Reviews

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park hits in the feels

Published: 10:01, 10 December 2019
Frontier Developments
Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park landscape
Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park

Return to Jurassic Park, Frontier Developments' latest DLC package for their dino-managing simulation Jurrasic World Evolution, has been a highly anticipated one for more than one reason. Firstly, it adds a bunch of new stuff and secondly - it's the original Jurassic Park.

When we say original, we're talking about the 1993 movie that gloriously kickstarted the Jurrasic franchise on the big screen, which Frontier Developments tried to recreate in detail with Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park. 

We've been kindly provided with a copy of Return to Jurassic Park ahead of time, and we've spent most of it walking down the memory lane. Even before we get into the nitty-gritty details, we can safely say one thing - the authenticity of Jurassic World Evolution's new DLC would make Spielberg proud. They even got that silly logo in.

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park, the silly DNA character Return to Jurassic Park, the logo!

Jurassic Park Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park - What's New?

Return to Jurassic Park features seven new story missions, all of which are set on Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna. The original cast is there, including Sam Neil as Dr Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr Ellie Sattler and the ever-so-buttery voice of Jef Goldblum, who is replaying his role as Dr Ian Malcolm.

New Dinosaurs and Skins

Many of the dinos got a cosmetic overhaul to bring them in line with their Jurassic Park counterparts, and this includes T-Rex, the Clever Girls, i.e. Velociraptors, and more. 

As for the completely new species coming with Jurassic Park Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park, you're looking at Compsognathus, those tiny, piranha-like swarmers, and the long-awaited delicate flyers - Pteranodons.

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park DLC dinosaurs Return to Jurassic Park newcomers

New Buildings 

Pteranodons are a different sort of a creature than we're used to in Jurassic World Evolution and therefore required a new building. Say hi to the Jurassic Park Aviary:

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park, the Aviary building Return to Jurassic Park, the Aviary

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park introduces restrooms, which the 1.12 update adds to the base game as well. Naturally, their Jurassic Park variant keeps in line with the whole thatched-roof theme. 

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park, guest buildings Return to Jurassic Park, guest facilities

Cafes and Gift Shops also got the thatched Jurassic treatment but perhaps the most iconic addition is the gate. Yes, the "What've they got in there? King Kong?" gate. Frontier obviously nailed the 1993 automotive lineup as well, and you can check out your park first hand from the tour cars, with cameras and everything.

Frontier Developments Jurassic Park gate as shown in Jurassic World Evolution Return to Jurassic Park, that gate!

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park brings the new Visitor Center, which streamlines all the Research and Fossil operations by having them in a single building.

Just like in the movie, these islands are secluded and reached by helicopter, so helipads will be acting as both arrival points and dinosaur delivery service, the latter being hauled over from Isla Sorna hatcheries.

Frontier Developments Jurassic World Evolution's new Helipad and Visitor Center Return to Jurassic Park, Helipad and Visitor Center

Clever Girls got a Velociraptor Pen:

Frontier Developments Jurassic World Evolution, the Velociraptor Pen Return to Jurassic Park, the Velociraptor Pen

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park has no viewing galleries - it has tours:

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park tour guide hut Return to Jurassic Park, tours instead of galleries!

New Mechanics

Ranger teams have received a buff in Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park, and they're now capable of medicating and tranquilising dinos, along with shooting flares. Their days of careless driving, resupplying and medicating are over though, so do keep an eye on the moodier ones when taking screenshots or trying to help them.

Frontier Developments Jurassic World Evolution vehicle banged up by dinosaurs Return to Jurassic Park, was that selfie really worth it?

The DLC relies on ground teams for everything but transport of knocked out and deceased dinosaurs, but the update 1.12 means that base game's ACU teams have an identical set of darts, as well as a camera for those sweet aerial shots. 

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park, the 1993-style tour cars! Return to Jurassic Park, the 1993 tour cars!

The most profound change has to be the way in which you go about making money. It's about designing tours with mobile viewing in mind, rather than spamming galleries. This requires a different mindset and some minding of the dinosaurs' preferences. 

Many of them are quite moody and/or picky about certain things, and things are always close to escalating into a Jurassic-grade disaster. Some are so picky that you'll be glad they went extinct. 

Seriously, strategy games usually entail your mistakes coming back to bite you on the ass, but Return to Jurassic Park makes it both figurative and literal.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Story 

With guidance by the returning cast, players will be trying to restore the Jurassic Park glory in stages, each one with its own set of obstacles. The franchise by now relies on the Murphy's Law effect for the story, so it's bound to get a bit predictable. Overall, it's still a decent job.

From being a Jurassic repairman to scientist dino-breeder, Return to Jurassic Park players will be having fun while learning more about the game and the franchise's iconic spots. Snappy comments by mister Goldblum? More, please!

Frontier Developments Return to Jurassic Park cast members Return to Jurassic Park cast. You know the fourth one!

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Graphics & Audio

The landscape is just stunning and visiting some spots is sure to give you flashbacks. One of the most difficult parts of this review has been the image selection - this has to be among the most screenshotable games ever. 

Having always imagined the awe of laying one's eyes on the Jurassic Park's giant herbivores, getting into a jeep and driving over there was as glorious as seeing that scene for the first time. Sublime is the closest word I've got to describe the feeling. 

Frontier Developments Jurassic World Evolution dinosaurs grazing Return to Jurassic Park, you know the place, you know the scene!

As for the audio, Jurassic World Evolution lost the Golden Joystick Award to God of War in this department, which really says enough. For a game that features ancient monsters, it's a surprisingly serene experience that can eat up hours in what feels like seconds.

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Gameplay

Return to Jurassic Park somewhat simplifies the Jurassic World Evolution experience, although you could just as easily argue that it streamlines it in order to follow the source material. Making it fun while staying true to the 1993 classic required some cutting, most notably of galleries and other visitor buildings, but we think Frontier struck a good ratio in the end. 

In fact, Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park seems like a perfect introduction to the game, thanks to the slightly lower focus on the park management aspect and more accent on the dinosaurs themselves. 

Instead of spamming galleries, the DLC will have you designing courses that take visitors through the park. You'll invariably be adapting to the environment, so expect more open enclosures, although you're still free to re-tailor everything to your will.

There's a good chunk of gameplay to be played through here, and chances are you'll give the base game another spin afterwards either. Thankfully, you can play through the challenges and sandbox modes with the classic Jurassic Park overlay, for that complete retro feel.

Frontier Developments Jurassic World Evolution, the Aviary interior Return to Jurassic Park, the Aviary from the inside!

Verdict

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park is certain to hit all the right notes with any true fan of the iconic franchise. It is a more streamlined experience compared to the base game, making it an ideal introduction to Frontier Developments' award-winning sim. 

Newer players will get eased into Jurassic World Evolution's more business-heavy aspects a bit more gradually, while veterans will surely appreciate a gorgeous-looking return to where it all started, and face a few challenges while they're at it. 

Return to Jurassic Park DLC is a decent-sized package that adds a bunch of juicy content for £15.99 / €19.99 / $19.99. It expands the base game and adds another flavour to challenges and sandbox, so it's really a no brainer for any fan of Jurassic World Evolution or the franchise itself - 8/10.



Developed and published by Frontier Developments, Jurassic World Evolution is out now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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