This week, Yahtzee reviews Jurassic World Evolution.
If there's one major indictment of our current era, besides the chocolate syrup they serve with the brownies at Domino's Pizza that's like dipping them in slightly viscous water, it's anti-intellectualism. It's been on the rise ever since the word "scientist" started comfortably fitting after the word "mad", but you know what? You're not meeting everyone else halfway, scientists! When you go around saying, "My education is based on the groundwork of tens of thousands of years of progress and strict scientific rigor, and that is why I'm a better authority on my sphere of expertise than a suburban housewife who half-remembers a Facebook post she read once," well, that's the kind of superior attitude that makes people stop vaccinating their kids out of spite.
I mean, you want to start turning things around, science, I can think of one place to start: stop ruining everyone's fun when it comes to dinosaurs! I've never met a dinosaur that a scientist hasn't tried to ruin; Jurassic Park comes out and everyone's enjoying the T. rex and the velociraptors, but then Johnny Scientist jumps up and goes, "Um, actually, we did a little bit more science, and we've learned that velociraptors were 2' tall and feathered and could be trained to fetch slippers. Also, the T. rex was more of a scavenger than a hunter, and all the other dinosaurs used to bully it and knock its schoolbooks out of its tiny, pathetic arms." Well, for the record, Jurassic World Evolution is staying consistent with the films, with velociraptors being the prickliest little madams in the daycare center, which kind of compromises its usefulness as a learning resource. And that's a shame, because the whole "fun and entertaining to play" thing didn't work out, either.
But let's not over-salt the pudding before the first thrust. Jurassic World Generic Subtitle is a business management sim wherein our task is to wave our corporate botties at the lessons of history and build a bunch of all-new dinosaur parks for rich white tourists to come and look at who, I guess, aren't satisfied with just taking a nice holiday on an unspoiled tropical island; no, they've got to see some perversions of nature, as well, so that Mrs. Klebold next door doesn't show them up again with her pictures from her trip to Euro Disney. So we're given an island, and we usually kick off by building a simple enclosure with some nice, boring, un-fussy dinosaurs who don't mind posing for selfies, stick a gift shop opposite it so the plebs can buy Struthiomimus t-shirts, and wait for enough money to accrue that you can build something sexier.
And you know what? The park executives in the films must have spent all their time coked to the eyebrows, 'cos it turns out, stopping dinosaurs from escaping is easy peasy, Murdoch-sleazy. If only Richard Attenborough had known that you just have to click on each dinosaur, and a bunch of meters will pop up showing exactly what makes them comfortable, with regards to enclosure size, terrain type, diet, whether you're piping in death metal or Barry Manilow, etc. You have the omnipotence of a fickle creator god when it comes to landscaping, so all you have to do is adjust the environment according to their preferences, and they instantly stop banging their heads on the walls and become nice as pie. You don't even need the electrified barrier at that point; a white picket fence will keep them in.
Having said that, earlier on, before I noticed the stat screen and had one or two instants where I didn't notice a small gap in the fence because I couldn't see it through the fucking trees, I did have a couple of escape incidents; this was when I discovered there is literally fuck-all you can do about escaped dinosaurs if you haven't got a helipad. Only helicopters can tranquilize the slippery little fucks, so if it's still early and you can't afford one yet, then all you can do is hope to God it just wants to steal the candy floss and get in a few photobombs.
I had jeeps; I had jeeps for days, each one equipped with a dude with a dart rifle. But the only darts you can fire from jeeps are healing darts, and that's sending the entirely wrong message to a Ceratosaurus that's chewing on the bottom two-thirds of a little screaming lawsuit-in-waiting. So if I were you, I'd stick to herbivores until you've got a helipad, 'cos I guess there's some real arbitrary dickishness going on at the Dart Rifle Firers Union.
Carnivores are just complete pricks; that's another thing I had to learn early on: don't put carnivores and herbivores in the same enclosure. "Oh really, Yahtz? Thanks for the insider tip; don't forget to remind us not to mistake an orbital sander for a wanking sock." All right! It seems obvious now! I just assumed it'd be fine as long as everyone was high on comfort and had readily-available food, but nope! Carnivores just have the "prick" gene and will murder any herbivore it sees, even if it's full, content, and getting regular pedicures. But after you learn these lessons, running the parks is very straightforward, and here we get to the central awkward truth of Jurassic World Ebola Virus: that the interesting part of Jurassic Park the film was not the part where everything was going swimmingly.
To spice things up, we're given tasks by our three company divisions: the science division, who think we're running a research facility; the entertainment division, who think we're running a theme park; and the security division, who, I guess, think we're running a prison for dinosaur drug dealers or something. Complete a task for one, and you'll lose points with the other two, which feels like drawing things out unnecessarily and doesn't point to a terribly healthy work environment, but it's particularly odd when they all give you the same tasks. Entertainment Man says, "Hatch a Stegosaurus because people think they're cool!"; Science Lady says, "Hatch a Stegosaurus 'cos we need to research how cool they are for science!"; and Security Dude says, "Hatch a Stegosaurus 'cos we're going to put targets on its back plates and use it as a firing range."
Actually, I don't mind the missions, 'cos I like business sims to be goal-oriented; don't see much appeal in just sitting on a perfectly-functional park, accruing more imaginary money that I don't know what to fantasize about doing with. But at the same time, I do think Jurassic World Electric Boogaloo is a bit thin and lacking the personal touch; all the spaces you're given to develop in are kind of pokey, and the range of buildings is small and low on options. There is one and only one kind of restaurant you can stamp out when your park is scoring low on food availability: it is simply named "Fast Food", and I assume it sells everything in featureless gray packaging like an Australian tobacconist.
You can rename your Brontosaurus "Sergeant Bell-end" and paint him in khaki brown instead of khaki green, and that's about it, as far as personalization goes, but he'll still have infinitely more personality than the human guests. Human beings just seem to grow on the walkways like a fungus; you get money just from Captain Generic's Tolerable Fast Food Emporium existing, and not how many individual guests pass through it, which I guess is fine, but it does mean it's hard to sympathize when the attractions bust out and start chewing on them. Even more so when they all gangly come straight back the moment the threat is gone, already thinking about what a funny story this will make when they explain it to Child Protective Services. I don't know; I guess I just like to know who a person is as I'm picking their dentures out of the T. rex's litterbox.
- Life found a way: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- I've got 50 mil in the bank and this is after the raptors got out and murdered two guys, so all in all, shut the fuck up, Jeff Goldblum
- You're welcome, science