Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/10/03 | Genre: Strategy
In the past, there have been several games based off the hit Jurassic Park films. And it's not too surprising either; the concept of running from huge prehistoric dinosaurs is one that translates well into a video game. The latest video game adaptation comes in the form of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis. The developers have melded the Zoo Tycoon gameplay with the ferocious beasts from the JP movies and the result is a well balanced game that can be quite addicting.
The game begins as the large company INGEN drops some money in your lap and a lush, tropical island and basically tells you to build Jurassic Park. So, where do you go from there? Well, you'll want to design your island and make sure that you have plenty of vegetation for the herbivores, but not so much that guests can't see any dinos when they tour the park. There are several factors that you can adjust on your island, so you'll want to try and find the right balance between fun and safety. Of course, cost is also a major factor. The brass at INGEN won't be very pleased with you if you're constantly in the red! Researching DNA, removing mountains, and building new structures all take up a considerable amount of cash, so you'll need to plan carefully and decide what you really need in order to attract guests and to protect them. Be warned, however, the dinosaurs aren't the only things that can harm park visitors; the weather in the tropics is prone to tornados and hurricanes alike. There's nothing quite like a raging El Nino to ruin your day.
From a visual standpoint, this game can hold its own. The graphics are far above what is typical for the genre. The dinosaurs look fantastic, and astonishingly authentic. They move realistically and are textured very well. Also, the tropical island is brought to life through the many beautiful plants and trees in the environment. Varying weather effects provide for a bit of variety as well. You often feel as though you're the visitor and you'd almost rather just sit and observe the dinos in their habitat than take care of the business end of things.
Aside from managing your park, you can partake in several small "missions." These often require you hopping into a jeep and getting up close and personal with some of your attractions. In one such mission, you're goal is to take photographs of the dinosaurs in their environment. These missions don't play an enormous part in the game, but they do add a little something, and provide the perfect, temporary escape from the rigors of park building.
Operation Genesis does have a few minor faults that must be pointed out. For one, you feel somewhat limited in what you can actually build in your park and offer to visitors in terms of services and facilities. Luckily, the variety of dinosaurs helps mask this problem and the ability to design your island from the beginning also offsets it a bit, but it is nonetheless evident. Also, the game's camera angles can be shoddy at times. These problems are minimal, however, and should not deter would-be buyers from purchasing the game.
When it's all said and done, Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis provides you with a great gaming experience that differs from your average simulation. Sure you still have to worry about finances and facilities, but the added element of danger makes the game more exciting than other titles in the genre. I mean come on, how many simulations are out there that let you watch park visitors get shredded by a T-Rex? The game's addicting nature and sharp visuals come together wonderfully and provide the player with a fairly unique simulation experience. Don't be afraid to shell out the cash for this one.