Zoo Tycoon

Business and city building games are a marmite genre. No one has ever described it as a genre they “quite” like. You either think they’re boring as fuck or it’s like injecting heroin into the veins in your eyeballs. In this case however there are several different ways to measure a game like Zoo Tycoon, depending on who you are. Zoo Tycoon, you see, is a beginner level business simulator. If you hate sim games this might still be quite fun for you because you get to hang out with the animals a fair bit rather than being stuck in menus the whole time. If you’ve always wanted to try one but haven’t yet, this is an excellent introduction. If you’re ten years old, this is perfect as it’s quite forgiving and lets you mess about without any real penalty. For the ‘foaming at the mouth’ building sim fanatic… hmm… it’s a thinker.

So you’re creating a zoo. You’re very specifically creating a zoo on a console. This doesn’t look, feel or play like a PC building sim. Civilization Revolution really set the modern standard for the genre on consoles and Zoo Tycoon does a great job of keeping those intuitive controls and the ideal graphical style for viewing on a big TV from several feet away.

You need to balance your incoming funds with your animal exhibits, their health and well-being, environment and the zoo facilities, such as entertainment and food and bathrooms. You can build up a breeding program and release animals into the wild when they’re ready, to help combat the issues affecting endangered species. It’s relatively easy to keep these things balanced with a few challenges thrown your way to give you some direction, such as breeding certain animals and fulfilling guest requests. These side missions can get a little repetitive, which is a shame because there are so many possibilities here that have been missed.

While you can manage the zoo with a top down view you can also enter your zoo in third person, travel around in buggies, feed the beautifully designed and animated animals, play with them and generally get a good sense of what you’ve actually created. When building though the controls are too over simplified, so there are few shortcuts, with just one standard way to do things. If you adopt a new animal, who needs company, once adopted you’re thrown out of the menu and have to find your way back to adopt another of the same sub species. It’s a niggle but after the hundredth time it does start to annoy.

The dichotomy for the building simulation super fan is this: like with any decent sim, while playing Zoo Tycoon your house could burn down around you and you wouldn’t notice. Now that’s the litmus test for fans of the genre. As soon as I wrote those words just then loads of readers ran from their computer straight out the door in their onesies to buy this BUT and it’s a big, ‘all caps’ BUT… there are no pandas in this game. That’s not a joke. I’m not trying to give you a wee laugh at the end of this review, I am fucking incandescent with rage. There isn’t even koalas. There are 10 types of antelope, 13 types of bear and not a single fucking penguin. Okay so you need really appealing DLC with a game like this but you do not ship a Zoo building game without pandas… but there’s Red Pandas in it and they’re really cute… FUCK OFF, Red Pandas. I want a real panda, immediately if not sooner.







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