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Jurassic World Evolution Switch Review


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Jurassic World Evolution released in 2018 for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but this year saw the park management sim's arrival on the Nintendo Switch. The Jurassic Park franchise has seen game installments almost as long as it's had films, and other games have seen Jurassic Park crossovers. Ever since the novel released in 1990 and the film came out three years later, the idea of a dinosaur theme park has been prevalent in people's imaginations. Now, players can relive the experience of managing such a park via the Switch.

Frontier Developments revealed the Switch port for Jurassic World Evolution at this year's Gamescom. Switch owners aren't just getting a copy of the base game; they're getting Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition, which includes the three narrative expansions of Return to Jurassic Park, Claire's Sanctuary, and Secrets of Dr. Wu, plus some Dinosaur Packs and a skin pack. Given how long the Jurassic Park franchise has been going on, the stories and plotlines have grown increasingly complex for a franchise of its genre, and players can get a lot of that intrigue in one game with the Switch version.

One thing that stands out with Jurassic World Evolution is how great the graphics look on the Switch's smaller screen. Even when the player is connecting their console to the TV, the small console size doesn't compromise the resolution too terribly. Often players expect some level of compromise in the visuals department on Switch ports, but the level of detail carried over to the Switch is impressive. While playing Jurassic World Evolution on Switch, it's possible to forget the game was originally made for heftier systems, helped by moments like watching a dinosaur's scales glisten in the rain or seeing trees and leaves sway in the wind.
 
 

Management sim games have come a long way since the early days of Sim City, and park management sims in particular have made huge strides. Although it can be annoying at times to realize that a restaurant won't start running because of pylon placement, there's no arguing that even having to manage the park's electrical system is a testament to Jurassic World Evolution's complexity. Adjusting power stations isn't the most exciting thing in the world, but complexity lends itself to greater customization. The various fine-tuning and adjusting that players can take part in can easily take hours, and Jurassic World Evolution lets players adjust everything from fast food menus to what genes they put into their dinosaurs.

The park management aspect of Jurassic World Evolution isn't just about keeping the visitors and inmates content, but playing into in-game politics as well. Beyond managing guest satisfaction and seeing to the health and happiness of the animals, which are both normal parts of park management sims, Jurassic World Evolution throws another challenge players' way by making them maintain faction reputations.

These factions take the form of the Hammond Foundation's three divisions: Science, Entertainment, and Security. They can provide quests and contracts that help the player improve their park and research, building upgrades, and fossil excavating strides in Jurassic World Evolution, while also providing cash bonuses. It can be quite annoying if one of the divisions feels snubbed via the player focusing too much on the others, leading them to sabotage the player's park. Of course, this is par for course with the Jurassic Park franchise, because who can forget the hubris and failure of the original park thanks to disgruntled employee Dennis Nedry?

The game's progression is fairly straightforward, placing the player on Isla Matanceros to play through the campaign before they can unlock other locations for the Sandbox or Challenge modes. These modes are also detailed and provide an alternate style of play for different types of players, with Challenge Mode adjusting to player's preferred level of difficulty and rewarding them with unlockable dinosaur skins.
 
 

Given how intricate and detailed the entirety of Jurassic World Evolution is, it makes sense that the controls would also be complicated. However, Frontier Developments manages to map the PC and console controls onto the Nintendo Switch's Joy-Cons effectively, without making the process seem convoluted. Sure, the player might confuse X and Y and open up the Island Management screen instead of Island Navigation a few times, but that's only to be expected when learning a new game's controls. If anything, this is just the way the Nintendo Switch is, and not a fault of Jurassic World Evolution. The joysticks are intuitive enough in their control of the camera, and everything else is something the player can either adapt to soon enough, or change around in the Controls menu.

Many people were quite naturally excited to hear that Jeff Goldblum would be appearing in Jurassic World Evolution, and his snarky jibes as Ian Malcolm are a delight to hear for long-time franchise fans. The game itself is very tongue-in-cheek about the morality and ethical nature of running a theme park filled with dinosaurs, as well as questioning the logic of the whole operation. In this way, Jurassic World Evolution keeps with the tone and ethos of the whole franchise, while staying quiet enough on the quips to not ruin the player's experience.

Overall, Jurassic World Evolution a game that players will not enjoy if they don't like management sims and the plate-spinning and detailed fine-tuning that comes with the genre. It's a niche genre of games, but it's one that Jurassic World Evolution exemplifies well. The graphics are very good for being on a Switch port, the voice-acting is fun and adds another layer to the game, and the mechanics are largely intuitive and don't take much getting used to. Jurassic World Evolution was a well-built game when it came out in 2018, and the DLC additions and Switch port have only further proved that this is a game that fans of the franchise and management sim lovers will enjoy.

Jurassic World Evolution is available now for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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