Hovering over a dinosaur island theme park, a Tyrannosaurus roars. It’s that iconic Jurassic Park sound, nearly deafening audiences in theaters. Nearby, Velociraptors screech. Their recent live kill made them celebratory. The aura of Jurassic Park fills Jurassic World: Evolution. John Williams’ wondrous theme over the main menu? That’s cause for genuine chills.
Jurassic World: Evolution is the logical videogame of Jurassic Park. Rather than the corny and sloppy adventure games of 16 and 32-bit eras, this and Operation Genesis stands as true interactive interpretations of the material. They lack in Michael Crichton’s scintillating adventure and the movie’s visual thrills, but celebrate the science, the capitalist fervor, and inevitable chaos.
People will, inevitably, die in your park. A dinosaur – carnivore or herbivore – will escape, either trampling or smushing visitors. True to the fearful real world foreshadowing Crichton envisioned, Jurassic World: Evolution treats these deaths with indifference. It’s less about loss than corporate bottom line. It’s expected. Financial rewards are given for people not dying. There’s no need to remove dead people from the park either. Dinosaurs though, as products, need maintained when their time comes.
Jeff Goldblum narrates at times. He speaks of chaos and the torture of science. A nice checkmark for the box, a redundancy in terms of Jurassic World: Evolution. Managing a park inevitably creates distance to the animals. Other than managing food and ensuring general happiness, the de-extinct creatures roam, indifferent to your input. There’s no personal connection; this isn’t a Tamagotchi. Jurassic World’s dinosaurs pump up a stock ticker-like bottom line in the lower left corner. More dinos, more guests, more money. Simple, no different than the litany of “tycoon” games that littered Wal-Mart at the turn of the millennium, but with a satirical hold of the potential moral and genetic conflict.
It works. Creating separation, treating victims as forgettable numbers, and cranking out inspired genetic anomalies digs into Jurassic Park’s heart. While never dark, seedy, or uncomfortable (similarly, Spielberg’s big screen take avoided the messier parts of Crichton’s novel), Jurassic World: Evolution exhibits the catchier, glossier Hollywood touch. Yet, it’s a more competent and strengthened take on what Jurassic was first intended to be.