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Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis Review
publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Blue Tongue Software
genre: Action Strategy
PII 400, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 650MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 10, 03 (released)
|» All About Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis on ActionTrip|
Considering the amount of money made by the Jurassic Park movie series and the fact that a substantial amount of the people who saw the movies is actually likely to buy the game with the same trademark, Vivendi Universal and Blue Tongue Software decided that making a game about a dinosaur theme park could prove rather lucrative. Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis is primarily a simulation with some elements of managerial strategy and action.
Looks pretty peaceful so far...
What a cozy little dwelling this is.
But the best thing is: it has absolutely nothing to do with the plot from any Jurassic Park movie. Thank God.
Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, instead of running away from a dinosaur infested island, is about building and maintaining a dinosaur theme park, with twelve action missions and a small encyclopedia on dinosaurs. You first select a tropical island on which you want to build your entertainment empire and set the various parameters like vegetation density, terrain configuration, humidity, etc. Once you selected your island, you will receive a certain amount of money with which to build up a successful theme park that attracts numerous visitors and make old John Hammond happy. This sounds simple enough, but the practice proved otherwise. Initially, you will only be able to clone a single breed of dinosaurs, while the rest, (25 all together) have to be created by cloning the DNA from their fossils. To do this, you will have to organize excavations on nine locations around the world. You will start with lesser sites, and bigger ones with more findings will only be available once you advance your park, and fill your bank-account. You'll have to wait a bit before cloning T-Rex...
Operation Genesis is a combination of simulation and strategy gaming, with high emphasis on building financial profits. In order to earn money, you not only have to clone dinosaurs... you must also build extra features in your theme park that would make the visitors spend more moolah. You will build various platforms for watching the pre-historic animals, create balloon and jeep tours around the park, place food kiosks, build toilets, and everything else that should be present in an amusement park like this. You shouldn't forget that your park also has to be kept clean. In this respect, Operation Genesis is quite close to the standard Tycoon games, but unfortunately it has to offer substantially less options than that series of games. Somehow the feeling of being in paradise with all those pre-historic creatures makes you think of them as cash-cows and nothing more (at first I felt real sorry if any of my dinosaurs died, but later I became indifferent as I already calculated how many of those I actually need and how to replace it). Still, the thought of researching new possibilities and aspects of your park, from entertaining features to medicine and security research make Operation Genesis look and feel a bit like a strategy. You will also have to take care that your excavation and research teams are constantly at work and keep coming up with something new in order to increase your park's offerings and, in turn, its profits.
(Kind of reminds me of the South Park episode with the Underpants Gnomes. Phase 1: Build Dinosaurs. Phase 2: ??? Phase 3: PROFIT! - Ed)
Dinosaurs have to be kept within high-voltage fences, and you have to make sure they have access to food and water. The visitors will rarely be satisfied only by seeing the animals, and they will expect some more dynamic activities. OK, so what you do is throw a couple of medium-sized herbivores into a bunch of starved carnivores and you get a massacre - which will be interesting to most of the audience, and nauseating to some. So what? They asked for it. Don't do this too often, though, as things like this can diminish your park's reputation. As in all games like this. the best way to run things is to carefully listen to what your customers and thinking and respond adequately.
The visitors seem content enough, just as long something doesn't bite 'em up the...
Time for a snooze you lizard!
Being the general manager, you will determine the prices and the assortment offered, which makes your managerial abilities of highest importance for success in this game. On the other hand, you will also need a lot of luck; the tropical islands are not only well known for their natural beauty, but also for their highly destructive typhoons... and when one of those goes through your park, you're toast. I went through that three times. And the natural disasters don't stop there. The game features a number of different infectious diseases which can also leave your park empty unless you respond timely and properly.
The additional twelve missions are mostly focused on action, and are quite linear. They come down to finding a designated species, killing carnivores, gathering runaway dinosaurs, and alike. They do increase the overall playing value, but get boring after the first time through - I had no desire to play them again after that.
As for the interface, it is basically OK, but in some cases you will have to click up to five times to get a certain thing done; especially when you are sending a team to the excavations. Both mouse and keyboard function well, but I sometimes noticed the mouse being too sensitive (even if you completely reduce mouse sensitivity) - if you happen to move the mouse too quickly, the screen will simply slide off... you can easily bring it back to where you want, it's just that this makes the whole thing seem unrefined...
The graphics are good, and they perfectly depict the lush tropic vegetation. The animal and human models look very good and are neatly animated. The only problem in that respect is that the models start looking worse once you zoom in thanks to the relatively small number of polygons per model. The environments are in full 3D and you can move the camera around as much as you wish. Still, the default camera position restricts horizontal visibility, so you will frequently have to lower the camera, at which point the vegetation gets in your way. This problem can get very frustrating when you are trying to see your park without having to constantly use the map. The developers obviously wanted you to use the bird's-eye perspective the most. The weather effects look very nice and substantially improve the atmosphere.
The sound effects are well done, and you will be able to hear the sounds of animals and people if you are close enough. The sound positioning is excellent and it will always be well synchronized with the camera. The music has been written by John Williams, and the well known Jurassic Park themes sound perfect with the game.
Finally, I have to admit that this game captured my attention... for about a day and a half. After that I already stared feeling the lack of options and the whole game comes down to trying to clone a vicious carnivore and praying the typhoons stay out of your park. If a typhoon does hit you after a couple of hours of play, you will most likely have to start all over again. The appealing and well animated graphics and the beautiful music are capable of capturing your attention... will it be for a couple of hours or a couple of months? That only depends on you.
Graphics and sound, animal animation, the information it has to offer about dinosaurs;
The interface an look too complicated, few structures, poor horizontal visibility with default camera, too demanding when played at more than 1024x768.
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