App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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I recall purchasing Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for the PC several years ago on a whim. I was young, and possessed what I considered at the time to be disposable income. I knew I was taking a chance but I was willing to risk being stuck with a terrible game because the allure of creating my own Jurassic Park was too great. As it turns out, the game was awesome. Jurassic Park Builder is not Operation Genesis for mobile devices, but it is like playing a simplified freemium version of it. Which is all kinds of alright.
Building a personal Jurassic Park is fairly straightforward despite all the dinosaurs. Cash is earned over time from dino enclosures and other park buildings which can then be used to upgrade some structures or create new ones. The surrounding foliage can be cleared in sections for the purposes of expansion and will sometimes yield pieces of amber that can be studied to unlock new dinosaur species. They will, of course, require feeding, but food (greens or meat) is used as a means to level up a given dinosaur in order to earn more cash rather than a requirement to keep them alive.
The most immediately noticeable bit of awesome about Jurassic Park Builder is the visual presentation. Backgrounds are lush and colorful, while the dinos themselves are actually three-dimensional and animated quite well. They even look good when zoomed in as close as possible, which is something not many free-to-play sims can claim. It’s also nice to play a freemium title that doesn’t punish players for “moving ahead.” If a quest asks for park expansion, and said expansion already happened because the player doesn’t want to wait for the game to catch up, it still counts and the rewards are earned as soon as the quest is started. Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that progression is dictated more by experience than by cash, which makes the game feel much less restrictive and a lot more open.
I could do without the cheesy “cameos” from well-known characters, but that’s 100% a personal preference. What I think most players could do without is the horrific lag each time the game first starts up as it contacts Game Center. Waiting several seconds – possibly even a minute – until it’s all good to go sees everything running nice and smooth, but that initial period of chugging can be excruciating.
Jurassic Park Builder may not be a super deep simulation with tons of factors to micromanage, but it is a well-made freemium simulation that’s far less restrictive than many of its peers. Plus it’s dinosaurs. Dinosaurs, people.