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Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Universal / Vivendi
Genre: Tycoon / Action
Players: 1
Similar To: Theme Park
Rating: Teen
Published: 05 : 07 : 03
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 5.5 = Average


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What's the first thing you would do when you successfully clone a dinosaur? If you answered that you would make an amusement park, then Universal has a game for you. That's exactly the premise behind this latest released based on the Jurassic Park franchise. Keep customers happy, rip them off, thrill them, save them, and even give them free stuffed dinos in the gift shop. Depending on what version purchased, you could be in for a surprisingly fun time, or trudging through an unpolished mess.

Gameplay: 6/10
One part Theme Park and one part Sniper Scope, Jurassic Park: Project Genesis looks make the tycoon genre more exciting by tossing in some dino-hunting fun. To help players who aren't very familiar with our prehistoric friends, Project Genesis includes a good amount of in-game information that shows everything from dinosaur sizes in relation to humans, to descriptions of illnesses that they may break out within the attractions in the park. Getting into the game itself is a breeze with a solid tutorial that covers most aspects, with the rest coming within the first run-through of starting a park from scratch. Aside from the main campaign, there are also mission that require driving around and taking pictures for both excitement and research - in a car that is damn near indestructible - and even killing the dinosaurs when a situation gets bad enough. There are a handful of these missions and they're nice supplement to the campaign that'll provide an additional few hours of gaming; by no means will they extend the game's life much longer than that, but they are enjoyable to go through at least once.

When it's time to really get serious and engage in the full park campaign, players will start off by having the chance to customize the island that their new park will reside on. Since there is no difficulty meter in the options, this can act as a substitute with gamers as they ease themselves from an easy setting - of plentiful planes and rivers - to a rougher one - a small island covered with mountains. Now, Jurassic Park wouldn't be much without the dinosaurs, but that will come in a bit. The basic amenities are needed first.

Parks can have food and souvenir stands, with each informing the player how much they are buying and selling items for - as well as giving options to do interesting little tidbits, like giving free goodies away as incentives - as well as rest areas, fountains, park ranger stations, security shelters, hot air balloon rides, safari rides, and more. Of course, there are also various ways to check out the dinosaurs. There are platforms of various heights for people to utilize to get a peek at the action, and the player can step within any of them and check out the view; there are standard platforms, elevated areas, and also underground domes, with each having adjustable pricing and focus of interest. Checking out the view that the consumers will see is more than just a nifty aspect of the game, it also checks to make sure that the platform will be used, because if the view area is just of trees, it won't get much attention; also, viewing stations also have themes to then, for instance, looking into a cage of carnivores would mean that the platform should be set to 'thrill' and this is done to entice the right kind of dino fan. Yep, there are dino fans that walk around the part. Some people want to see small herbivores playing around in water and nibbling on trees, while others want to see carnivores rip sheep to shreds in front of their eyes.

With everything built, it's time to stock the park with those lovely money-makers. Depending on how successful the player's park is, they will gain a star, and each star will open up a new evacuation site for a hired crew to dig. Starting off with a single crew, more can be purchased so that numerous sites can be excavated at the same time; each area has several sites of varying degrees of fossil quality, so it's important to get the crews going after the premium areas. After getting a fossil, it's off to the lab to extract their DNA. There needs to be 50% or more in the lab for a dinosaur to be cloned, but no fear, there's also a fossil market where players can acquire more items to send to the lab to quickly get a popular dinosaur out into the park. While waiting for DNA to be extracted, players can set their park researchers to look up new ways to please visitors - such entertainment ranges from balloon rides to basic necessities, like umbrellas to protect them during rainstorms. Other researchable topics include: upgrading security measures by enhancing security fences, acquiring cameras, upgrading ranger helicopters to fly through storm; speeding up research through new means of speeding up DNA extraction and dinosaur cloning; as well as general healthcare that will provide vaccines for the dinosaurs, and these are crucial because disease spreads among them very quickly.

While it's fun checking out a large carnivore rip up and swallows a cow or goat, it isn't so cool when they decide to do it to the general public. It's times like these that require a little sniping action. Taking to the air in the ranger chopper, players will get into a Sniper Scope-styled sequence where they need to take down rampaging dinosaurs. Depending on the version being played, this can either be an extremely fun, or an extremely annoying, sequence. PlayStation 2 owners are in for some aggravating times as the controls are extremely sketchy with the target skipping around, while Xbox owners are in for a far more smoother and enjoyable experience. This kind of fidgety control is found through the PS2 version, so players might be used to them at this point.

So, how does it all fare? Well, I enjoyed the Xbox version far more than its unpolished PS2 counterpart. Regardless of the version, there are still some things that I found incredibly frustrating. The player has access to all kinds of information, but the ones that aren't that fun to deal with are the ones that always seem to need attention, namely, financial reports. When something needs the player's attention, they receive email, so be prepared to get a ton of it. At times, 8 emails will come from nowhere, and often, unless deleted immediately once read, its tough to spot what's unread as the numbers look very similar onscreen; 1 looks like 4, and so on. Said financial reports are also constantly coming in and will fill up an inbox mighty quickly, as will reports of sickness as disease spreads through the un-inoculated dinosaurs way too quickly. In no time there will be a batch of emails going Sick, Sick, Sick, Sick and a few seconds later, Dead, Dead, Dead, followed by the investors sending reports and then continuously requesting that they be read. It's incredibly annoying, especially with the people needing responses have vocal announcements and will repeat themselves to get the player's attention - nevermind the fact that there's a comatose stegosaurs that needs to be revived before it dies. Being head of the park is a big responsibility, and even though there are people under the player handling things, they need to be a bit more intuitive.

Despite there being plenty of info, the right kind isn't always given; tasks like making a route for the safari to take will come up as not being appropriate, but with no reasoning as to why. There is also a tendency for money to vanish; up $6,000 one moment and down $2,000 the next, and if unprepared, the player could lose a ton of hard work due to some pretty unforgiving deadlines to get profits back up. Another annoyance was that automatic placement of platforms would often have the entrance within the dinosaurs' cage, and if not caught before committing the building to be built there, they would need to be torn down at a loss.

Graphics: 6/10
A choppy framerate persisted throughout the game. The birds-eye view of the park was decent, as was seeing the action up close, but the overall quality was just poor. Dinosaurs weren't defined well and the scenery was far from lush. Pretty much average with nothing about the system being taken advantage of and so much being left underdeveloped.

Sound: 5.5/10
Crackles, pops, and skips abound throughout the game. Whether the player is roaming about the island in a helicopter or trying to hear the roar of a dinosaur up close, there were quite a few technical flaws. With music resembling the somber parts in the movie whenever a player has a moment of silence while they watch a field of dinosaurs walk about, there isn't much toleration for it, or the assistances who increase in agitation when ignored and let the player know through sound bits, whenever the game sounds like a bowl of Rice Crispies. The environmental effects sound well, despite the technical downfalls, as does the park announcer whenever she announces a dinosaur addition to the park and a little bit of information about it.

Control: 6/10
Serious jitters persisted throughout my stint as president of Jurassic Park. While there are quite a few menus that need to be navigated, but it isn't too hard since there's a small onscreen guide showing what each button does. There were a few things I didn't like. I wish button allocation was better as the most used function wasn't in its traditional place, but more of a nuisance was that whenever an object was selected, the view would switch to close up and stay that way, even when it was de-selected and the previous view was from far above. Controlling the helicopter and Land Cruiser were pretty enjoyable with an arcade-y feel. A bigger problem, aside from the sluggish movement of the camera, is trying to snip with a cursor that skips around. The excuse of the player being in a helicopter could be used, but it wouldn't explain why the Xbox version didn't have the problem as bad as this one does.

Overall: 5.5/10
While I found the Xbox version to be a pleasant surprise, I found this version to be a mess. Even with the same gameplay elements, this version was just unpolished in all aspects and the fun to be had suffered as a result. More of a chore than a joy to play, everything just seems to move slower and look drabber. Jurassic Park: Project Genesis just wasn't much fun when all the technical problems had to be trudged through to find any enjoyment.

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