Jurassic World: The Game – Review

Title   Jurassic World: The Game
Developer  Ludia Inc
Publisher  Ludic Inc
Platform  iOS, Android
Genre  Strategy, Sim
Release Date  April 29, 2015

Almost ten years ago, I was fully immersed in the avant-garde strategy sim Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis which, considering it was on the Xbox with a controller, was a damned decent game.  It was basically Theme Park with giant frogs or something like that, and progression came through visiting dig sites and processing any amber you happened to dig up.  After weeks of solid gameplay, I’d built my park up to the highest possible standard and was basically just maintaining it rather than taking it further than was necessary.  Until one night.  I’d fallen asleep on the sofa, sitting upright, and was startled awake by my phone going off.

Bleary eyed, I answered the phone and focused on my projection screen to see an empty park.  A storm had taken down all the fences, allowing my beasts to roam the park and devour the visitors.  All that remained of my beautiful creation were two creatures – a rampaging T-Rex and an ankylosaurus which was saved only because it had become stuck between two rock formations.

Since then, I’ve yearned for a more up-to-date version with upgraded graphics, but the cupboard was always bare thanks to those pesky raptors. Thankfully, while console developers focus their time on adding numbers to the end of existing franchises or changing football strips slightly, the folk over at Ludia Inc (owned by Fremantle Media, who legally own six of the nine planets within our solar system, it would appear) turned their attention to a mobile-based release.  It takes us back to Isla Nublar and loosely follows the goings-on from the upcoming movie, featuring 2D-rendered cameo appearances from many of the characters, but in a drip-fed manner.  Let’s be honest, though, when the aim of the game is to build a park filled with dinosaurs, the last thing you care about is dialogue.

After the rapid-fire tutorial is out of the way, we’re given the chance to do whatever we like and focus on building… and battles.  Yes, battles.  Not only are we given the chance to Theme Park it up, but there’s an element of Mortal Kombat thrown in to the mix, albeit in a turn-based manner.  Each of the four classes of dinosaur affects the abilities of the opponents in something of a Rock, Paper, Scissors affair so going into battle against a carnivore with a herbivore isn’t the best idea on the island, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice as you need to balance your beast’s damage and health in order to survive and progress.  Skipping a turn will allow you to have additional moves on your next shot, which is great if your opponent used the block option but nasty if they went in for the kill.

Having these battles wasn’t something that I was prepared for, as I genuinely expected nothing more than a theme park simulator.  It’s a good way to earn card packs for an easy ride when it comes to hatching additional dinosaurs and picking up extra in-game currencies (of which there are four – DNA, Food, Tokens, and Cash) but they’re more of a distraction and progression could easily have been achieved another way, rather than shoe-horning a one-on-one battle scenario.  That said, it’s inoffensive and easy to get the hang of, although the later levels can be a real nightmare if you haven’t yet evolved high enough level dinosaurs.  Which, of course, can be easily overcome if you throw some money at the developers for the in-app purchases.

The beauty of Jurassic World is that there’s not a great deal of waiting around like you’d find in most other freemium games.  The building aspect can take hours, sure, but the mechanics aren’t such that you’re twiddling your thumbs like you would be with games such as Rival Kingdoms or Empires & Allies, and this is mainly because it’s all about the dinosaurs rather than structures.  If you want to increase the revenue brought in by your creatures, there are certain buildings available to you which will act as multipliers but they’re not even remotely necessary.  The only time you’ll ever feel compelled to go out of your way to build one would be if you’re desperate to increase your income or one of the many missions has tasked you with building a specific structure.

Dinosaurs, on the other hand, are more involved than simply dragging and dropping.  If you complete a battle in the arena, you’ll be given a pack of randomly generated cards and these will usually include some DNA, some food, maybe some tokens, but always at least one common dinosaur.  You can then go about hatching them and placing them in your park.  Levelling up comes through feeding the dinosaurs; after every five feeds you’ll see the creature’s stats progress.  Once you reach level ten (and subsequently twenty and thirty), you have to go through the evolution process to upgrade them further, but this requires like for like – a level ten triceratops will require another level ten triceratops in order for the research to begin.

With a considerable amount of food required in order to bring each dinosaur to the evolutionary stage, it could become quite expensive if you didn’t have the patience to wait for food to be generated naturally.  I haven’t yet worked out how much food is required to complete a full level-forty evolution but I do know that it requires nine different dinosaurs in order to evolve through each stage (one for level 10, two level 10s for one level 20, two level 20s for one level 30, and two level 30s to achieve one level 40).  After playing for a few days without having to resort to in-app purchases, none of my dinosaurs were strong enough to survive the level 11 arena matches so I reached a stalemate.  I should point out that this because I had only levelled up one carnivore and two herbivores to level twenty by that point, and the level 11 arena opponent was far too strong.

Going back to the Rock, Paper, Scissors scenario from before, however, and it’s entirely possible to evolve a pterosaur and an amphibian to have the advantage over a carnivore, but I chose not to go down that road.  With the free card packs re-spawning every five hours, the option to pick up free DNA by simply watching movie trailers, and in-game cash bonuses available from taking part in surveys or signing up to the likes of Netflix for a free trial, it’s entirely possible to keep playing on a semi-hardcore level without having to dip into your wallet.  The downside to this route is that you will likely never get to open one of the legendary card packs, and even at more than £35 they are very tempting.

Overall, Jurassic World is one of those titles where you wish they’d just released it as a full-price game and cut out the waiting time and in-app purchases.  It genuinely is a great way to spend time, and the animations themselves are very well made, but when you reach that point where there’s no way to win an arena battle without putting forward some cash or starting again with your dinosaur evolutions, it does take the shine off it somewhat.  Until that tarnish sets in, however, it’s a great nostalgia kick and a decent sidestep from the usual world-builder games.  Thankfully, they didn’t include any storm scenarios.  In case you’re wondering, my T-Rex never did get to eat the ankylosaurus; he may still be stuck between those rocks to this very day.

  • It has dinosaurs, which is a definite pro
  • Graphics themselves are nicely handled and the creature animations are excellent, especially when they're being showcased
  • One of those rare freemium games where you can play for a very long time before being hindered by the mechanics of IAPs
  • Very intuitive design and interface
  • Option to get a lot of the four in-game currencies for free by taking surveys and such like
  • Story is, quite honestly, pretty pointless
  • Would have liked to have been able to place more structures and manage the park more than just breed dinosaurs
  • The matching system for real-world opponents is skewed too far in their favour as you'll almost always come up against someone you couldn't possibly defeat, but it's also not necessary to take part

Jurassic World: The Game could quite easily have been a great full-price app, even around the £12.99 mark. There's a lot going on, great graphics, lovely animations, and being able to build another Jurassic Park-themed world has been a great nostalgia kick. The only real down sides to it are the unfair matching, and the amount of effort involved in evolving a dinosaur to level forty. Whether you're dipping in and out for half an hour at a time, or spending an entire evening working on your progress, there's still a lot of fun to be had from this freemium game. I'll definitely keep playing it, albeit at a more relaxed pace.

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  1. Chris Toffer says:

    I’m honestly shocked this isn’t total shit. Genuine surprise has occurred.

  2. Mark R Mark R says:

    Truly is a great game if you’re patient enough to never want to pay for progress. Killer for me was that I upgraded the firmware on my device, screwed it up, temporarily bricked the tablet, recovered it and re-installed the OS but it also removed my saves from several games. Figured it might recognise me through my Play account, but it didn’t restore my progress so now I have a starter park again and I can’t bring myself to keep going.

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