Jurassic Park is a pretty iconic book and movie franchise as well as a box office success. The story goes that a billionaire creates the story’s namesake, a theme park full of dinosaurs, from DNA extracted from a fossilised insect found in prehistoric amber.
Jurassic Park Builder brings that storyline into the modern day as a game that allows players to build their own theme park, turning extracted DNA into eggs, nurturing them to life and making sure to preserve their continuing life to offer a constant attraction to visitors. Think Zoo Tycoon with a prehistoric feel.
When first launching the app, you’ll need to login via Facebook, a practice that I can only condemn under a belief that the only app requiring you to login with Facebook should be Facebook. Fortunately, that’s perhaps hyperbole in the case of Jurassic Park Builder as you can simply play as a guest. Doing so will ask you to create a name for your park, crashing the game soon after, which certainly didn’t setup a positive start. Fortunately, relaunching the app got us straight into the working game.
John Hammond, the billionaire owner of the original Jurassic Park, welcomes you and you’re invited to get started. You’ll start learning the basics of how to manage your park and efficiently maintain the dinosaur’s wellbeing and safety to others through a series of missions. Eventually, a mission will request that you clear some grass that, just coincidentally, has a DNA-filled mosquito which can be used to kick off the development of your dinosaurs.
Much like any tycoon game, you start off fairly small and eventually expand into a thriving business. In Jurassic Park, this is done by clearing areas of the surrounding jungle and building new dinosaur habitats for either the species that you start with, or new ones that are developed through more discovered DNA. New dinosaurs are hatched from eggs that, like most freemium games, can be expedited through a dedicated currency in-game.
Early on, players are also introduced to the concept of needing to keep dinosaurs fed with either meat or crops. This food comes in via harbours close to Jurassic Park which, when kept active, provide a steady stream of food that can be manually fed to dinosaurs.
From there, you know the story. You keep the park running efficiently, upgrading and improving attractions as time goes on and maintaining a constant supply of money so you can do so. Jurassic Park Builder doesn’t do much differently other tycoon games, and emulates the freemium model of most mobile games (you can play the game completely free, but time-based advances can be sped up via in-app purchases).
Jurassic Park Builder doesn’t try to be, for lack of a better term, digitally authentic. It definitely tries to mimic the style and graphics of a zoo/animal-style game rather than go for a radically different style like a game such as Pocket Planes.
The game looks pretty good on the iPad and on the Retina Display. The user interface is intuitive although, especially at the start, can get bombarded by an onslaught of messages and notifications in getting your park setup initially. There’s a little more to work on than most tycoon-style games and the speed that this is all introduced can be a little confusing.
Jurassic Park Builder doesn’t feel just like a generic tycoon game with the Jurassic Park name as an endorsement alone. The basic premise of the game matches that of the Jurassic Park storyline and the characters you’ll meet throughout the game are apt portrayals of their roles in the story.
There is somewhat of a social app to Jurassic Park Builder too. Your Jurassic Park is only one of a number projects across the world, and you can actually jump into other projects by adding friends or asking the game to show you a random.
This feature might be nice if you have a group of friends particularly interested in Jurassic Park, but the social features don’t seem to be that necessary to the core gameplay which questions why they exist at all. I guess it’s okay for a bit of inspiration in constructing your park, but feels unnecessary.
Jurassic Park Builder makes for a pretty good game, albeit one that feels very much like a freemium game. If you don’t just want to play it in the background, it’ll cost you some significant, real-life cash in order to advance without having to sit and endure long waits for activity to happen.
However, the basic gameplay can be played for free and it’s packaged in a nice enough presentation. With a price tag of free, it’s difficult to fault the game outside of the limitations that we come to expect with this class of free-to-play games.