“So you call it a world, when it’s quite clearly a park?” “… Yes.”

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Ian Drans­field Pub­lisheR Fron­tier De­vel­op­ments De­vel­oper Fron­tier De­vel­op­ments For­mat Xbox One ETA June 12 2018

Fron­tier has been chip­ping away at the park-and-an­i­mal based games on Xbox for­mats for over a decade now, but we might fi­nally have its mag­num opus with Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion.

Yes, even though it’s a movie tie-in, and yes, even though it calls it­self World but has you build a park. It has to be named for the movie it’s re­leas­ing along­side, af­ter all.

Evo­lu­tion is the cul­mi­na­tion of the Bri­tish de­vel­oper’s ef­forts, com­bin­ing a con­sole-friendly con­trol sys­tem, deep and en­gag­ing park man­age­ment me­chan­ics (much more fun than that sounds), and some of the best di­nosaurs we’ve yet seen in a game. As well as, of course, the abil­ity to set the beasts loose in your park, if you’re a psy­chopath in wait­ing.

Play­ers build up their park-world em­pire from hum­ble be­gin­nings – or at least as hum­ble as they can be when you’re lit­er­ally play­ing god – plac­ing fa­cil­i­ties and paths, build­ing en­clo­sures and cloning low level, low threat her­bi­vores to re­lease into their glo­ri­fied cages. It’s a straight­for­ward, al­most serene be­gin­ning and soon lures you into a false sense of se­cu­rity.

While it looks like noth­ing can go wrong in these early stages, even we were sur­prised to see a usu­ally non­threat­en­ing her­bi­vore tear through a fence and ter­rorise the guests, be­fore be­ing swiftly tran­quilised by our he­li­copter-based on-site team. Turns out we’d ne­glected her so­cial needs, and a crea­ture so com­pletely alone as only one sep­a­rated from its own kind by 66 mil­lion years can be has ev­ery right to get up­set.

This is where things start to snow­ball in com­plex­ity – you have to man­age the needs of in­di­vid­ual di­nosaurs, you have to make sure there are fully equipped fa­cil­i­ties on site to deal with any­thing that may arise, you have to re­search and up­grade your park and its at­trac­tions (ie di­nosaurs), and you al­ways have to re­mem­ber that the en­tire point of this es­capade is to make money. So build t-shirt shops.

Chaos the­ory

It’s a lot to take in, and that’s be­fore even think­ing about the im­pact chaos can have on pro­ceed­ings. A key tenet of the movie (and book) se­ries, this un­der­handed blighter of a con­cept gets stuck in at times, bringing storms and sab­o­tage your way, and threat­en­ing not just the sim­ple run­ning of your park but the hu­man lives lo­cated in­side it. Our ex­pe­ri­ence with a her­bi­vore es­capee was one thing, but change that to a cou­ple of Ve­loci­rap­tors and you’re talk­ing a whole other level of threat.

And that’s the key thing – this isn’t a se­date, friendly, typ­i­cal movie tie-in with no bite. It’s a proper man­age­ment game from a de­vel­oper with the chops to carry it off with gusto. It’s a game that you can play as a sand­box, where you can stick with the eas­ier is­lands from ear­lier in the game and just build a haven for your peace­ful beasts. But it’s also a game with a dark edge and a pro­cliv­ity for es­ca­la­tion, should you take your eye off the ball – or di­nos – for a time. Nat­u­rally there are no guar­an­tees

Juras­sic World Evo­lu­tion will be a great game, and our time with it was both limited and from an early ver­sion. All the same, the in­gre­di­ents are a fine mix – the right de­vel­oper, the right genre, an in­cred­i­ble li­cense – so our en­thu­si­asm is high for this one. There are al­ways go­ing to be chaotic el­e­ments at work, try­ing to make sure things don’t come to pass as you ex­pect them to – we’re hope­ful in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance the chaos will be look­ing the other way.

“A proper man­age­ment game from a de­vel­oper with the chops to do it”

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