Juras­sic world evo­lu­tion

Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion looks like it could well be the rarest species of all: a good movie tie-in

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What could be cooler than cre­at­ing your own di­nosaur park? Watch­ing it all fall apart, of course. Find out more in our huge fea­ture…

The core ap­peal of a Juras­sic World (and Park) game has al­ways been the parks them­selves: about build­ing your own fenced off-part of the world to keep pre­his­toric beasts cooped up and hop­ing they don’t get loose. Or hop­ing they do, de­pend­ing on how your brain is wired up. Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion, com­ing to PS4, Xbox One, and PC in June from Fron­tier De­vel­op­ments, looks set to re­alise that fan­tasy in a more com­plete fash­ion than has ever been seen be­fore. For­tu­nately, what’s come be­fore – both from the dev team and within the wider Juras­sic fran­chise – hasn’t been for­got­ten or ig­nored. “I’m a fan of Juras­sic Park: Op­er­a­tion Ge­n­e­sis and I think we’re prob­a­bly in­spired by a lot of the same things that in­spired Blue Tongue back in 2003,” ex­plains Michael Brookes, game di­rec­tor on Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion. “That dream of run­ning your own Juras­sic is­land hasn’t gone away, and in fact I think it’s only grown stronger since Juras­sic World be­came one of the big­gest films of 2015.”

With the aim of ‘cap­tur­ing the dream’ and let­ting you build and run your own Juras­sic Park, Evo­lu­tion takes cues from the likes of Fron­tier’s own Planet Coaster – an ex­cel­lent game in its own right – and tasks play­ers with mak­ing an ap­peal­ing, in­ter­est­ing, unique park full of di­nosaurs. And it goes deeper than that, too, with Brookes namecheck­ing the Juras­sic fran­chise in all its forms all the way back to its orig­i­nal guise as a Michael Critch­ton novel in 1990.

“We want to re­flect the huge scope of the story and world sur­round­ing the Juras­sic se­ries,” he says, “The var­ied in­ter­ests and chal­lenges in­side In­gen, the threats pre­sented by the is­land’s lo­ca­tion and divi­sion ri­val­ries, the day-to-day chal­lenge of run­ning these is­lands and car­ing for the an­i­mals, and the way a few events can spi­ral into dis­as­ter if you don’t react to them in time. We want to put you in charge of your own Juras­sic World, but we also want to let you ex­pe­ri­ence the same kinds of ex­cite­ment, peril, and dread you feel watch­ing the movies by putting you into the thick of the ac­tion and let­ting you han­dle break­outs di­rectly if you wish.”

Diver­si­fy­ing DNA

You can also make your own di­nosaurs, we shouldn’t forget. While there’s a lot of man­age­ment go­ing on – plac­ing shops and fa­cil­i­ties, mak­ing sure your power grid is ro­bust enough both to pro­vide juice to all of your build­ings and to stand up to the in­evitable dev­as­ta­tion wrought by a trop­i­cal storm, and set­ting the price of chips – there are sys­tems lay­ered on sys­tems be­hind the scenes, and one of these in­volves tin­ker­ing with di­nosaur DNA. Well, it wouldn’t be Juras­sic with­out that, would it?

But you’re not go­ing to be cre­at­ing Franken­stein’s di­nosaur/mon­ster abom­i­na­tions, nor will you be go­ing down the route of Spore and mak­ing… ques­tion­able… crea­tures. “This is Juras­sic World science,” Brookes says, “so we want to keep it grounded. We’re not go­ing to let you un­leash a swarm of a hun­dred duck-sized T-rexes (or even one T-rex-sized duck) on some un­sus­pect­ing tourists, but as you ad­vance through the game your abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late the di­nosaurs’ genomes will im­prove. Cer­tain phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics can be tweaked and changed along with at­tributes such as at­tack, life­span and cos­met­ics.”

Yes, you can tweak the very build­ing blocks of your di­nosaur at­trac­tions in or­der to make them hardier, look bet­ter, get into more fights, or what­ever it might be you want from them. Even though you are bring­ing back crea­tures from tens of

“we want to re­flect the huge scope of the story sur­round­ing the juras­sic se­ries”

mil­lions of years ago and blow­ing plenty of minds along the way in do­ing so, peo­ple are fickle, and they’ll get bored of the same tricer­atops am­bling around af­ter a short while.

That’s where your old-school ap­proach to di­nosaurs comes in, in the shape of set­ting out on digs. It’s menu-based, you’re not ac­tively out there chip­ping away at a New Mex­ico desert, but does in­volve send­ing teams away to find more sam­ples for ge­netic use. The purer a spec­i­men, the more money it can bring in, the more you can tin­ker with your dino-de­signs, and the more cash you can make on top of that. Play­ing god’s all about profit, right?

Morals (and di­nosaurs)

There’s a real moral grey area sur­round­ing all of the Juras­sic fran­chise – those spar­ing no ex­pense, such as the orig­i­nal movie’s ec­cen­tric park founder John Ham­mond, are in essence bring­ing back a group of crea­tures that to all in­tents and pur­poses no longer ex­ists. It is at very best a van­ity project, and at worst a cruel way to squeeze money out of the gen­eral pub­lic just to let them see your dino-at­trac­tions. So… well, are you a bad guy?

“Well, John Ham­mond wasn’t a bad guy,” Brookes tells us, “The idea of Juras­sic World is essen­tially a no­ble one, but one that’s per­haps been cor­rupted by com­pet­ing in­ter­ests – the sci­en­tists who want to push the bound­aries of bio­engi­neer­ing, the com­mer­cial ex­ec­u­tives who want more tourist money, the se­cu­rity in­ter­ests who want to see just how dan­ger­ous these crea­tures can be…”

But your goal is one of es­sen­tial good – you house your beasts and care for them, mak­ing sure they have food and space and so­cial in­ter­ac­tions (and nam­ing them, though maybe not all ‘Barry’ like we did). “Your goals are no­ble,” Brookes con­tin­ues, “But we’ve made sure your moral­ity is tested in the as­sign­ments you’ll re­ceive along the way, and that Dr Ian Mal­colm is al­ways around to re­mind play­ers of the moral am­bi­gu­ity of their ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Ah yes, Dr Mal­colm. Mak­ing his sec­ond ap­pear­ance in a Juras­sic game (and third in the movies), the iconic Jeff Gold­blum is back in the role of the chaos the­ory-wield­ing sci­en­tist/ab­surdly charm­ing man. More than just a celebrity guest, though, Gold­blum’s char­ac­ter of­fers you the chance to pause and re­ally con­sider what it is you’re do­ing: “[He acts] as a con­science of sorts. He’s the one who ad­vises you on the morally am­bigu­ous tasks you’ll be handed, and the one who’s al­ways there to re­mind you that life can’t be con­tained.”

Be­cause, ah, it, ah, wouldn’t be, ah, the same, ah, un­less, ah, you were able to say, ah, life… ah… finds a way.

Chaos, then, plays a big part in Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion, and we can’t help but wel­come that with open arms. Aside from it be­ing a core con­cept in the Juras­sic fran­chise, with the in­abil­ity to ac­tu­ally con­trol what’s go­ing on front and cen­tre from be­gin­ning to end, it’s go­ing to make the game it­self a lot more fun (and chal­leng­ing) to play.

“One of the key themes of the se­ries is chaos, yeah,” Brookes says, “Dis­as­ters in Juras­sic movies rarely come out of nowhere, or from one source. In the first Juras­sic Park movie it’s right there at the start of the film – Den­nis Nedry makes the de­ci­sion to steal dino DNA from Juras­sic Park, which leads him to shut down the park’s se­cu­rity sys­tems. It’s in the mid­dle of a storm, so any staff who might help con­tain a dis­as­ter have been evac­u­ated. The power is shut down, the elec­tri­fied fences switch off. Di­nosaurs es­cape. It’s lots of prob­lems, not just one, and they com­pound each other so chaos en­sues.”

This feel­ing of es­ca­lat­ing calamity, of cas­cad­ing waves of chaos smash­ing

“We want you to feel that creep­ing sense of dread as things spi­ral out of hand”

against you as you try to hold back the dino-tide, is present through­out Evo­lu­tion. “We want you to feel that creep­ing sense of dread as things be­gin to spi­ral out of hand,” Brookes adds. “You might be able to han­dle one power fail­ure, a sin­gle storm, a lone theft or an es­caped di­nosaur, but any one prob­lem left for too long can cause chaos. A rough storm can cause power out­ages, power fail­ures can shut down elec­tri­fied fences, bro­ken fences can al­low di­nosaurs to es­cape, es­caped di­nosaurs can dam­age other en­clo­sures, and so on.”

In short, you need to keep on top of plenty of small crises as the game pro­gresses, or they can – and will – es­ca­late into much big­ger issues later on. It’s im­por­tant not to be put off by this chal­lenge, mind you. If you’re look­ing for a sim­pler life, you will be able to stick with ear­lier is­lands where di­nosaurs are

calmer, the weather is pre­dictable, and the chance of a Den­nis Nedry steal­ing tech is… min­imised, let’s say.

Saur win­ner

“No mat­ter how you play, your goal is to ex­pand your em­pire across the whole of the Muertes Archipelago,” Brookes ex­plains. “Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion’s campaign will take you around the five is­lands – each with their own cli­mate, ter­rain and other unique chal­lenges – as you de­velop new di­nosaurs, new tech­nolo­gies and com­plete ob­jec­tives for In­gen’s Science, En­ter­tain­ment, and Se­cu­rity di­vi­sions.” Aside from the chal­lenges that come with man­ag­ing di­nosaurs in dif­fer­ing en­vi­ron­ments (and deal­ing with those mas­sive storms), you also have to man­age the hu­man el­e­ment. Again, it’s some­thing that can con­trib­ute to the chaos of Evo­lu­tion, but it’s some­thing that – if care­fully man­aged – will pro­vide you with boosts to your park, how­ever you choose to run it. Just try not to work too closely with one of the three di­vi­sions (Se­cu­rity, Science, and En­ter­tain­ment) with­out pay­ing the oth­ers any at­ten­tion, as lop­sided de­vel­op­ment can and will lead to neg­a­tive con­se­quences.

Be­cause, when all is said and done, it’s the peo­ple of the Juras­sic fran­chise who are the true mon­sters. The beasts they bring back from ex­tinc­tion are just that – an­i­mals in an un­fa­mil­iar world, do­ing what it is an­i­mals do. They don’t climb all over each other just to get a bit of praise, or a bit more money, or for the glory and recog­ni­tion. They just hang out and eat stuff, some­times chat­ter­ing to their own kind, some­times fight­ing, and some­times get­ting too stressed and break­ing out of their en­clo­sures to make a meal of some of your visi­tors.

Mak­ing sure the an­i­mals are happy and not caus­ing unchecked dev­as­ta­tion should be a walk in the park (ex­cuse the pun) com­pared to mak­ing sure the peo­ple around you aren’t out solely for their own self­ish gains. Walk­ing that tightrope be­tween moral­ity and mak­ing the busi­ness as prof­itable as it can be: that’s a chal­lenge. Mak­ing sure the peo­ple are happy and aren’t screw­ing each other over: that’s a chal­lenge. Putting some recre­ated 65-mil­lion-yearold gi­gan­tic an­i­mals into a pen and keep­ing them fed, wa­tered, and out of trou­ble? That’s the easy part!

cover story Only the best games are fea­tured on GM’s cover!

It’s nice to see any fence in the Juras­sic fran­chise ac­tu­ally com­mit­ted to do­ing its job of be­ing a fence. So many over the years have slacked off, with deadly con­se­quences. You can leave it up to the AI to han­dle tran­quil­is­ing out of con­trol (or sick) di­nos, or take di­rect con­trol of both chop­per and shooter.

These two look like they’re about to drop the year’s big­gest mix­tape. They aren’t, though – they’re just eat­ing grass and stuff. Here’s an ex­am­ple of a bad time to hit that but­ton in your wheely­ball marked ‘ram­ming speed’. Tak­ing things out of the dino pad­docks, the park it­self is cus­tomis­able enough to be in­ter­est­ing and en­gag­ing. Yes, you can drop dif­fer­ent di­nosaurs in the same pen just to watch them fight. And yes it is awe­some.

These colour­ful cory­thosaurus are her­bi­vores. How­ever, even if they’re not go­ing to eat you, they can still cause you a whole world of trou­ble.

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