William Stout, whose book The Dinosaurs: A Fantastic New View of a Lost Erainspired Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, presented a “Spotlight on William Stout” panel at San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition this weekend, and we were fortunate enough to attend. During the presentation he shared some very fun insights into his work on the ‘Escape From Jurassic Park’ animated series as well as stories from his career in the art and film industries – most interestingly those from his time in the world of Jurassic Park.
William Stout’s career spans more than 50 years, and his love for dinosaurs spans even longer. He wrote and illustrated his book The Dinosaurs: A Fantastic New View of a Lost Era in order to incorporate and share new discoveries about dinosaurs’ lives and behavior.
One of his first major film credits was Conan The Barbarian, and he first met Kathleen Kennedy (producer/executive producer of the first three Jurassic Park films) in the production office of that film. Through Kennedy and other connections in the industry, his name was in conversations surrounding the production of Jurassic Park in the early 1990s. Stout was among those considered by Steven Spielberg to be the production designer for the film. Though he was very interested and thought he could’ve been perfect for the job, Spielberg later chose Rick Carter (who did an incredible job). When asked about this, Stout said:
Stout certainly would have had a very unique take on the production of Jurassic Park. He remains a huge fan despite it all.
When asked about his time working on ‘Escape From Jurassic Park’, Stout said:
The unfortunate cancellation of the series is truly a shame. It sounds incredible every time it comes up in conversation, and it seems Stout really loved working on it. The image above, according to Stout, was “inspired by zookeepers feeding Condors at the San Diego Zoo.” You can view some of his concept artwork for ‘Escape From Jurassic Park’ in the gallery below. Read our exclusive coverage of the full season one plot of ‘Escape From Jurassic Park’ here.
What do you think about these new insights and stories from William Stout? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for more Jurassic coverage from San Diego Comic-Con!
Images and concept art courtesy of William Stout. Visit his website to see his incredible Jurassic works and more!
We finally now have our first clip from the upcoming season of ‘Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous’!
Titled “Mosasaurus Ocean Chase”, this 4-minute clip picks up not long after we last saw our intrepid campers as they attempt to drive the boat back to the mainland. Somehow, Darius is already in the ocean as a Mosasaurus is heading toward him.
To make matters worse, his leg is caught in a rope and some seaweed (without any context, it is hard to imagine how this happened). Kenji dives in for the rescue as the Mosasaurus continues to swim in their direction. Tensions rise, until finally they both make it back to the boat before being gobbled up by the massive prehistoric reptile.
Unfortunately, the Mosasaur isn’t finished with them. It proceeds to violently thrash itself against the boat, jostling the campers all over the deck.
A body of land is seen not far ahead of them, as the Mosasaur thrusts itself into the air before landing with a crash and a splash against the boat… and the clip fades to black.
This clip was pretty exciting and well-executed for the show and does definitively answer the question as to why they clearly don’t make it to the mainland as intended. While it is a shame we didn’t get a real look at the mysterious new island that they end up on, we are only a week away from the release of the fourth season at this point: December 3rd on Netflix.
Does this clip excite you for the new season, or are you going to just watch the ‘Dominion’ prologue again, instead? Share your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned to Jurassic Outpost for the latest!
The ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Prologue dropped this morning on YouTube, and while it certainly was beautiful, there is no denying YouTubes compression crushed the details. Thankfully, we have the raw ProRes HD file, and have created a gallery for your viewing pleasure.
Hold on to your butts – the first footage from Jurassic World Dominion has hit the internet!
This original 5 min prologue to Jurassic World Dominion, directed by Colin Trevorrow, rockets audiences back 65 million years into the past to experience the world before humans existed—and offers a glimpse of a world in which dinosaurs are living among us.
The story will continue in theaters this Summer.
Stay tuned for our gallery of pro-res HD screenshots, and our breakdown of the footage coming soon!
After many – too many – months of waiting, the ‘Jurassic World Dominion‘ prologue that premiered in front of IMAX screenings of Fast 9 will make its way to home audiences. This upcoming Tuesday November 23rd the preview of next summers Jurassic Park sequel will debut on NBC at roughly 8:56pm EST, after ‘The Voice‘.
“A preview of the Jurassic World saga revealing the origins of the dino DNA that started it all.”
For those unfamiliar, the prologue opens during the cretaceous period showing dinosaurs before extinction, later cutting to show some brief glimpses into Dominions present day action 65 million years later. While the prologue is not entirely new, this will be the first time it’s been officially been made available outside of IMAX which is something fans have been asking for globally.
This of course may come as a small disappointment to fans who’ve already seen the very preview months ago and would like to finally see Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, Claire Dearing, Owen Grady and Ian Malcolm in a proper trailer – however it seems than will not come until February of 2022.
If you want to learn more about the upcoming prologue, be sure to check out our breakdown from over the Summer and stay tuned for more coverage once it releases!
Note: this article has been updated to reflect the final official airtime should be 8:56 PM, and not 9 PM as previously reported.
For years, fans of ‘Jurassic Park’ have wanted an art book of the franchise’s original three films. While we have had wonderful “making of” books for both ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’ since the films were released, there was only so many of the thousands of production artwork that could have been displayed. ‘Jurassic Park 3’ never even got any form of a “behind the scenes” book at all.
The most comprehensive book about the Jurassic Park trilogy to date, Jurassic Park: The Ultimate Visual History begins with an in-depth account of the making of Spielberg’s original film, including rare and never-before-seen imagery and exclusive interviews with key creatives. Readers will then unearth the full history of the trilogy, from The Lost World: Jurassic Park to Jurassic Park III, through unprecedented access to the creative process behind the films. Fans will also find a fascinating look at the wider world of the saga, including video games, toys, comics, and more, exploring the lasting legacy of the movies and their influence on pop culture.
But after all this time, is this new book truly the “ultimate visual history”? Unfortunately, it’s not; but it is a good attempt with some beautiful new images and information thanks to the “key creatives” from the film’s production.
The book is visually pleasing, featuring Jurassic-inspired borders around the pages, filling them up with as much colorful artwork and photographs as they can. The text is neatly placed within it all, and nothing ever feels too crammed or out of place.
EXCLUSIVE INTROS/OUTROS FROM THE ORIGINAL TRIO
Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum each get their very own pages in the book to speak about the franchise from their own words. This is a nice personal touch to the book that fans will love. For example, Laura Dern recounts:
My favorite memory is going to the Amblin offices to watch Jurassic Park for the first time. We were in this small screening room, and it was just me, Steven, Jeff, and Sam. Steven’s assistant very kindly brought us popcorn, the lights went down, and we watched our movie. It’s a beautiful thing to see a movie with your filmmaker. […] You really feel the beauty of the collaboration, and there is nothing like it. And, in that moment, we realized Steven had made a world none of us had ever seen before—not even in our wildest dreams. The four of us were screaming and crying. It’s one of the great memories of my life, and to be able to share in the magic he created was really incredible.
As hoped for, there are some never-before-seen illustrations, and some that are seen in better quality than in the past. Across the board, ‘Jurassic Park”s Art Director John Bell fills this book with amazing artwork for all 3 films (most were recently seen in advance on his website). One of the new illustrations is of Dennis Nedry in his Jeep, driving during the storm toward the East Dock, thwarted by crashed machinery that blocks his path.
Storyboard Artist David Lowery also provides several new storyboards from all 3 films, including little Benjamin’s point of view in his San Diego house when the T-Rex arrives (complete with an E.T. toy reference that didn’t make it into the film, but later would in ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’).
While many stories do get recounted to drive a narrative for the book, there are plenty of bits of new information thanks to new interviews.
For ‘Jurassic Park’, several details are revealed: Spielberg’s infatuation with dinosaurs as a kid thanks to museum exhibits, lowering the budget was the reason the baby Triceratops scene was ultimately cut, John Williams expresses his delight writing the music for the Raptors, and even Spielberg’s take on there suddenly being a drop in the T-rex paddock: “There’s a T. rex [there]! [The audience isn’t] gonna notice anything else but that!“. There is also mention of how Ian Malcolm was almost cut from the film, more than once, until Jeff Goldblum auditioned for the role:
Reading lines from the novel, Goldblum, known for playing a brilliant yet troubled scientist in The Fly (1986), immediately captured Malcolm’s essence. “I watched the tape with Steven and we just went, ‘Yes!’” says Hirshenson. Jim Carrey, a few years away from his breakthrough role in 1994’s The Mask, also tried out for the part and made a strong impression. But Hirshenson instinctively knew Goldblum was perfect for Malcolm: “He just has a persona and speech pattern like nobody else . . . such a wonderful oddball!” Goldblum’s take on Malcolm was so compelling that it convinced Spielberg to keep the character. Recalls Koepp: “Steven said, ‘I know why you want to cut him. But Jeff Goldblum came in and was just reading from the book, and he was so good.’” With the actor’s distinct vocal patterns in mind, the character finally clicked for Koepp, and he wrote Malcolm back into the script: “Once I started picturing Jeff, it was easy. He’s such a distinctive actor. He was perfect for the part.”
For ‘The Lost World’, Spielberg reveals how he originally was going to do a third film where dinosaurs got off the island until he realized he likely wouldn’t do another one, which was a big reason why the climax of ‘The Lost World’ changed to San Diego’s T-Rex rampage. There is also a brief mention of why Kelly became Malcolm’s daughter instead of a student, like she was in the novel: to mirror the protection of the T-Rex’s offspring with that of Malcolm’s. But perhaps the most interesting new detail is that screenwriter David Koepp directed some second unit footage for the film, which shaped how one sequence played out due to a circumstance:
After Spielberg and the main crew returned to LA, David Koepp stayed in Kaua‘i to direct the second unit, principally shooting an early sequence where a chartered boat ferries Malcolm, Van Owen, and Carr to the island. “It was supposed to be a sequence of them landing the boat,” says Koepp. “People and equipment pour off the boat, and they have this conversation on the beach.” But on the day of the shoot, the tide changed and the boat they were filming on got stuck on a sandbar. Panicked, Koepp called Spielberg. “I remember Steven was on a plane, and I was talking to him, saying, ‘We’re stuck on a sandbar. I can’t do the landing.’ And he said, ‘Oh . . . what are you gonna do?’” On the spot, Koepp reshaped the scene so that the captain of the ship refuses to go further upriver, spooked by stories of fishermen disappearing near the island: “I kind of rewrote it on the boat as we were all sitting there.”
‘JURASSIC PARK 3′
As mentioned, ‘Jurassic Park 3’ never had a behind-the-scenes book before; so that automatically gives this book a major bonus point. While some stories and quotes are lifted directly from other sources over the years (more on that later), to finally have a compilation of the film’s history is praise alone. Unlike the old DVD bonus features, the book takes a more honest look at the film’s troubled history involving its script. In fact, David Lowery recounts how there was even a contest involved with coming up with the film’s opening sequence:
“They had a contest: Who could come up with the best opening? We all pitched some version. Nobody won the contest, which was kind of a bummer.”
The compilation of information is joined by a myriad of artwork, both new and old, which is all incredible to see finally cobbled together.
FOCUS ON SCRIPTS
While touched upon in the prior books made for ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘The Lost World’, this time there is a greater focus on the scriptwriting process of the film. David Koepp usually chimes in with commentary on his drafts, making the process that much more interesting to delve into. Several different drafts, in different stages, get summarized in this book for all three films, although there is one omission that is a bit puzzling (more on that later, as well).
One of the biggest standouts for the book are its various inserts, which is a staple of Insight Editions books. There are some replica prop designs throughout that are fun (but with some issues, that you will see below), beautiful character design illustrations for ‘The Lost World’, various selections of never-before-seen storyboards, a blueprint, and a lot more.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD?
The inserts are often held with an adhesive that will unfortunately leave a permanent stain on some items, whether they are removed or not.
Unfortunately, this book has inaccuracies. Some leeway must be given with the nearly 3 decades since the original film came out, for example, but there are some errors that easily would have been spotted by a fan if seen in advance. For example, it is mentioned that “Hasbro brought its relationship with Jurassic Park to an end in 2005“, which is not accurate at all. ‘Jurassic Park’ toys from the company continued in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Let alone 2015, when it took on the toys for ‘Jurassic World’ (though to be fair, one could say that is no longer ‘Jurassic Park’). Another flub is that the Stegosaurus animatronic in ‘The Lost World’ is completely out of the film when it can be seen, for multiple shots, in a cage during Sarah and Nick’s sneaking into the Hunter Camp. While it is easy for a writer unfamiliar to the franchise to make these kinds of mistakes, even with research, perhaps it should have been looked at further by people who could have averted this kind of misinformation.
While editing a book always involves “cutting the fat” out of its diet, I feel like some things should have been adapted that weren’t. For example, the biggest portion of new artwork comes mostly from John Bell and David Lowery: something NO ONE is complaining about seeing! But a countless number of artists worked on all three films, and it would have been nice to see more variety from some of the lesser-presented talent. There are also some surprising artwork omissions compared to the original books, such as no art at all for the omitted river sequence of ‘Jurassic Park’. Having key sequences like that from the film’s history not even present this time, when it was before, takes the word “ultimate” out of the equation. So don’t you dare throw away your old copies of the “Making Of” books!
This may feel personal, but I am also surprised that the widely documented (and even performed) script arranged by Rick Carter, ‘Jurassic Park”s Production Designer, which featured many storyboards as seen here, was not even brought up. While it may have been obscure or not even referenced in their files, it would have easily shown up online at the time the book was being worked on. Which brings us to…
YOU HAVE THE INTERNET… USE IT
While there is definitely new information in this book, due to whatever access they did have with people and places, it still doesn’t feel like they took full advantage of all opportunities at their disposal. Fan sites that have been around for years could have been courted with the wealth of additional materials they have procured if it wasn’t immediately available to them (many with images in high definition). It has also been known that special collections house materials from the films that could have been accessed for this book. An internet search would have likely picked up on these details easily.
Jurassic Outpost is quoted in this book numerous times for our Shelly Johnson interview, for example. It is clear they were aware of at least some parts of our site… yet we were never contacted. Had we been, and if they had seen our additional articles and interviews, they could have been greatly assisted. While we appreciate being referenced in the book, we were not fully utilized… and to their disadvantage.
The cover features a beautiful illustration by David J. Negrón that was made for the film during pre-production, featuring Grant and the kids being chased by the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a striking image, and easy to see why it was used for the cover. Unfortunately, there is something very WRONG with it. The faces and even the bodies of the three humans have been photoshopped to resemble their film counterparts.
The REAL illustration features how the characters were conceived based on scripts at the time, and gave Grant the likeness of Harrison Ford due to a request that Spielberg made… which is even mentioned in this book:
Spielberg had considered [Harrison] Ford, his Indiana Jones, for the role of Grant. “I had a concept painting made featuring Grant with Timmy and Lex running toward camera, the T. rex in hot pursuit,” he says. Mulling over the possibility of casting his longtime leading man, he asked the artist to paint in Ford’s face and sent it to the actor with a copy of the script. “I know he read the script and he saw the picture,” recalls Spielberg. “And he just said . . . at this point in his life and career, this wasn’t his cup of tea.”
Now, from a marketing perspective it makes sense to perhaps touch up the image to make the characters resemble as they do in the film to better sell their product. However, the big problem here is that the same illustration is featured later in the book… in the same photoshopped form. Worst of all, it credits David J. Negrón only, and has no mention of the alterations or who did them. While it is POSSIBLE David had been contacted to do it himself, this seems rather unlikely. What we have here then is a case of art being misrepresented, and it’s a big issue. It’s like painting a smile on the Mona Lisa.
Also, why not just use another image for the cover that didn’t require any photoshop at all?
IT’S JUST NOT “ULTIMATE”
When it comes down to it, it’s hard to call this book “The Ultimate Visual History” when it isn’t. Is it a beautiful book, loaded with wonderful imagery and with plenty of details and goodies? Yes, it certainly is. Will many fans love it? Definitely. But the criticisms must be pointed out, because if they are not, these kinds of things will just keep happening. Inaccuracies can become facts, omissions can become lost to time, and not taking advantage of materials easily at your disposal is a detriment to the fans for a product like this. This book is good, but it isn’t great; which is truly unfortunate. It comes with a mild recommendation, if you can afford it at its current price point.
If anyone involved with this book sees this article, please don’t take it personally. We are passionate fans who are just passionate about these kinds of products. The Insight Editions Back To The Future book had a revised version; perhaps the same can be done for ‘Jurassic Park’? I hope it happens so these issues can be resolved, at least to some degree.
While we did NOT quite endorse this book, what do you think? If you agree, comment below. If not, don’t bother. Only joking!
Available now from their website, you can adorn your home with 3 different dinosaur figures from Jurassic Park. Each detailed figure is approx. 7 inches tall and is removeable from a base inspired by a key scene featuring the dinosaur.
First, we have a Dilophosaurus! Frill up, mouth open, ready to spit at our favorite saboteur! Her base is sculpted to resemble the watery, muddy hill that Dennis Nedry crashes onto. While we don’t see the Barbasol can anywhere, the Dilophosaurus clearly makes a beautiful but deadly addition to your collection!
Next, we have a pair of Velociraptors! They are rummaging through a base that resembles the kitchen Tim and Lex were hiding in: complete with a table, pots, pans, and spoons! This terrifying sequence is now finally brought to miniature life! Maybe you’ll include it in your kitchen?
Last, but certainly not least, we have the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex! Standing in a Visitor Center rotunda base, she is roaring in her classic, victorious pose! The “When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth” banner is shown falling in front of her during this dramatic scene. The sculpt of the Rex is so detailed that they even included the freshly-produced wounds near her neck, made by the Velociraptors! While Dr. Grant may not have endorsed the park after this scene, we certainly endorse this figure!
As you can see in the image from the Noble Collection catalog above (thanks to jurassic_version4.4), they even look great left in their packaging! Each of these wonderful figures are $35, plus shipping (however they do offer free U.S. domestic shipping if you get all 3, currently!). At the time of this article, they have a shipping estimate of March 2022. I’ve got my credit card standing by in Choteau!
The Noble Collection has long been a maker of quality products based on some of our favorite franchises like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and even Jumanji. They previously produced a unique Jurassic Park Chess Set (showcased by us below), and we hope they continue to create more products for eager fans like us! Now, we just hope there’ll be a coupon day, or something…
We love these figures, but why would we care what WE think? We want to know what YOU think! Let us know in the comments below!
The first full trailer for SEASON FOUR of Jurassic WorldCamp Cretaceous is here! The new season will feature guest stars Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Haley Joel Osment and run for 11 all-new episodes, exclusively on Netflix December 3. In case you missed it, watch below:
The trailer begins similarly to previous Camp Cretaceous trailers in that we see the campers seemingly escaping to freedom on a commandeered boat. It’s not long, however, before they are attacked by Jurassic World’s escaped Mosasaurus. Their boat is torn to pieces and they wash up on what, according to show-runner Scott Kreamer, is “an island previously unseen in the Jurassic canon.” The campers discover the sort of technology hinted at in the first teaser for season four: some sort of hyper-realistic portrayal of different biomes such as a desert and a possible snowy environment. The campers are also shown in a dense forest environment encountering a T. rex and too many drones to count.
Large vehicles and the anticipated ‘robot dog’ are seen moving across a snowy environment, but then breaking through the wall of the aforementioned projection technology. In a truly wild turn, the campers encounter a sabertooth tiger, of all things, in a dark desert environment. As things get hectic in this trailer, we see Kenji in peril in the desert, the Kentrosaurus in the snowy environment, the ‘robot dog’ sinking to its possible demise, Darius sprinting through the jungle, and the Kentrosaurus facing off with a T. rex. An “Escape Is Only The Beginning” tagline plays out over these chaotic moments.
The climax of the trailer features one thing fans have been waiting for: the return of the Spinosaurus. The campers come face to face with the beast in the new island’s desert environment as Brooklynn quips, “That’s new…”, before it roars and charges after them. The Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous title card flashes for a moment before a fun stinger scene at the end. The campers are seen hiding in a jungle environment with a mysterious facility in front of them. Sammy declares that “Something tells her they shouldn’t go in there,” to which Kenji responds, “…which means we’re obviously going in there.” Brooklynn gestures them all forward with a “Come on!”, and the trailer ends.
There is a lot to unpack and digest here: Brand new environments, sabertooth tigers, drones, robot dogs, and the fearsome Spinosaurus. Interestingly enough, show-runner Scott Kreamer has hinted that “…there’s a good chance that it might be the exact same Spinosaurus,” which raises even more questions. Kreamer revealed many insights about this new trailer and the upcoming season in a new interview & trailer breakdown with Entertainment Weekly, which you can read here.
Be sure to watch our trailer breakdown video where we analyse it shot-by-shot!
It’s been over 3 years since the original Jurassic World Evolution released on consoles and PC, and the anticipated sequel delivers on the promise of Fallen Kingdom: we’re not on an island anymore (except when we are, but more on that later).
Jurassic World Evolution 2 offers some new updates to the established gameplay from the first title, but will also be immediately familiar to players of the first – perhaps too familiar at times. However, for those unfamiliar with Evolution, it is a park building and management game where you’re tasked with creating your very own Jurassic worlds.
The core gameplay loop in Jurassic World Evolution 2 is all about building park attractions with key operation and exhibition facilities, seeing to guest and animal comfort, all while making sure you remain profitable and don’t run out of money. As you may expect, things don’t always go to plan, and chaos will come into play – from natural disasters like tornadoes and blizzards, dinosaurs growing distressed by their health and needs, and occasionally, dinosaurs breaking free and eating your guests (which is a very quick way to run out of funds).
You can help avoid unhappy dinosaurs trying to escape by making sure you’ve crafted an enclosure meeting their environmental needs, such as making sure you’ve grown the correct prehistoric flora for herbivores to feed upon, have enough water, open space, and other factors such as making sure species cohabitating a particular enclosure actually like one another.
If your dinosaurs break free you’ll need to send in ranger teams to round up the ramping threats before they cause too much mayhem, so it’s important to have them placed close by. While this may be easy in the early stages of your park, it becomes more of a challenge as your park grows and is something that will greatly affect your ability to mitigate the collapse of your park – especially as some maps are quite restrictive in size (but fret not, others are quite large).
Likewise, you’ll want to make sure you’ve researched the best facilities to contain and care for your dinos – such as the new medical center for taking care of sick and injured dinosaurs. As sick dinosaurs can die or spread illness, you’ll want to make sure your mobile veterinary teams can access the species as quickly as possible.
Research is integral to keeping your park well managed and profitable, and will also provide you the means to train your scientists whomst are integral to the core game mechanics. Scientists are hired staff required to be assigned to all management tasks such as aforementioned research, expeditions for fossils and dinosaurs, DNA synthesis, and egg incubation.
Each scientist has three skill categories with associated levels: logistics, genetics, and welfare. The various management tasks, such as sending out a team to look for fossils, have required skills in the category or categories, therefore making sure your various staff are properly leveraged for the tasks ahead is crucial. Likewise, each scientist has a specific perk. Some simply have a higher stamina rate, meaning you can assign them more tasks in a row without them needing a break from overworking, while others may allow for things such as 50% cheaper DNA synthesis or 30% faster egg incubation. You’ll have to make hard choices to make sure you’re saving as much money and time as possible while having enough skill points for the tasks your park requires, and this staff system brings a lot of strategy into the game.
As I mentioned before, the staff can get overworked and require rest. If you’re not careful, the scientists may become disgruntled, causing setbacks in your park such as sabotage. These new functionalities make the gameplay more dynamic as you expand your park, requiring more strategy in your choices as opposed to only arbitrary wait times while tasks complete.
The way you edit the environment is far more dynamic than the first game. For example, herbivores no longer have feeders and rather require the proper plant life to support their diets. While some may feed off of ground fiber and nuts, others will feed off tall leaves. With limited space in each paddock for what you can grow, you need to be mindful about the species you place together so their dietary and general comfort needs (which include things like open space, the amount of rocks, and more) can sync up.
Then, of course, there are the park guests – the people you want to keep happy to fund your dino-park escapades. Their comfort in the park boils down to amenities such as food, shopping, and restrooms, the placement of emergency bunkers, transportation, and of course attractions. Your star attractions are the dinosaurs, and you want to make sure you have the other desired amenities in close proximity to them. Viewing galleries are a primary way for guests to see dinosaurs, and the placement of the galleries is key to make sure the guests actually have sight-lines on the various species. Guests also don’t like to travel too much by foot, so researching and placing structures such as hotels and monorail stations around your focal dino-hubs really helps maximize the success of your park.
Each level features different environmental locations with different sizes and shapes, sometimes including narrow choke points where building and movement will be restricted. Making smart use of that space to fit all the needed structures, pathways, and dinosaur paddocks is crucial. If you’re not careful, you can easily build yourself into a corner where the needed facilities cannot fit. This will affect profit, guest comfort, and your ability to properly care for the dinosaurs – this can become even worse if disaster strikes.
Another great feature is the ability to pause time and assess a situation while assigning tasks within the park or choosing building placements. When a park is large, a lot can happen at once, and this feature allows you to manage many occurrences simultaneously before resuming the action and letting your choices play out. Likewise, you can speed up time by 2 and 3 times, allowing for tasks to complete in a blink of an eye. Be careful though – if things start going wrong, every second counts.
While many of these elements existed in the first Jurassic World Evolution, there are many small quality of life adjustments across the board which make the gameplay more dynamic, and in theory, more fun.
Unlike the first game, Evolution 2 offers 4 different modes of play: Campaign, Chaos Theory, Challenge Mode, and Sandbox.
Campaign mode picks up after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, with dinosaurs now free in the mainland across various wilds in the US and elsewhere. The story picks up with Owen Grady and Claire Dearing now employed by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) working to help humans and dinosaurs successfully co-exist. The United States Government is concerned by the potential threat dinosaurs pose, and have set up many departments to help keep a close eye on the dinos. These include the DFW and another key player: the newly formed Dangerous Species Division (DSD) of the CIA. While the DFW and DSD cooperate together, there is some tension and distrust between the government agencies, particularly as the CIA isn’t the most forthcoming about their activities with dinosaurs outside of those the DFW directly assist with.
The single player mode marks the largest departure from Jurassic World Evolution and frankly even Evolution 2’s core gameplay mechanics. Rather than building parks, worrying about guest comfort, and profits, you’re simply tasked with tracking down nuisance dinosaurs and containing, observing, and relocating them – just as normal, non-prehistoric nuisance animals are often dealt with.
As such, the levels are divided into distinct playspaces within each map: the “buildable area” for creating and maintaining the DFW’s facilities and the “wild area”. The wild area consists of large expanses of wilderness where you cannot build but can take direct control of ranger teams to drive and fly across, tracking down dinosaurs, capturing them, and bringing them back to your containment facility that you build. Primarily you will build simple operation facilities such as paleo veterinary centers, paddocks, and observation platforms for the DFW to study the dinosaurs. Essentially, you want to make sure you have the right size paddock with the right terrain inside for the dinosaurs’ comfort, and once you’ve done that, you’ve got nothing else to worry about.
As such, you wont utilize most of the game’s core gameplay features and building options in the single player which, quite frankly, is a bizarre choice in a park building and management game. In fact, the the entire single player feels like a short, snappy narrative driven tutorial for a larger game that Frontier forgot to include. The story ends abruptly, only running a few hours, with a narrative that feels like it’s just setting up the first act. While the campaign of the first Jurassic World Evolution admittedly could drag, it was much larger and felt more content complete. The sequel’s main story can be beat faster than it takes to achieve a 5-star rating on some of the challenge mode locations.
It truly feels like rather than adjust the story to account for the fact that Jurassic World Dominion was delayed, they kept the initial set up and cut the rest of campaign that would intersect too closely with the upcoming film. The story makes mention of a third party and unknown location (seemingly alluding to BioSyn), and it seems like things are just getting ready to explore that thread when the credits role unceremoniously.
If you’re a player more interested in the narrative single player campaign be warned: campaign feels more like a small expansion to the first game rather than a standalone sequel experience. While the new environments are gorgeous, you won’t spend much time in them within the context of campaign. Some levels, such as Pennsylvania’s beautiful Appalachians, aren’t even featured in the various sandbox and challenge modes.
Chaos Theory mode feels like a secondary campaign, only smaller in story scope. It does offer some expanded narrative “what if” situations which are introduced with absolutely stunning intro cut-scenes narrated by Jeff Goldblum, reprising his role of Ian Malcolm (though he sometimes sounds less like Malcolm and goes into his weird and whimsical Goldblum voice). Each level is its own standalone story with simple premises attributed to the five films: build and open Jurassic Park successfully for the first film, Build and open Jurassic Park San Diego successfully for The Lost World, Create Jurassic World and successfully remain open with the Indominus Rex for the fourth movie. However, all of those quickly become repetitive gameplay with less narrative threads as your task is simply to achieve a 5-star rating with certain arbitrary chore-like challenges thrown at you along the way. This mode is hit and miss, particularly as it limits player freedom and can quickly become a little too chaotic if you make one wrong move. Personally, I found the San Diego level to be more engaging than the other two which just felt like they dragged on too long. I’m pretty sure I spent more time on Jurassic World’s Chaos Theory level than I did the main campaign – most of my star dinosaurs dying of old age before I cleared the level.
The issue in Chaos Theory mode is that it mostly assumes you understand the intricacies of park building and management. While it does introduce you to some basics, they’re not enough to realize the long road you have ahead to reach 5-stars. The mode may have felt like less of a chore had the main campaign done more introductory legwork work to introduce the player to the expanded core park management mechanics, but as it stands, the average player may find the experience overwhelming. Spending hours on a simple ‘what if’ scenario shouldn’t be a trial by fire to learn the games core mechanics – because if you make too many mistakes, you may be forced to start from scratch.
Jurassic Park 3 and Fallen Kingdom’s Chaos Theory modes shake up the formula, and while the other three levels may last too long, these two feel too short. Fallen Kingdom’s plot essentially boils down to returning to Nublar sans a volcanic threat, scanning a few dinosaurs, and then using the removal tool to destroy the pre-built park. It’s weird – and not fun.
Jurassic Park 3 stands out, as it seems to be an actual lore expansion set between the events of Jurassic Park 3 and Jurassic World rather than a “what if”, returning to Isla Sorna to capture dinosaurs and relocate them to Isla Nublar for Jurassic World. This level plays more like the single player where you capture wild dinosaurs and create basic paddocks for their comfort only. As such, it is short, but it is also a fun break with some curious lore implications.
Challenge mode is where the game really shines and seems to find better balance between pacing, mission structure, and player expression. It features entire suite of gameplay mechanics all with the goal of reaching a 5-star rating in various locations, while contending different challenge modifiers (for example, a level where dinosaurs are more prone to sickness). While this may sound similar to the Chaos Theory mode, you have more freedom and less arbitrary requirements, allowing you to build and respond to the various challenges in the way you personally wish. Likewise, this mode offers the full suite of ways to obtain dinosaurs for your park, including finding them within the map, sending expeditions to find fossils, and occasionally expeditions to capture wild dinosaurs transporting them directly to your park. It’s a shame the game’s more narrative-driven campaigns don’t embrace this wider sandbox of gameplay, as it offers a sense of freedom and diversity critically lacking in the campaign and Chaos Theory.
That said, much like the first Jurassic World Evolution, the game still lacks a sense of personal freedom to entirely craft a park as you wish with the many facilities and attractions you would come to expect from the films. While the Gyrosphere tour returns, as does a Jurassic Park and World themed vehicle tour, no new rides or dinosaur themed attractions are present – such as the river tour, Pachy arena, or T. rex kingdom. While some of these additions may seem arbitrary, the idea of this game very much revolves around building your own park – and when each park has the same limited suite of options, it quickly becomes repetitive.
This is an issue the first game suffered from, and by result, it often times felt boring when compared to other park management titles. While this game has some new additions, and thus can be more engaging, many of the changes feel more like lateral moves. This is especially because most of the buildings, features, and dinosaurs are straight out of the first game. In fact, some species featured in the first didn’t even make the cut for the sequel.
A fun albeit small addition is the ability to customize some buildings, choosing from a few presets like Jurassic Park or Jurassic World styled walls, entrances, and decorative displays – while also being allowed to customize portions of the colors and lights. While this doesn’t effect gameplay, it does give the player more forms of expression. Although most of it is hard to notice while properly playing the game in its birds eye view.
Some of the buildings you would expect to have alternative models and skins from various eras – such as the aviary or paddock fencing – sadly do not. And while you can choose skins for your vehicles, including the pre-order and deluxe addition bonuses, in sandbox mode you cannot freely choose any skin. If you want Jurassic World-themed ranger teams, you have to choose that building style for the ranger station, and vice versa for Jurassic Park, only allowing for the bonus skins to be freely swapped in. Curiously, the DFW vehicles from campaign seem to be absent.
The ability to genetically modify your dinosaur returns allows you to adjust things like their temperament, lifespan, and of course, how they look. Each species has a variety of skins – imagine them as basic color presets and patterns. You can apply a pattern to a skin to bring out more complexity, usually resulting more contrasting colors and striping. Sadly, like the first game, you cannot actually preview the skins to know what they create and there is no proper database for all the varieties of species designs in-game.
Some of the legacy dinosaur designs also appear as skins, and they also can result in model changes. These include the Tyrannosaurs with skins from all 3 Jurassic Park films, Parasaurolophus from the two sequels, Velociraptors from all three films, the Brachiosaurs from both Jurassic Park and JP3, Stegosaurs, Triceratops, and more. Some legacy species don’t have skin that directly calls out the film its from – such as Spinosaurus, Dilophosaurus or Pachycephalosaurs – yet they do have film accurate colors achievable by choosing the correct generic skin/pattern combos. Just good luck figuring that out on your first try.
While some dinosaurs are incredibly accurate and offer a fantastic look at their film counterparts, others are lacking or have issues. For instance, Jurassic Park 3 female raptors have great colors, yet sport the quills of the males. The Allosaurus retains its look from the first game, which predates Battle at Big Rock and does not reflect Fallen Kingdom either. This means it’s an entirely canon on-screen species with entirely fictional in-game design. The Pteranodons do not have their Lost World or JP3 skin/models, and sadly the Mamenchisaurus does not reflect its design from the The Lost World which was recently shown in better detail for the first time.
The aviaries are engaging and the flying reptiles can escape from them wreaking havoc on your park – however they don’t offer much in the terms of customization, theming, or shape. The species list is on the small side, but does include the Jurassic World Pteranodons and Dimorphodons. Sadly the Dimorphodons lack the fuzzy filaments called pycnofibres that they sport in the films.
The ability to build lagoons and breed marine reptiles also makes its debut, but these facilities have even fewer customizations and gameplay options.
Despite the various frustrating inaccuracies, when the game looks good, it looks fantastic. However, it’s not always firing on all cylinders in the art department or engine performance. While some levels look gorgeous, with the environments looking rich, realistic, and detailed, others have a decidedly dated and lower detailed look which effects visual readability. The same could be said for the dinosaurs. While some species are so detailed you can see each scale and bump in crisp detail up close, others look waxy with muddier textures. That said, as the game is often played at distance from the dinosaurs, the animation, lighting and environments are what really make or breaks the visual experience.
The game suffers from some noticeable draw distance pop-in, especially with shadows which just blip in and out of existence – which can be very distracting. Likewise, lighting effects turn off and on at various distances, and while that may not be obvious when hovering in one location, as you pan across your park it jumps out more and more. This is very obvious while in “capture mode” which turns off the hud and gives you more cinematic control over the camera.
I played the game on the Xbox Series X, one of the most powerful home consoles out there, and these issues were immediately obvious. While I didn’t play the game on the less powerful Xbox One or PS4, I imagine they’re even more notable. Which brings me to the other, more important point: performance.
When things really get going this game struggles, with huge frame hitches as you zoom in and out or pan over particularly complex areas. Again, I can only guess how it runs on the less powerful machines, but it feels like a certain layer of optimization and polish is missing – further illustrated by the numerous crashes I experienced while playing. Thankfully, autosave meant not much progress was lost, although I do recommend saving frequently.
The game also suffers from frequent bugs, and while most are minor and don’t impact the game some can lead to frustrating results. Sometimes dinosaurs can become stuck in place – they attempt to move, making flying or walking motions, but they go nowhere. This leads to them slowly dying from starvation and dehydration. At the very least, that can sometimes be fixed by tranquilizing the dinosaur and relocating them. However, it’s not always that easy in an aviary as you can’t exact direct control over the task. You have to let the AI do it by deploying a drone into the aviary, and guess what: the drone can become stuck. There is no easy fix for that – I found myself destroying aviary hatcheries and rebuilding them simply to allow for a new drone that hopefully doesn’t get stuck. Unfortunately this issue popped up frequently, enough to deter me from flying reptiles in the more difficult challenge modes if possible.
With so few changes from the first game, a shockingly short and simple campaign mode, and the various performance issues I can’t help but feel this game was rushed and surely could have benefited from a delay to release alongside Jurassic World Dominion – if not further out. I also have no doubt content was removed from the game due to the films delay – I suspect it will be released next June alongside the upcoming sequel – but this sadly contributes to what feels like an incomplete package.
Don’t get me wrong, the game can be fun, but much like the first it has the foundations of a decent park management simulation without the much needed finer level of control, freedom, and variety. The gameplay can be repetitive and oftentimes doesn’t feel rewarding. While the dinosaurs do have more behaviors this time, such as pack hunting, they’re essentially just pretty looking props to challenge you that you can’t really appreciate outside of sandbox mode – where you can turn off disasters, have unlimited cash, and can get up close taking your time without concern of park collapse. Even there, there’s not much to do with the dinos if you’re not interested in building environments and then using capture mode to grab cinematic footage of them. I just can’t help but feel there is some core gameplay element lacking here that would make it all more worth it.
While this game isn’t bad – it’s also not great. I suspect it will find its real home with modders and content creators, but the average player likely won’t entirely get what they’re looking for. Likewise, park management fans may find the gameplay more shallow than they’re used to. This was easier to forgive with the first Jurassic World Evolution, but it’s doubly frustrating with the sequel, which seems more interested in re-skinning the first game than offering a proper evolution and improvement. While I do believe Jurassic-fans will find something they enjoy in this game, if you don’t mind waiting a little, I recommend waiting for it to go on sale.