PLATFORM: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Following in the fossilised footprints of its 2018 predecessor, Jurassic World Evolution 2 expands on the original's park-building strategy management aspects with additional construction, customisation and modification options along with a bunch of new dinosaurs (over 100 in total) to genetically engineer and thrill (and potentially terrify) your customers with. Its initial campaign serves as more of an extended tutorial than a fully-fledged story mode – it teaches you the basics of constructing new facilities and enclosures, sending scientists on expeditions, keeping your dinos comfortable and managing the various staff members who help keep things running smoothly, but there's still much left to learn. The five campaign missions are over within a couple of hours, and then the real fun begins - now that you know how things work, it's time to venture into JWE2's all-new Chaos Theory mode, a much deeper, longer and more involved set of missions based on alternate "what if" takes on the storylines from each of the Jurassic Park films (with voice acting from some of the actual cast alongside some not-too-convincing soundalikes).
Not content with asking you to build a few simple enclosures and feeding a handful of dinosaurs, Chaos Theory mode gives you a ton of different jobs from researching and upgrading your facilities and adding extra attractions to entertain your customers to messing about with gene modifications to create unique spins on your new pets. At the same time, you'll be having to keep a close eye on your bank balance and park rating, watch out for attempts by rivals to sabotage your hard work, make sure the staff are happy, stop dinosaurs from breaking free of their cages and running amok around the park, and keep researching and sending scientists off on expeditions to expand your collection of attractions. Chaos really is the name of the game, with things getting increasingly frantic as your objectives become more and more intricate, with the game's refusal to define its parameters for success making things particularly challenging (or frustrating, depending how you look at it). Being asked to achieve a 3-star rating doesn't sound like it should be too tricky, but you'll be pulling your hair out when you've researched and upgraded as far as you can and you're still hovering at 2.2 stars...
Elsewhere, a challenge mode asks you to gain a full 5-star park rating as quickly as possible, and Sandbox mode - maybe the biggest draw for many players - allows you to do whatever you want without any pesky objectives getting in the way. You're only allowed to use buildings and dinosaurs that you've unlocked in the other modes though, which does limit the fun slightly - you can't just dive in and immediately start throwing T-rexes around... More involved, challenging and stressful than JWE1, you'll need plenty of patience and a keen eye for stats and figures to get the most out of this one. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll absolutely have a great time!