I love Frontier’s trio of park-building games, but they are strange beasts. All three (that’s Planet Coaster, Planet Zoo, and Jurassic World Evolution, for the record) are slightly shallower management games than I usually tend to enjoy, but they make up for it with severe overperformance in every other regard.
I’ll try to elaborate. Imagine a Christmas dinner. You’ve got your turkey at the middle of it all, this massive bird made small by its flavour, and in this metaphor, that’s the management sim at the heart of JWE. Not bad, by any means, but anyone who’s being honest would rather have a chicken, or a nut roast, or what have you.
But then you’ve got “all the trimmings”, right? Layer on some honeyed parsnips, some stuffing, sprouts if you like, a bunch of little sausages, and an absolute beast of a gravy, and that big, bollock-necked bastard at the centre of the table achieves apotheosis.
Planet Zoo was probably my favourite game in 2019, owing to a set construction tools and animal models that were, frankly, the best I’ve ever come across. JWE, from the year before, didn’t even have PZ’s level of sophistication in landscaping and construction. It was definitely missing some pigs in blankets, let’s say. But the gravy saved the meal.
Because the gravy… was dinosaurs.
Cue the music from an old Bisto ad, abruptly transitioning with a record scratch into the Jurassic Park theme, as a T-Rex bursts through the wall and consumes not just the freshly-served roast on the table, but the family enjoying it. The beast tosses back its head to send the back half of a granddad tumbling down its gullet, and then looses a sky-shaking, elephantine bellow while a banner reading “Jurassic World Evolution is really good” flutters from the ceiling.