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Game review: Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park DLC (PC)

24 Feb 2020

Return to Jurassic Park is Frontier Development’s latest expansion for Jurassic World: Evolution, their dinosaur park management game. The expansion adds a bit of nostalgia for long-time fans.

The inclusion of the original 90s-era Jurassic Park has been the most requested feature by fans of Frontier’s Jurassic World: Evolution. With Return to Jurassic Park players get exactly what they wished for.

Set after the original 90s films, Return to Jurassic Park has the original team of Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Ellie Sattler and John Hammond returning to Isla Nublar to restore Jurassic Park so that it can be reopened.

Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum return to voice their characters from the original film. John Hammond’s part is played by another voice actor as Sir Richard Attenborough sadly passed away in 2014.

Over the past two years since its original release, Jurassic World: Evolution has developed into an immensely engaging park management simulator. Like many players, I’ve long since left the campaign modes - instead, I’ve been building my own parks in the sandbox mode. 

Returning to a structured story campaign was a challenge. Whilst the acting and story is good, some of the missions are a bit tiresome, and reminding me of some of the pathing issues that are still present in the game. I would have gobbled up Return to Jurassic World if it had been released a year or so ago. Right now, though, it was like starting the game from scratch. 

The expansion starts with a brief visit to Isla Nublar to see exactly what sort of a state it’s in. Then it’s off to The Lost World’s Site B on Isla Sorna. Here players need to sort out the dinosaur hatching facilities and start looking for new dinosaur DNA fragments to build up the species genomes.

With Site B up and running, the game returns players to Isla Nublar to rebuild Jurassic Park, restock it with dinosaurs and get it ready for visitors. It is here that the rest of the new campaign is played.

As with the main campaign, the game progresses by completing mission tasks. There are also optional contracts with their own rewards, and these continue after the last mission has been completed, allowing players to continue to engineer and develop their park. Completing these contracts, assigned by the characters in the game, also unlocks research options for additional upgrades.

The gameplay is the same as the main campaign. It revolves around juggling a number of jobs that all need to be kept on top of. There’s a bit of basic housekeeping whereby rangers must be tasked with filling up feeders, administering medicine, repairing fences and tranquilising escapees. There’s also deceased dinosaurs that need to be helicoptered out, as well as arranging the return of aforementioned tranquilised escapees to their correct enclosures. 

Many buildings and facilities need to be researched prior to use. Some of these are only unlocked after completing certain main missions and contract tasks. This can be a little frustrating if you’ve got used to playing in the sandbox. As a reward for completing the expansion campaign, though, you do get access to 1993 versions of both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna.

Expeditions need to be sent out in order to dig up new dinosaur DNA. The samples then need analysing to build the dinosaur genomes. Dinosaurs need to be incubated off-site and transported to their enclosures when ready.

Even though the mechanics are quite simplistic, there’s a lot going on that needs a fair amount of micromanagement. Take your eyes of the ball and you’ll have diseased dinosaurs infecting the whole herd as well as smashing fences and running amok.

Once the park is opened, not only do you need to look after your stock of dinosaurs, but you also need to look after your visitors. The people need hotels, places to shop and places to eat.

There are is also the park tour to maintain and keep an eye else a rowdy dinosaur decides to attack the safari cars.

Visually, Return to Jurassic Park is as stunning as the main game. The 90s-style buildings and a livery are very nostalgic. This is one for the fans more than anything, as the DLC doesn’t really add anything to the gameplay (indeed, it takes a bit away- to be in keeping with the original Jurassic Park). The use of the available actors from the original movies is also a nice touch. 

If anything, Return to Jurassic Park is a good reason to dust off your copy of Jurassic World: Evolution, if you are a lapsed player. If you’ve not stopped playing the game since release, this DLC is a no-brainer.

Verdict: 7.5/10