Planet Zoo developed by Frontier is now available on PC. Since the days of Zoo Tycoon people have wanted a successor to the old series, a modern take on the classic zoo management game. Frontier had obviously seen that and with the success of Planet Coaster giving everyone the theme park management fix they’ve wanted for years Planet Zoo was a no brainier.

Planet Zoo lets you run the zoo of your dreams and has modes that cater to everyone’s tastes. If you are a fan of a career mode with streamlined objectives then career mode is for you, you’re introduced to many different themed campaigns with tasks such as improving a zoo’s rating, getting guests in, and changing an old park into a brand new and popular zoo. This mode also offers an excellent set of tutorials to help teach you how to play in later modes and gives you the upper hand on completing the objectives. This mode also shows you the possibilities of future zoo’s you can create in other modes. I thought the campaign was well done, the tutorials are helpful and overall it’s an enjoyable experience. The other mode franchise mode is where I spent most of my time. You are given conservation credits, you earn these by completing objectives in your zoo such as breeding and releasing animals into the wild or selling them on the online trade market. The online trade market is how you get your credits and animals, you must browse other peoples animals that they are selling and make sure you get an animal suited to your needs so you’ll have to keep in mind it’s immunity rating, fertility, age and more. Sometimes you’ll end up with a good set of animals and sometimes not but I did enjoy raising all of my animals and then handing them over to another zoo’s so they can have a thriving franchise as-well. In franchise, you have to make money while also achieving good animal welfare, guests happiness and making sure your staff are happy. Animals need looking after perfectly otherwise guests become unhappy and even protesters show up which doesn’t look good on inspection days or to guests. Guests need keeping happy with new and fresh things to do, food and drink establishments and educational needs. If you can ace all of this you’ll be a success, I found myself at one point getting into major debt but luckily quickly turned it around when my zoo adopted Bengal Tigers, from then on my zoo was fairly successful. If you don’t like this mode online, you can partake in challenge mode which is the same thing but all offline and the trade market is just set up as the computer generating animals for you. The last mode is sandbox mode, sandbox mode offers unlimited creativity by giving you unlimited credits and money and the only limit is your creativity. I had quite a bit of fun checking out the more expensive animals and specialist in this mode and just going nuts with the tools the game offers like terrain modification, planting tree’s, plants and placing rocks down. It lets your imagination run wild and some of the creations in Steam workshop are unbelievable. Planet Zoo similar to Planet Coaster lets users enjoy creating and sharing content which is what I like as the Planet Zoo communities are often helping each other out and just enjoying what they have got in front of them. 

Planet Zoo is everything I had hoped for when it was announced I just knew that it would be my game of the year for 2019. Perhaps many thought I was over-hyping it but I’ve wanted this since the days of Zoo Tycoon 2. Each animal has unique personalities, you might get a hyperactive animal or one that is quite destructive. The animation and detail put into each animal show everything that they’d be doing in real zoo’s and it’s the realism that brings this game to life. Sadly this makes it ever so heartbreaking when you lose an animal to old age or disease. While there are bugs and some a little serious like crashes here and there and disconnects from franchise mode, Frontier has done a quality job in giving the people what they want. Graphically the game is beyond beautiful and you need a pretty beefy PC to run it on Ultra, but it feels so worth it in every way due to the art and design put into the game. To match the graphics the audio as-well from the guests, educational speakers and the animals themselves is just brilliant. I love listening to everything going on in the zoo expect the Indian Peafowls, at first it was cute, now they won’t stop calling, guys just chill.

Verdict

Planet Zoo is my game of the year for 2019, the highlights have to be the creativity, management and animals… So basically everything. This game is a feel-good game and even when it goes wrong like losing money or your zoo has to close down due to the debt, it pushes you to do better next time and expand on what you have learnt. Frontier has succeeded in creating an amazing zoo management title and I look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.

9/10

Pros

  • Animals behave as they do in real life
  • Management is really quite addictive
  • Tutorials are fairly easy to pick up
  • Creativity is limitless

Cons

  • Quite a few bugs
  • You will need a decent gaming PC to run it smoothly

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