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‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ Review: A Celebration Of The Franchise

‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ Review: A Celebration Of The Franchise

Frontier Developments, I have decided to endorse your park

In 2018 I sunk way too many hours into the original Jurassic World Evolution. I was living the dream of running my own Jurassic Park for the first time since Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis on PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC back in 2003. Finally, the dream game for fans of the Jurassic franchise, a current-gen park builder, and the world was good. But just as the dinosaurs were all taken out by a meteorite hitting the planet, so too has the original Jurassic World Evolution been struck by an extinction-level event in the form of a sequel.

While you're here, why not check out our chat with Jeff Goldblum about all things Jurassic World Evolution 2...

Unlike the first game, Jurassic World Evolution 2 looks back at the franchise as a whole from the get go. As part of the Chaos Theory mode, players are offered the chance to take control of all the ill-fated parks that featured in each movie. You can either fix the mistakes - or, in the case of Jurassic Park: San Diego, run a park that never canonically even came close to opening. 

There are also different narrative purposes in each scenario, rather than just ‘run the park’. For example, the Site B Chaos Theory story, set after the events of Jurassic Park 3, focuses on capturing the surviving dinosaurs on that island and moving them over to Site A, as Masrani Corp begins populating the upcoming Jurassic World.

Another follows an alternate narrative, set during the time of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Here, Claire Dearing (the character played by Bryce Dallas Howard in the movies) has been given the chance to go back to the island after the events of Jurassic World, along with the Dinosaur Protection Group, to remove all signs of the park and set the island up to be a place for the dinosaurs to thrive.

Jurassic Park: San Diego /
Frontier Developments plc

As with the first game, the main cast of actors (with one exception - maybe the video above is a giveaway) don’t return to their roles. The voices for Chris Pratt's Owen Grady and Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond never really hit the mark, although Claire Dearing’s performer does a solid job replicating Bryce Dallas Howard. And yes, Jeff Goldblum is back as Ian Malcolm, and he shines in a way that only Jeff can, chewing up all his dialogue and stealing every scene he stars in.

Aside from Chaos Theory, the expected Sandbox and Challenge modes, there is also a campaign. Although extremely short, it sets itself up as a strong tutorial to bring players new and old into the motions of the Jurassic World games. I’m not entirely sure if this was the original plan, because it appears to tie into what we can expect to happen in the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion movie, but strays far away from any particular plot points - just sitting in the time frame after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom as the dinosaurs have escaped. As you’d expect, it involves wrangling wild dinosaurs into pens and working out what to do with them next.

The shift from park running in the campaign is a nice departure from the first game, allowing Jurassic World Evolution 2 to stand on its own as a title. Driving around and taking pictures of dinosaurs in the wild feels more ingrained into the story, and although the controls can be janky, it's fun driving alongside a Gallimimus. It may not be great gameplay, but as an addition to a park builder, it does what it needs to spark moments of joy. It’s worth pointing out again that this campaign is short - but that doesn’t really matter when you have the aforementioned Chaos Theory mode. 

A snowy biome /
Frontier Developments plc

When it comes to actual gameplay, there are a few new features mixed into the fray, but most of them are just refinements to an already pretty solid control scheme. You have more control over hiring scientists with specific skills in certain areas. There are now aquatic dinosaurs and different biomes - which are generally only a factor due to the change in locations in Sandbox, Challenge and Chaos Theory modes.

As ever, it does feel like there are moments purely out of your control that can go awfully wrong, and which sometimes feel undeserved. A storm popping up when you’re in the middle of a bad issue is a real RNG problem, and a kick in the teeth when you are making progress - especially as you can retry scenarios, and said storm may never spawn at all on the second time around.

Disappointingly, Jurassic World Evolution 2 doesn't feel as graphically polished as its predecessor. Yes, the dinosaurs look as fantastic as you’d expect, but there is some serious pop-in and low draw distances with detail. While sweeping your camera across the park, almost all shadows and fauna will fade into existence at surprisingly close quarters, to the point that it's incredibly distracting. I went back and replayed the first game in a densely filled park I had saved, and this was not an issue at all - save for some minor shadows much further away. This isn’t a game breaker, but seeing as I’m playing on Xbox Series X (the console that can run the visually stunning Forza Horizon 5), it feels like something is wrong.

A new underwater swimmy dino /
Frontier Developments plc

If you loved the first Jurassic World Evolution, and have been chomping at the bit to play more new experiences, Jurassic World Evolution 2 will go down a treat. It’s the perfect follow up in a way that expands on what was good with the first game and offers new styles of play and narrative scenarios that really help it feel fresh. The comparisons to the original bring all the good and the bad from that first game, so anyone who’s played it knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into. I just wish the visuals were as polished as its predecessor.

Pros: Replayable modes, Jeff Goldblum, more of the same great gameplay

Cons: Unpolished visuals, random events can ruin playthroughs

For fans of: Jurassic World Evolution, Planet Zoo

7/10: Very Good

Jurassic World Evolution 2 was released for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PS4 and PC on November 9, 2021. Review code for Xbox Series X was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Frontier Developments plc