Several hours had passed and not until then, did I really contemplate that I was playing a strategy/business simulator on the console.  Sure with these types of games, you can never beat the mouse and keyboard, however so many games have attempted to crack this genre on console, yet few have achieved a huge deal of success, which makes Frontier Developments achievement with Jurassic World Evolution all that more impressive.  This isn’t a genre I dabble in too often, I used to when I had a capable PC many years ago, but I’m always weary of this genre on console.  The other recent exception to a quality and enjoyable personal experience was with Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2, albeit the later is a real-time strategy.  But still, both games offered a brilliantly calibrated experience if you have to use a control pad over a keyboard and mouse.

Jurassic World Evolution features four main different islands (five including a bonus), each one of them offering different challenges to deal with.  For example, with your opening island, Isla Matanceros, this will be your most pleasurable experience for which once you’ve gotten use to how most things work, you should be able to build and maintain a successful park with little issues, other than the odd power cut, an ill dinosaur or perhaps a dinosaur may escape from time to time.  The second island, Isla Muerta will have frequent rain storms, often cutting out power and you’ll have to make sure to shelter your visitors in a bunker until it all passes.  Then later in the game as you build up your park and dinosaur rating, and start to reel in the money, you’ll unlock five islands in total, all increasing in difficulty.

Whether it’s more frequent storms, having a night-time only park (just don’t let those pesky Raptors escape) and islands that encounter regular tornados, each island offers something a little different from the last.  There is a bonus mode of sorts also in Jurassic World Evolution, that once you’ve achieved a four-star rating in your very first island (Isla Matanceros), you’ll unlock a sandbox mode on a secret island that grants you unlimited funds to play around with, plus all the upgrades you’ve acquired in career mode.  If you want to know more about this secret island, then you find the details quite easily via an internet search, so I won’t be spoiling that for you here.  But this mode is a lot of fun, especially if you want to get away from the career mode restrictions now and again.

For a game of this type, especially on console, navigation and the user interface is vitally important, because if they game was over complicated to pick-up, it would no doubt put most people off quite early on.  Thankfully the reason why this game is such a fun experience, is because it’s so easy to get to grips with.  Once in your island, most of the tools and buildings you need will be found on the left-hand-side of the screen.  Then with a simple press on the Square button (on PS4), you’ll bring up a menu hub that details your parks progress, finances, buildings and resources to upgrade, details on expeditions to resource new fossils to create dinosaurs and more.  There’s even a cool section within the tabs that gives you details on key characters from the Jurassic Park/World franchise and information on dinosaurs as you unlock them, and so forth.

Speaking of characters from the franchise, Jurassic World Evolution features leading stars such as Jeff Goldblum aka Dr. Ian Malcolm, who will pop-up from time to time to give you advice or just to tell you how stupid we humans are.  However, Mr Jeff Goldblum isn’t the only star that’s reprised their roles here, because we are also joined by Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing and BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu.  Sadly, even though the character Owen Grady does appear, he’s not voiced by Chris Pratt.  The actor playing his role (AJ LoCascio) does a decent enough job considering, but you can clearly tell that it’s not Chris Pratt.  It must also be said that the soundtrack captivates brilliantly the wonderful and iconic music of the franchise and the in-game sound-effects do a fantastic job in setting the ambience, which all amounts to quite a relaxing experience.  Unless you’re getting power-cuts every five minutes and Raptors are eating your guests!

Building the biggest park isn’t the only way to make them a success.  Sure you’ll need a park full of dino variety, but you’ll also have to make sure that your guests have somewhere to eat and to spend their money at the various gift shop offerings.  You’ll also need to research and upgrade various sections of the park such as the rangers to feed the dinosaurs, fix fences and sort out the power-cuts efficiently.  Likewise, upgrading your power stations, research centre (which allows you to improve most things on the park), expeditions and more. Also, make sure that you splice some of the dino DNA, whether it’s changing the colour of their skin, making them more resilient to disease or just to look more vicious, having more varied and interesting dinosaurs goes a long way in keeping your guests happy and spending money.

Additionally, keep an eye on contract opportunities from the three different sectors (science, entertainment and security), which gives you bonus money for in most cases, completing quite run of the mill tasks.  If any of these sectors feel you’re neglecting their department, they will attempt to screw you over, so you’ll also have to play a little politics. I word of added advice, if you do screw up your first park and like me, you’ve simply not got enough money to make the park progress, you can reset the park and keep all the upgrades you’ve acquired so far.  This means that you can start a new park from scratch with all the benefits of all the upgrades and DNA research you achieved in your previous attempt.  So in many ways, think of your first attempt as just getting used to how things work, plus other than keeping all the upgrades, you’ll be going into your new park with all that you’ve previously learned so far.

All-in-all, I can’t recommend this game enough.  Sure this type of strategy game might be an acquired taste, but for the type of game it is, you won’t find a better optimised game of this genre on the current console.  You can tell that the team at Frontier Developments are huge fans of Jurassic Park/World as all their love, attention and dedicated seeps through this game and whether you’re familiar with this genre or not, if you’re a fan of the movie franchise, then there’s every chance that you’ll love this game too.  Jurassic World Evolution is a technical marvel on console and I doubt I’ll play a game in its genre which is as fun during this console generation.  If you’re a Jurassic Park fan you’ll simply adore this game, especially if you’ve been itching that Jurassic Park Genesis fix since 2003!