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Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for Windows
Jurassic Park: Project Genesis allows players to design and manage the most amazing dinosaur theme park the world has ever seen, or battle their way through 12 intense missions that will test their mettle against the awesome powers of nature and its most dominant creatures.
5 Reviews from Epinions.com
Mar 16, 2003
The Evolution of a Genre.
Pros: Excellent Graphics. Realistic Dinosaurs. Some real innovations to this genre.
Cons: Difficult control method, sadly lacking a quick movement option. Slow mouse movement.
The Bottom Line:
Jurassic Park - Operation Genesis, takes a tried and tested formula and introduces some wonderful new elements, along with great graphics and dinos, dinos, dinos!
As a small child I was infatuated with dinosaurs. Books, plastic toy dinos, you name it, I had it.
Years later, what self respecting 30 year old kid, could resist the chance to build and maintain their very own Jurassic Park, in Jurassic Park - Operation Genesis? (Don't ask me why it is called Project Genesis here)
Installation of the game went smoothly and there is a handy auto-start menu of graphics settings for you to tweak before you even start the game. Of course, being my usual exacting self, I set everything to as high as possible and was ready to go.
The front end of the game disconcerted me a little. It all looked far too much like a direct console port, with an extremely blocky animation of the park gates opening to grant you access as soon as you click any of the icons which start a game. Happily, once you are in the actual game, things improve drastically.
The opening menu gives you a bunch of options, including one to play "exercises", which are basically tutorials on different aspects of the game, ranging from basic control, to breeding of dinosaurs, to animal-control measures. Another option is the "Missions" format, which is actually extremely silly in my opinion. The first mission has you zooming around the park in a landcruiser, taking polaroids to satisfy the skeptics, while the second plunges you into a frantic race against the clock as you are forced to snipe rampaging carnivores from a hovering chopper. When it all boils down, the missions serve as a sort of extended tutorial for some of the more hands-on elements of the main game.
Of course, the real meat of Jurassic Park - Operation Genesis lies in the main, free-form game, which on first glance looks like nothing more than a 3d version of Zoo Tycoon - Dinosaur Digs, and to some extent it really is, however it is also something completely different.
The fully 3d game format initially had me fumbling around, in much the same manner as I did playing Black & White, with the main difficulty being the fact that your island (which is randomly generated and customisable) is rather large and confusing until you have built a few points of reference. The biggest weakness in the control method is the fact that you cannot zoom out anywhere near as much as you should be able to. This makes it difficult to quickly jump to different map areas and by the time you bring the map up and click to where you want to go, you probably could have scrolled there anyway.
The inability to rapidly move around the island initially was a major annoyance, as was the inexplicably slow mouse pointer movement, even with the sensitivity cranked all the way up. Once these, the only two major problems with the game, are overcome, a wonderful time awaits for dino-nuts of varying degrees and ages.
The basic framework of the game is your typical theme-park style of building exhibits, researching park improvements and looking after the place, but in JP:OG you have the added elements of DNA recovery and safety considerations to take care of.
The research system is pretty standard, with the player choosing new items to be studied, such as improvements for the park visitors to use (such as that marvel of modern technology, The Umbrella), vaccines to cure and prevent the range of dino diseases and ailments and better kinds of fencing to keep the nastier species away from the paying public.
Creating dinosaurs is a more complex procedure than you might think, with the start of each game providing only enough DNA shreds of a couple of minor species to create some genetically deficient specimens that will die in only a handful of months. In order to complete the gene sequences, you must finance fossil digs to uncover fossilized remains and amber from with to extract more accurate DNA and the ability to create authentic dinos that live for years and are therefore much cheaper to maintain in the park. The digs feature several famous fossil sites around the world, where you can find the left-overs of all the appropriate species. If you are getting really desperate, you can pay the exorbitant prices of the open market and buy just the fossil or amber you are looking for.
Dinosaurs of course, cannot be allowed to roam free, especially those who might make a tasty snack of your customers, so enclosures, complete with all the features required for optimum dino health and well-being must be built. The Island setting makes for an interesting change, for example it is possible to simply place a fence, bisecting a peninsula extending some distance into the ocean, saving you forking out for a huge enclosure, and keeping the terrible lizards happily penned away.
The dinosaurs themselves truly are a marvel. Each is drawn faithfully and behaves just as you might imagine. Duck-Bills honk mournfully and congregate in family groups in and around water, while a group of small, ostrich-like herbivores cavort wildly after each other on the open plains. Meanwhile, carnivores stake out their territory and defend it with deadly force. A wide variety of behaviour and is there to be seen in each and every creature.
Of course, the name of the game is to impress the public with amazing views of your dinosaurs, and this may be done by building a variety of viewing areas, ranging from simple elevated stairways, to huge overhead platforms and even balloon flights and range-rover safaris! You can even ride the balloon and safari yourself in first person and look around take photographs, which occasionally might be purchased by collectors!. It is also possible to view from all of your viewing locations so you can get an idea of just what the public can see. Perhaps, a lure just there to bring the dinos into that prime viewing place...
All the usual construction options for a theme park type game are here, including terrain modification and of course amenities for your customers, such as kiosks where the player can decide the (admittedly limited) menu and set the price. Keep your visitors safe and thrilled and the money will come pouring in.
Weather can play havoc with any park, but a huge storm, or even a twister can knock down fences and release the most dangerous predators that ever lived into the open. A well set up set of security precautions, such as the visitor shelter, dino repellers and guns turrets, can prevent disaster, or you can simply sound an evacuation alert and suffer the financial pain while your rangers zoom around your park tranquilising the dangerous dinos and getting everyone back into their enclosures. You can even ride in the helicopter and do the shooting yourself!
I think one of the big reasons I enjoy JP:OG so much, is that it isn't so cut and dried about what you can and cannot do. Other games would spam you with a message "YOU HAVE A DINOSAUR LOOSE IN YOUR PARK!!!", but two years after a particularly bad storm I discovered a small colony of Gallimimus, having evaded recapture had been living happy lives, free on a remote section of my island, far away from the park itself!
Graphically, the game is excellent, with only the playstation-like opening menu animations spoiling things. Dinosaurs, terrain and water look excellent from all of the myriad viewing angles, especially when zoomed right in, and neat touches, such as the reflection of your balloon tour as it passes over a lake and the brilliant animation of the dinosaurs themselves, meshes the whole thing together into a lovely whole.
Sound is similarly good, with the exception of the atrocious impersonations of Sam Neil, Laura Dern and the rest of the gang from the movie. Dinosaur sounds are varied and convincing and if you are wearing a headset, you will almost feel like you are walking through a thunder-storm when your park is lashed by the same.
Overall, Jurassic Park - Operation Genesis is an excellent tycoon/theme park game, which has taken the genre one-step further by introducing quality graphics and some neat (and useful) first person elements. Only some major control short-comings prevent this from reaching it's full heights. Should a patch rectify this issue, I will be returning to upgrade my rating.
(Played on a Pentium IV 1.9ghz, Geforce4 Ti 4400, 512DDR)
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