Jurassic Park: Builder Review – Spare No Expense

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I’ve never understood Facebook games. They’ve always seemed more like sinkholes to either pour time or money into with little result. FarmVille, CityVille, pretty much any of those games that your friends are always bothering you to play with them seem entirely un-fun to me. But, let’s face it. They aren’t for me. Until now. Now there’s a Jurassic Park license involved. Now this game is for me.

Jurassic Park, as a film,  may be only two years younger than I am, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a linchpin in my childhood. Growing up, it was always one of my favorite films and still is to this day. One of the best things about Twinfinite, in fact, is how many of us are Jurassic Park enthusiasts. I think this says what I’m trying to say here quite well.

As such, when I found out that there was a Jurassic Park equivalent of FarmVille, I was conflicted. “Well, I have to play this whether I want to or not,” was a thought that earnestly came to my head. Messed up, I know.

I downloaded the app and was presented with a choice: implement the game through Facebook giving me the wonderful opportunity of bothering everyone I love in this world or to simply play as a guest. I picked the latter, making this social game a lonely, lonely timesuck. I’ll always have my dinosaurs to keep me company, though!

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If you’re unfamiliar with these types of games, I’ll give you a quick rundown. They primarily work like your ordinary city building games, but each action takes a much longer period of time. You can spend certain resources, which are generally slowly earned or bought with real-world money, to bypass or speed up that time. The more time (or money) you spend, the larger your creation becomes, allowing you to gain more currency and make it even larger. It’s a vicious cycle.

That cycle is in full swing in Jurassic Park: Builder. Most of the game is played in three to five minute chunks spaced out every hour or two you can during your day. Basically, you’ll launch the app, gather resources from your dinosaurs, spend those resources, and then wait an hour or two for the results to happen. Place a new dinosaur, wait two hours while the gate is built.

Unless you want to spend some money on fake to speed it up…

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that the game is made this way. There’s little to do but tap dinosaurs to gather resources and watch numbers go up, so it likely wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention for long stretches of time, anyway. The disappointing side effect of this is that many of your play sessions will end in a result that looks like this:

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Unless you want to spend real money on fake money to speed it up…

The thing that gets downright insidious is that all of your dinosaurs have a finite amount of time that they’ll generate currency. At this point you’ll either have to tap them to gather that currency, freeing up the dinosaur to generate more, or lose all of that potential skrilla. That’s not too bad of an idea, but your first dinosaur (the triumphant triceratops) would require you to tap it every five minutes. So, unless you’re willing to tap that triceratops every five minutes, you’ll always have resources going to waste.

If you want to make any progress in the game, you’ll have to spend nearly all of your money during every play session. Money is tight in Jurassic Park: Builder, which makes that triflin’ triceratops all the more egregious. It can be fairly frustrating waiting on the money you need to buy the next dinosaur.

Unless you want to spend real money on fake money to speed it up…

To guide you on your quest to build the best Jurassic Park you can are a variety of familiar faces. Hammond, Grant, and Malcolm are all here to give you quests, which serve as the game’s tutorial and allow you to gain enough experience to get to the larger dinosaurs and attractions. None of the quests are particularly enjoyable. I especially find the “move five dinosaurs quests hysterically because you don’t actually have to move them. Just click the move icon and hit confirm and you’ll still get credit. They do, however, provide some much needed guidance and further the sense of progression within the game.

As your park expands, you’ll unlock more and more mechanics such as Code Red, which calls a huge storm into your park causing your carnivores to go insane. Then you tap them before their cooldown timer raises all the way to get money. This is so thrilling that you’re limited to only doing it after several hours until the cooldown expires.

Unless you want to spend real money on fake money to speed it up…

You’ll also eventually get to build a separate, underwater park and let me just say it’s pretty rad. It’s essentially just a second park, but you get underwater dinosaurs, so I’m on board.

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At the end of the day, Jurassic Park: Builder is just another free-to-play excuse to try to get you to spend your money instead of your time. I’ve spent a few weeks with it at this point and, while I don’t fell like it has been wasted, it is a bit disappointing to know that players who are willing to spend real money will not only reach where I am much faster, but also have opportunities to get dinosaurs much quicker and, best as I can tell, exclusive dinosaurs. That’s not cool. However, I am going to continue playing Builder even after this review is published. I have to get that T-Rex, after all. It’s just a shame that it takes so long to build a park you can be proud of.

Unless you want to spend real money on fake money to speed it up…

[Final Breakdown]

[+Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs] [+Easily Playable in Small Spurts] [-Too Simple] [-Too Much Time Between Actions] [-Unless You Want to Spend Real Money on Fake Money to Speed It Up...]

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Tyler Humphrey is a bearded fan of all things video game, Tarantino films, comic books, and professional wrestling. Follow him on Twitter (@AlmostApollo) to keep up with his nonsense and misadventures.

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  • Anon E. Mus

    There’s the original Zoo tycoon, though. You could have an entire section of your park separated out just for dinosaurs. Not sure about newer versions of it, though.
    Just looked it up. ZT2 does, as well, if you buy an expansion pack. Or if you get the ultimate edition. Same with the first. But still… Dinosaurs, anyone?

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