Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis Review

Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis (JPOG) allows you to realize John Hammond's dream of building a working dinosaur safari park.  The disasters that befell the park in the movies never happened as far as the game is concerned, and aside from some occasionally rampaging dinos the park works quite well as a tourist destination.

JPOG is primarily a theme park building and management sim, which is a genre seen on consoles almost as rarely as a dinosaur at your local zoo.  Perhaps to broaden the game's appeal to video gamers not used to park building, the game includes additional mission-based modes that will appeal to both types of animal lovers - those who like to shoot pictures of animals with a camera and those that just like to shoot them.

Park building is done in one of two modes.  You can make your way through a series of goal-based missions or play the Operation Genesis mode which leaves you free to build the park of your dreams.  Regardless of which mode you play, the main focus of the game is your main attraction: the dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs don't come for free.  You must start by sending teams of paleontologists into the field to search for fossils.  By sending them to certain areas you can increase their likelihood of finding the type of dinosaur you are interested in adding to your park.  However, finding fossils is a slow process and you don't always find what you're looking for.  Sometimes you don't even find anything.  As an alternate to waiting for the right fossil to turn up in a dig, the game has a fossil market where you can spend a large sum of money to get just the fossil you need.  At the beginning of the game you will be starting from scratch and will be happy with any bones that you find, but later on you'll spend more time in the market trying to track down that last elusive fossil or two.

Once you have a fossil you can do one of two things with it.  You can sell it to the market if you don't need it or you can send it to the labs to extract its DNA.  Each time you extract DNA from a fossil you get another chunk of the dinosaur species' complete DNA sequence.  Once the sequence reaches 50% you can start adding that dinosaur to your park.  You'll want to get the sequence as close to 100% though, as anything less will create dinosaurs with a short lifespan.

It can take some time to find enough fossils to build a strand of DNA and you need to multiply this for each and every dinosaur that you want to add to the park.  While you can spend some of this time at the start by laying out the paths and security fences in your park, you can't spend the whole time building since you won't generate income until visitors arrive to see the dinosaurs and you need to research some of the structures and attractions.  Don't expect to instantly see herds of frolicking stegosaurs playing with brachiosaurs; this is not a game for the impatient.

Once you have the necessary DNA you can build a hatchery and start producing dinosaurs.  Dinosaurs are expensive, so you'll have to start with just a few and wait until you have a nice steady stream of income before making herds of them.  There is some management involved with your dinosaurs once they are hatched.  First you'll need to keep your herbivores away from your carnivores so that the latter don't eat your inventory.  You'll also need to keep the dinosaurs fed and hydrated, which you can do by adding lakes, trees, and automated feeders to their enclosure.  Dinosaurs sometimes get sick, too, so you'll need to research vaccines to keep them healthy or to inoculate them when they are sick.  When you reach the point at which you have large dinosaur herds you can spend a large part of your time responding to sick and ailing dinosaurs and dispatching ranger choppers to take of them.