending full price on the bundle to give myself new stuff to do in a game I’ve found ridiculously compelling since I first played it. In short, if you were as much of a fan of the base game as I was, don’t hesitate.
If you weren’t that into it to start with, however, given that it doesn’t shake up the formula of the main game as radically as you might expect, this expansion isn’t likely to change your mind.
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