The law of pop culture states that a hugely successful franchise must spawn, among other things: merchandise, a sequel (or sequels), and a game. Jurassic World already has the first, people are already taking bets on the second, and a few weeks ago, I stumbled on the third while browsing the App Store.
Jurassic World: The Game by Ludia is a theme park construction simulation game similar to SimCity, except that, well, the attractions in it are supposed to be extinct. It has its predecessor in Jurassic Park Builder by the same company. Both games feature infrastructure from the movies they’re based on, which you build your park around. Oh, and there’s no offline mode so you’ll need a good internet connection.
Beyond the usual “Buy structure. Raise structure. Collect money.” characteristic it shares with most construction sims, JW: TG’s economy revolves around 4 types of in-game currencies.
Coins – used to purchase structures and dino feed; time-based and earned from dinosaurs.
Food – for beefing up your dino buddies; gained from the park’s pre-built Food Production facility.
DNA – for evolving dinosaurs after every 10 levels, and for purchasing more dinos; acquired from “devolving” spare dinosaurs and as mission rewards.
Cash – for speeding up processes, activating additional incubators, and park expansion; usually gained as mission rewards.
The first two are easy enough to acquire after you’ve put in enough dinosaur pens. (The triceratops, the first species you get from the tutorial, earns coins every 5 minutes.) And it’s possible to go through a nice, reliable, and boring rotation of coin-feed-coin-feed-coin-feed after a few levels. DNA and Cash are a bit trickier to get and, although you can survive on not having much of the latter, DNA is important for evolution.
Fortunately, the game gives you a Mystery Pack every 6 hours, randomly bestowing you with a combination of any of the currencies, a dinosaur, or a mission.
Leveling is accomplished by getting XP from adding assets to the park, as well as by finishing Missions handed out to you by the movie’s characters. You get to interact with flat representations of mogul Masrani, badass high-heeled film heroine Claire, dorky Lowery, level-headed trainer Barry, and yes, hunky lead star Owen Grady. The missions follow a storyline that precedes the film’s, so curious fans, especially of the raptors, should find it interesting.
If you were annoyed with the main antagonist, Vic Hoskins, during the movie, he will be a special pain-in-the-ass when you play the game as he solely hands out the Arena Missions. The Arena is the game’s dedicated battleground, where you pit your raised dinosaurs against Hoskins’. Opponents are understandably tougher as you increase in levels. Gaining XP can be a bit of a grind after Level 15 when you’re forced to spend DNA to buy better dinosaurs OR wait until the Mystery Pack somehow miraculously grants you a rare species that can down the Head of Security’s 3-starred behemoths.
The Arena also features periodic showcase battles, which are a set of three match-ups that reward you with a rare dino pack. Then there’s the Live Dino Arena where you battle other players.
I decided to install Jurassic World: The Game out of a sense of curiosity. I had tried Jurassic Park Builder previously—though it bored me—and I had just watched the movie. I guess I wanted to compare? My line of thought went: Okay, I’ll play it. Once I start to stagnate on a certain level, it gets deleted.
I found gameplay engaging for the first few runs, especially because of the familiarity of the story and the characters that are woven through the game. (Why hello, CGI Chris Pratt. Rawr.) Plus, DINOSAURS! Each animal is nicely rendered and quite realistic…until they’re evolved, that is.
- Which reminds me, some things that made me raise my eyebrows:
The dinos become more…elaborate…as they increase in levels. I’m not sure if I should suspend my sense of realism because, after all, they ARE supposed to be EXTINCT. (I have to remind myself this every time.) But, colors? And spikes? Then again, maybe it’s meant to reflect how armor gets fancier the better it is, like in RPGs.
- The Arena. Owen Grady, let’s talk. Why are we suddenly using these dinosaurs as fighting machines? I thought we were supposed to be against all that. They’re “your animals,” you said. No killing, you said. But now you’re helping me with the Arena tutorial? Why are we playing into Hoskins’ hands??? (Said the girl that wished for a Grimlock to help her out.)
Despite my initial hesitation about making dinosaurs battle, I do get a kick out of winning. But only against Hoskins. I don’t even want to touch the Live Arena; I heard the fights can be very unbalanced. You guys can have that one.
At the moment, I am stuck on Level 16-17 trying to get past Hoskins’ Quetzalcoatlus with the 400+ behind. It’s lame, I know. I mean, only 400+? Haha. But then again, I was never patient with these things. So maybe this is the part where I start to stagnate. Or Hoskins gives me a challenge because I’m taking things seriously. Hah! Let me just rally my “animals…”
On an end note, I would like to mention that I know, after the movie, Owen Grady’s famed Raptor Pack gained tons of fans, wanting them as “pets.” (And if you’re one of them, note that I’m SMH-ing at you.) Hooray for you! Jurassic World: The Game gives you the opportunity to roleplay Alpha Raptor, but without the obvious danger that comes with associating oneself with potentially man-eating, prehistoric fauna. Alas! You are only guaranteed a Velociraptor—labeled Super Rare—after completing Stage 23 in the Arena, or being lucky with either the 6-hour Mystery Packs or the Super Rare packs gained as prizes for winning an Arena Showcase. Otherwise, prepare to spend real money.