‘Jurassic World Evolution 2’ review: builds on solid foundations to reach the next level

Bigger, better, even more teeth

Frontier Development’s excellent reputation for management sims continues with Jurassic World Evolution 2, a dinosaur-management delight that improves on the original in every way.

There are two campaigns available to play through in Jurassic World Evolution 2. The first has a simple premise; ‘Ah f**k, the dinosaurs are eating people again’. There is only one obvious solution to this problem: put a little fence around it. But this time you aren’t just breeding and researching new dinosaurs to give your park a fabulous new attraction, no – Jurassic World Evolution 2’s campaign focuses on the rescue and containment of dinosaurs that broke free during the last attempt at fortune.

This more reactionary motivation is a nice change of pace – building an enclosure for a reason other than profit is a nice spin on the genre, and it means the only way to introduce new dinos to your sanctuary is to capture them from the wild. You no longer fill the role of a megacorporation’s profit-making mad scientist. Instead, you respond to alerts as if you were a member of the RSPCA (albeit, with much better funding). Arriving on-site via helicopter and raining ketamine darts from the sky is no longer a logistical response; you’re running a rescue operation, not operating an egotist’s zoo. You will work to save people from wild roaming dinosaurs and protect the dinosaurs from unnecessary harm. What could go wrong?

Jurassic World Evolution 2. Credit: Frontier Developments

The downside to the lack of prehistoric exploitation is that everything feels a little too quiet. The opening mission takes place in the deserts of Arizona. Without the hubbub of customers and bright lights of attractions, your complexes can quickly start to look like a dinosaur-exclusive solitary confinement facility. Each mission in the campaign is very much a paint-by-numbers affair: follow the instructions given to you until eventually you are allowed some freedom. But even then, there isn’t a massive amount to do beyond capturing some dinos and making sure they are happy. These missions are gentle and pleasant but left me yearning for a reason to decorate or build efficient paths.

Chaos Theory is the second set of campaign missions. Each of these is a different what-if scenario within the films of the Jurassic Park series. You will be placed in charge of one of the classic parks, and it’s up to you to avoid the disasters of the films. All five films have their parks available for you to jump in and manage, and you can choose any right from the go.

Jurassic World Evolution 2. Credit: Frontier Developments

As soon as the game returns to park management, it truly shines. All of the good parts of Jurassic World Evolution are there, and many are improved. Deeper options have been added to better help you run your myriad amenities. Want to appeal to the Gen Z crowd? Add a photo booth to your doughnut shop. Want entertainment for those high-rolling guests? Change your generic attraction into a spa. Players can customise each building’s colour to fit a theme, and specific structures can be used from your favourite period of Jurassic Park history. It’s a genuine, bonafide love letter to the series – and it’s all done with so much love and care, too.

Of course, the real stars of the show are the dinosaurs. There are over 70 to breed and house, with the most significant new additions since the last game coming in the aquatic and flying families. It turns out creating an ecosystem is tricky. Who knew? Building a habitat-per-species is undoubtedly doable – but very inefficient. Instead, the goal should be to construct a mixed-species habitat where each dino can claim its territory. Some herbivores might live well together, but one needs a vast amount of ground fibre, while the other wants dense forest. Combining these is doable, but provides a satisfying balancing act. And don’t forget the need to make dinos viewable to customers for maximum appeal – or else what’s the point in running a zoo?

Jurassic World Evolution 2. Credit: Frontier Developments

Sandbox Mode opens up the game’s systems to allow for complete freedom without the stress of funding, objectives, and overly temperamental dinosaurs. Here you are free to construct the park of your dreams. However, many structures, dinosaurs, and locations are locked behind progress in the other modes. One Mode, in particular, contains most of the unlockables, so it’s helpful that it’s the best one.

Challenge Mode should be where most players spend their time, outside of the excellent Chaos Theory campaign. Here you are presented with a plot of land, and it’s up to you to create the best park you can. You’ll need to send out researchers to gather fossils, work in the labs to acquire genomes, then incubate eggs in hatcheries. All while managing a hungry customer base visiting your attractions and providing you with that essential cash to keep your operation running.

Challenge Mode contains its own progression: reaching certain milestones will unlock the next location in line, and each comes with its own restriction. For example, Germany will only let you house herbivores and has a blanket band on all genetic hybrids. Achieving a five-star park will unlock new patterns for your dinos, depending on the difficulty. Once you hit a specific score on each map, it will become available in Sandbox Mode. It’s a nice, rewarding loop.

Jurassic World Evolution 2. Credit: Frontier Developments

Jurassic World Evolution 2 shines its brightest once foundations are established. You’ve got a couple of enclosures with good biodiversity. Funds are coming in at a reasonable rate, and customers are happy. It’s time for something new, so you begin research on lagoons for an aquatic dinosaur. Researchers go out on an expedition for fossils. You prepare pathways and restrooms for the guests. Then a disease hits your dilophosaurus enclosure. You push your researchers for a cure but end up overworking them. One of them goes rogue and sabotages the fencing. Rabid dinos flood the park, and helicopters hover overhead firing tranq guns. It gets under control – and the park rating will recover – but that half-built lagoon is going to have to wait.

Challenge Mode never gets overwhelming, and everything is easy enough to recover from. It does what Frontier has spent years perfecting: gives you stories of situations gone wrong while rarely forcing you into an unwinnable scenario. Learning from your mistakes, overcoming the disasters, and building a more extensive, better park always feels great.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 is an incredible package that contains exciting modes, fun challenges, and plenty of content. Many of the gripes from the first game have been ironed out, and everything great has been expanded. Fans of dinosaurs, management sims, or both will have plenty to get out of Evolution 2.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. We reviewed the game on PC.

The Verdict

Jurassic World Evolution was good, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is better. Most problems that arose in the original are addressed in the sequel, and many systems are improved. The first campaign mode is the weakest part of the game, despite an interesting premise.

Pros

  • More dinosaurs, including flying and aquatic species.
  • Chaos Theory lets you rebuild any park from the films
  • Challenge Mode is fun, engaging, and rarely punishing

Cons

  • Sandbox mode is limited by other progressions
  • Story Mode campaign is an underwhelming tutorial
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