Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition (Switch) Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and PC
Jeff Goldbloom, as iconic ‘90s character Dr. Ian Malcom said that "life will find a way." Well, in Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition, life can now find a way on-the-go too, as the business simulation game finds its way to Nintendo Switch.
Originally released in 2018 for PC and other consoles, Switch owners get all the post-release content from the start. The Complete Edition comes with grand total of 68 dinosaurs, almost double the 27 included in the base game when it first released. Along with the 5 dinos that were available to purchase and the 7 free updates to the game in its first year, Switch players are also getting the 19 dinosaurs that have appeared in paid DLC too.
From the start, you have plethora of options to choose from. There are three campaigns for players to work through, with the first one acting as a tutorial of sorts for the game. It holds your hand a little, as you are slowly introduced to new buildings and new things to monitor in your park, but that first island is quite easy really, once you get to grips with the basic mechanics.
There are missions for each island from each of the three main departments: Entertainment, Security and Science. Completing these unlocks things like new fossils and buildings, but in order to do raise your reputation with the division high enough to get the mission, you need to complete contracts – which is where it gets a bit tricky.
Completing an Entertainment contract will increase your rep with that division, but also lower your reputation with the other two. Once that reputation gets very low, you’ll find structures and buildings getting sabotaged – it happened a couple of times to me and bar one event which involved velociraptors going wild on my guests, it’s manageable.
The gameplay loop is fairly simple; your job is to create dinosaurs and to create a profitable/safe park. To do this, you need to send your Expedition Team off to find fossils, which you can analyse in your Fossil Centre, before hatching in a Creation Lab – where you can alter their genetics. A Ranger Team can refill feeders, medicate animals and repair fences or buildings while your ACU team tranquilises and transports your dinosaurs when they get loose or just need moving.
You can assign tasks to your rangers and your ACU team, and upgrades make those tasks shorter, or you can take the wheel or jump in the cockpit and do it manually. Depending on how hectic things had got in the park, I switched between letting the AI deal with problems and taking control myself. The shooting and driving mechanics are nothing more than fun – this isn’t Forza or Call of Duty – but they don’t have to be, and it’s a nice change of pace to just admire your dinosaurs (and take pictures if you want) from the other side of the fence in your car.
Anyone who has played any game similar to this before will pick it up quickly. Power Stations power your island, with pylons and substations helping to get power to your buildings, while keeping your guests happy is a case of having enough different dinosaurs and ensuring they’ve got the usual amenities to keep them happy. And obviously, keep your dinosaurs and your guests separate, unless you want to rack up legal fees.
As well the other buildings you’ll have to utilise, you’ve got a Research Lab, where you’ll work towards upgrades for buildings, new dig sites for fossils, medical treatments for your dinosaurs and that most important section – genetics. This isn’t the 90s, just creating dinosaurs isn’t good enough anymore. No, it’s all about the strongest, the quickest, the most resilient – you get the picture. Creating new hybrid dinosaurs is the best way to get more guests into your park, and if there’s one lesson I took away from the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films, is that the most important thing is that it’s all about making as much money as possible.
After raising half a dozen or so herbivores, I decided to incubate my first carnivore, which quickly went to work on reducing my herbivore population. But the crowds loved it, so as sad as I was that Clarence (my first dinosaur, the only one I had named at that point) died, at least her death wasn’t for nothing.
The dinosaurs in this game are fantastic, the best animals that I’ve ever had to look after on a management game. Each has their own statistics that need attention, otherwise you’re going to find them trying to break out or just flat out kill the others if they’re that way inclined. Each time you successfully incubate a dinosaur, it gets its own little cutscene as it leaves the Creation Centre.
As someone who has never been a massive Jurassic Park or dinosaur lover, I’ve been won over by the creatures in this game. My favourite moments throughout my 30 or so hours I’ve had so far with the game have been the quieter moments, when everything is working as it should and I can just watch what my creations are up to.
I caught a couple of surprise fights, as two dinosaurs fought for Alpha status in the enclosure or noticing that one dinosaur was feeling a bit lonely, so I created her some friends. Playing it on the Switch, with the ability to just check up on my creations while I’m out or on-the-go is handy, and it definitely helps to play the game in shorter sessions.
Playing it in handheld/tablet mode isn’t ideal, the size of the screen is the main issue, but I was very surprised at how easy it is to play with a controller. My biggest worry with any game like this that comes to the Switch is how easy it will be to play, how accessible it is playing with a controller vs mouse and keyboard. I have to say, it was very easy to pick up and play, with shortcuts for your Ranger and ACU in particular, coming in handy often.
There is wealth of content on offer here, with cameos from Jeff Goldbloom and other actors from Jurassic World, as well John Williams’ iconic score giving your endeavour across the five islands available a cinematic feel at times. Aside from the campaigns, there’s a Challenge mode, where you need to get an island to a five star rating as quick as possible, and the sandbox mode, which lets you create the park of your dreams (or nightmares).
Frontier Developments have given us Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon in the past, and it's obvious that they know how to make these kinds of games work. Adding in the licence for Jurassic World and fans of that franchise will want to (and should) play this game.
This is a game that I am going to continue to sink hours into on my Nintendo Switch, playing through each of the campaigns and creating my ideal island on sandbox mode. Learning which dinosaurs can cohabitate peacefully and keeping my dino friends happy and comforted is so much more fun and rewarding than I thought it would be and with all the extra content on the Switch version, it might just be the best place to pick up the game for the first time.