Operation Genesis succeeds because the management sim fits
perfectly into the world of Jurassic Park. The first movie
already gave the perfect setup: John Hammond and his INGEN crew used
DNA extracted from amber to breed dinosaurs and use them as the main
attraction to the greatest theme park ever created. Operation
Genesis just walks in, takes that idea, and places it in the
video game world, letting you extract the DNA, breed the dinosaurs,
build the park, and make sure all hell doesn’t break loose.
Of course, building and running the park isn’t as simple as it
sounds, though, as you will have to manage every facet of operation,
from choosing which dig sites to explore for fresh fossils, to
making sure your dinosaurs are up on all their vaccinations, along
with all the standard management sim stuff like building placement
and researching new technology. At first the multi-tasking can get a
bit daunting (making your park more appealing to thrill seekers
while adjusting the price of the food while building a new herbivore
enclosure while making sure security is tight around your T-Rex cage
while extracting DNA for a new species of dinosaur while deciding
what to research next while quarantining a sick Stegosaurus is a lot
to handle) but after the initial chaotic stage that all parks go
through, when the game settles down, everything runs smoothly;
almost too smoothly.
The problem with Operation Genesis is that once you get
everything up and running, nothing much happens. Building your park
from the ground up is a blast. Deciding the layout of the park and
building new structures is always fun; targeting specific dig sites
trying to locate choice fossil to extract and breed new species of
dinosaurs from is an interesting use of the Jurassic Park
concept; trying to strike a balance between pleasing thrill seekers
(who hunger for bloody carnivore action), dino nerds (who want
realism in their experience), and fun lovers (who just want to have
a good time) is a nice challenge that requires lots of
experimentation; managing your budget properly is difficult and
rewarding; making sure security is up to snuff is nerve-racking (at
first); of course breeding and caring for the dinosaurs themselves
is fun, but after your park opens and you’ve got everything you need
built, your participation in the game drops to a minimum. You’ll
find yourself with longer and longer stretches of time of just
sitting, with the controller on the ground beside you, watching
nothing happen. That’s just unforgivable. It's Jurassic Park
for crying aloud! It’s not bad that the park becomes almost
completely autonomous after a while, but there should be tons of
unpredictable things happening left and right. Even SimCity
has its floods and fires and Godzilla attacks! You practically have
to cause an accident yourself in order for something terrible to
happen in this Jurassic Park (even though its kind of more
fun that way).
It’s when the crap hits the fan, though, that the game really gets
exciting. You have to jump into the ranger chopper and do all the
wrangling, sedating, inoculating, and eliminating yourself, in a
mode that feels very reminiscent to the 16-bit Strike series
(Desert, Jungle, Urban, etc.). You can also go
behind the wheel of a jeep and drive around your park, taking
pictures as you go. Both these “mini-games” can be found in the
Missions mode, but are well integrated into the main game itself and
do a lot to make Operation Genesis feel like more than just a
RollerCoaster Tycoon clone.
Although the game does get a bit boring after your park is fully
built, I would have still given this game a strong recommendation.
It’s fun, it’s a damn good use of a license, it makes a very nice
sim, and it’s even pretty educational. The game does have some
technical problems that need addressing, particularly slow-down,
that knock it down a few points. The frame rate in the Xbox version
is highly irregular and goes into “slideshow mode” at random, and
although I haven’t played the Playstation 2 version, I can’t imagine
it being any better. This gets seriously annoying after a while and
definitely cuts into the playability of the game. If you aren’t the
kind of person that gets easily bothered by technical glitches,
however, and has no problem with starting a new park every time the
old one gets boring, you will have a lot of fun with this game. It’s
get enough to please sim fans, enough to please dino-lovers, and
more than enough to please fans of the franchise.
Good use of a movie license.
Best game of its kind on the consoles right now.
Could mark the turn-around of the Jurassic Park franchise.
Tons of slow-down.
Parks can get a bit boring after a while.
Not enough major disasters.
Any fan of Tycoon, Sim, or Theme games might
want to give this game a try. It is definitely the best you’ll find
on a console.