When I was young, I loved playing on my PC and playing simulation games. Games like Zoo Tycoon and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis was favourite back in the day. Unfortunately, throughout the recent years, I haven’t noticed any noticeable simulation games. The only standout games I can think of are Planet Coaster, Jurassic World: Evolution, and the Tropico series. However, the lovely people at Frontier Developments has provided me with a copy of their newest game, Planet Zoo. Planet Zoo is a construction and management simulation game and is a spiritual successor of Zoo Tycoon. But can this game succeed its predecessor, let’s find ou!
We Bought A Zoo
If you played a simulation game before, you will get the gist of what the game is like. But for those who are new to the game, allow me to explain it the best I can. You are assigned to build a world star zoo for the public. You must manage to make your zoo popular and beloved. There are many factors that play into that, such as customer happiness, zoo habitat, and animal happiness, cleanness, etc. There are four game modes you can play as which are Career, which acts as the single-player campaign.
Challenge, which, as the name suggests, provides you with challenges to overcome and achieve. Sandbox, which acts as the free play mode where you aren’t limited to a budget or the audience’s happiness. And finally, Franchise mode, which is my favourite mode, is pretty much like Sandbox, but you do have to research, earn money, create buildings, etc. The game does have a lot of mechanics to learn, but I do think this just packed enough where it doesn’t feel bloated, and I would consider it a good starting game to get into simulation type games.
In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle
The best thing about the game is the amount of creativity you can achieve in the game. For example, the amount of animals is absolutely crazy. From elephants to lions to Komodo dragons to poisonous frogs, there are many species to discover and create an exhibit for. In addition, before you ask, yes, you can release the animals onto the public. I’m honestly pretty impressed with how alive the animals feel with their realistic behaviour and animation.
But it’s not just the amount of animals that are impressive, the level of detail you can put into your zoo is great. For example, for a simple direction sign, you can change the colour of the sign, the font size, and style, change the post length, etc. That is just for one item; the amount of detail extends to the buildings, the animal attractions, the decorations, and much more. In addition, if you are connected online, you can visit other player zoos in the same sense as Farmville or Sim City. Go on YouTube and see what people like BestInSlot have made in the game, it’s amazing.
A Lavish Attraction
But none of this matter if the game doesn’t look good. Fortunately, thanks to the cartoonish yet detailed art style, the game looks great visually. I did notice a few texture popping issues, but they weren’t anything too big that distracted me. I also wish there were a variety of customization for the civilians in the zoo. Especially when you make your own avatar, I solely wish there were more options to choose from. Thankfully the U.I in the game is not distracting or cluttered. Probably the biggest flaw technically isn’t really the game’s fault is the optimization. You will need a pretty decent PC with a good CPU & GPU to run the game smoothly.
Now in terms of audio, the environmental sounds like the animals and crowd sound superb and really makes your zoo feel alive. However, the soundtrack isn’t really anything to ride home about. It serves its purpose, but I really can’t remember any tracks from my 8+ hours of playtime. I did also come across some audio mixing glitches, but after a simple reload, the bug disappears.
In the end, I had a blast playing through Planet Zoo. Sure there were a few hiccups once a while with some minor glitches and some features that I feel need improving. But the amount of creativity you can achieve, the fun and varied game modes, stunning visuals and appeal, and more. It’s so hard to let these minor flaws affect my experience. If you’re looking to get into these types of simulation/management games, then Planet Zoo is the best way to start. And if someone who loves these types of games like Zoo Tycoon and Tropico like I do. Then I promise you will have a great time!
You can buy the game for $69.99 on Steam or through the official game site here.
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For more reviews and opinions on Planet Zoo, check out Open Critic here.
- THE GOOD
- Immersive Experience
- Brilliant Animal Design & Animation
- Wonderful Visuals
- Endless Hours Of Creative Replay-ability
- Huge Amount Of Detail In Construction
- Shareable Zoo Online Function
- THE BAD
- Minor Glitches
- Forgettable Music
- Lack Of Customization For Avatar
- Need A Pretty Decent PC To Run Smoothly