Walk on the wild side.
Did you spend the precious hours, maybe even days, of your childhood summers lost in games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon? I know I did. There was nothing I loved more than building up the homes of animals, only to delete a gate when I got bored and unleash a load of lions on the unsuspecting public masses.
When Zoo Tycoon got it’s modern make-over back in 2013 for Xbox One and Xbox 360, I was excited to finally pair the management sim formula I loved so much with equally stunning 3D visuals. But something about the game just didn’t click with me like it used to, and I barely played it.
It was Frontier Developments that developed Zoo Tycoon for the Xbox, and now their back with a title all of their own, Planet Zoo. In Planet Zoo, you construct your zoo in much the same way as you create your theme park in Planet Coaster, laying the foundations of the park via interconnecting pavements and bridges. Depending on whether you’ve chosen sandbox mode or one of the many world challenges, you can decide where you place your attractions, exhibits and most importantly, bins. The difference here to Planet Coaster is, of course, the living animals. By far the best part, you can watch as they ‘think, feel and explore the world you create around them’.
From their Steam page, the focus for this game certainly seems to be on the welfare of the animals, above and beyond the business management side of things. Emphasising the conservation and research side of zoology, Planet Zoo doesn’t seem to be emphasising the ‘animals are entertainment’ point of view; a discourse that is now pretty unpopular, and rightly so. Although as you can see from the picture above, there is still plenty of visitors pointing at animals that live behind glass, so we’re sure making money is still going to be pretty important.
Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but this is a title that really does excite me, despite my fallout with Zoo Tycoon back in 2013. Spending time watching the animals live, grow and breed was always my favourite part of Zoo Tycoon, so a game where this element only takes more of the stage is good with me. Hopefully the increased focus on the animals will alleviate some of the boredom I sometimes felt with the old title. We shall see.
Kate has been gaming since she could control a mouse. In addition to having a penchant for indie games, Kate had a World of Warcraft account when she was far too young, and has a weakness for any game with ‘RPG’ in the description.