14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2011
I love zoo games, and so I eagerly picked up this new zoo game for $20. I'm impressed with the graphics, but disappointed that the elephants don't stampede park visitors when placed outside the fences and cages. The reason for the -1 star is because the interface is counter-intuitive.
The first five campaigns are overwhelming, because there's a lot of menus and buttons to learn all at once. The animals, and plants, have specific climate and ground-type preferences like grass, soil, and savannah grass. More animals and plants become available as the attractiveness goes up, represented by a 5-star scale. You increase your star rating with more animals, and satisfying the needs of the park visitors. The visitors need restrooms, shopping and dining facilities, trash cans, and benches to rest. These can be upgraded as you gain more stars. You charge admission to the park, and for a majority of the facilities within the park. It's a challenge to charge just the right amount to balance profit and customer satisfaction.
Another challenge is that animals can become sick, and die if not taken care of properly. They will haunt and spook your park visitors as animal ghosts! Actually I'm just kidding about that last part.
Overall, I've had a lot of fun playing the campaigns because they have varied and interesting objectives within them. You might have to get a 5-star park rating, breed a certain animal, earn a certain amount of money, or keep customer satisfaction very high in order to meet the objective. You can also create your own zoo park apart from the campaigns!
For 20 bucks... definitely worth it!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2013
I don't generally post reviews based on initial impressions, especially reviews this of this length, but given the many bad reviews for this game, I felt compelled to post my first impressions after trying the demo, and ultimately deciding to purchase the game, despite the reviews.
For those that don't wish to read the details, my quick synopsis is that if you are looking for a simple "tycoon" type game, look elsewhere. If however you are looking for a game which offers elements of the "tycoon" genre with a very robust wildlife management component, this game might be for you. Read on for the details if you're interested.
Setup - 5/5:
Downloading the game from Amazon's service was as easy as clicking the link, running the amazon downloader app, selecting an alternate location, and waiting for the game setup files to download. Overall the speed was fast, as it only took about 25 minutes to download the 3GB files. Setup itself took about 5 minutes and I was able to select my own folder for installation without issue.
A quick note on a complaint many reviewers have mentioned:
The manual is accessible while you are installing the game. Simply run the setup file, click on the "Game Manual" link and a PDF copy of the manual will open, which you can then save to a more convenient location. The manual itself explains the various elements of the menu, maps, settings, and other pertinent in-game items. It's by no means comprehensive, but I found that it would have given me the introduction I needed in order to begin, had I read it before playing the game.
Interface and Controls - 3/5:
I separated this category because there were so many complaints about it, and honestly: I'm not too sure that it deserves the bad ratings. Yes the interface is clunky, especially when compared to some of the older zoo tycoon games, but given this game's depth over those other games, I think it's appropriate. As some others have already commented, even without reading the manual, you can hover your mouse over almost any element of the menu or buttons and a tool-tip will appear, giving basic information about its function. The time it takes a tool-tip to appear can also be modified in the options, which means tool-tips can appear instantly, if you so wish.
Additionally, the tutorial of the first campaign does a great job at establishing the basics of gathering information. Is there a shovel icon above the tree? Then left-clicking the tree will bring an information panel, with "thoughts" on what the tree is feeling (in my case, the ground was too hard). The information panel also provides a plethora of information on EVERYTHING, from the walkways, to the vending machines, to the plants, to the animals, and yes, even the ground. Without reading the manual, it took me only a few minutes to familiarize myself with the various buttons, and the tutorial campaigns helped immensely.
From that point, the information panels gave me most of what I needed in order to progress to more advanced tasks. I will admit, that they could have made icons appear more intuitive (for instance, the "more information" button), but again, hovering the mouse over a button I was unfamiliar with quickly solved that problem. Also, the game's method of highlighting a button is to make it "jump" slightly, which isn't always noticeable, but once I started looking for it, that too was not a problem.
If you've recently played any "top-down" games, such as real-time strategy, or "god" games, (e.g., SimCity), then the controls will seem very familiar. Left-click selects and right-click clears. Navigation is the standard edge-to-edge, and I was pleasantly surprised that they also included the standard a,w,s,d controls for moving around. You can navigate your park either from the traditional top-down, or you can zoom into first-person (mouse wheel) and actually walk around your own park! Rotation is handled by pressing down on the middle mouse wheel and moving the mouse around, which again is pretty standard for these types of games.
It should be noted that measurements, such as temperature and weight are displayed in metric. Unfortunately I was unable to find options to customize controls or localization, but measurement aside, the controls are standard, so I really don't see this as a major issue. Finally it should be noted that the first tutorial campaign covers all of this and more.
Gameplay - ?/5:
I don't feel it's really fair for me to review this aspect of the game at such an early point; however after playing the first few campaigns, I feel I have a grasp on the basics of the game. Campaigns by the way are what we would call scenarios in the states. The first scenario establishes you as an intern in a budding African preserve, where you will learn the basics of wildlife management. This scenario not only teaches you the basics of movement, but helps you to learn about the animals and plants (that second part is just as important), and also the available tools for your environment.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the tutorial sessions are narrated, meaning I don't have to read through the text if I don't feel like doing so. The voice acting was sufficient enough to keep me engaged in learning the about the different tools and options at my disposal. Scenarios 2-4 continue to progress the storyline, teaching you about staff management, profitability and eventually leading up to owning your own park and developing goals to run a park effectively. Again too early to call, but these first four campaigns provided enough information for me to understand the basics of the game.
Goals in the game are presented as tasks, and most task-related items are highlighted on the main screen with a subtle hue. In fact, this hue is so subtle that it took me a while to actually realize it existed! Because of this, tasks can seem frustrating at first, because a specific condition is not met. However, I found that carefully listening to the narrator resolves most of the issues.
I feel the scripting could have been a bit more relaxed, in that "close" is not going to satisfy a task in this game. In order to progress through certain areas, specific or complete success is a necessity. For instance, if your task is to provide the Gazelle with a place to scratch, then every Gazelle in the herd must be satisfied by this new object in order for you to progress to the next step. Considering the speed at which certain animals approach a new object, especially if they are skittish, the task take a while to complete. Fortunately, there is a fast forward button, up to x2 and x3 speed for such situations, if you feel so inclined.
Environment - 5/5:
THIS is why I considered the game to begin with. Previous tycoon games provided a "cartoonish" experience which, while it may have been great for my 5-year old niece, didn't really provide enough depth to keep me hooked. The environment in this game is amazing. They have an almost overwhelming choice of locations, and as the options open up, the number of animals and environments you can manage is equally impressive. The textures while exploring my parks in first-person were sharp and bright. So much so that I could walk up to a vending machine and actually read the brand of drink on the selection buttons!
The ambient sounds are amazing. The Zebras sound like Zebras, same with the Gazelle, Elephants, and every other creature I've placed in my parks to this point. The music is generally appropriate for the location and not overbearing or annoyingly repetitive. I also like the fact that this particular game has weather. I've not played it enough to know if weather has an actual effect on environment, so I won't comment on that aspect of the game, save to say that weather, while not particularly show-stopping, does look appropriate in this game. My park in sunshine generally felt much different from my park during a rain storm.
The animals themselves look amazing! The coats of fir are detailed and sharp, and the animals blink, snort, jump, run and even twitch an ear or tail from time-to-time. Unfortunately they do occasionally clip an object when interacting. For instance, a Gazelle interacting with a salt lick would sometimes mean its head went into the rock, but given the level of detail they've put into these animals, I'd say such things are forgivable. I also love the way the animals interact with new objects within their environment. Deer-type creatures may approach apprehensively and look about nervously, while a Panda will simply meander, sniff and either use or ignore the object, just like I'd expect a real animal to react!
I will say that while some animal interactions, such a baby animals with their mothers or the herd, are absolutely adorable, other interactions such as mating, while amazingly realistic, may not be exactly appropriate for children of a certain age. Examples like this and more however, is why I believe the environment alone makes this game worth trying.
Performance - ?/5
Considering the majority of the complaints tend to be when parks get really big and the number of visitors are greatly increased, I can't comment on overall performance. However, I will say that using the maximum in-game settings produces a smooth experience on my main rig (i7 3.2GHz, 8GM RAM, NVIDA GeForce 660, 1280 x 720 resolution). I also set the in-game antialiasing and anisotropic filtering to minimum and enhanced or overrode the in-game settings through the NVIDA control panel and it was even faster. I will say that while in-game my GPU meter jumped to roughly 60% usage on a small park, so even though it's an older game, it tends to require adequate hardware to run smoothly at the highest settings. The good news is that the game looks spectacular at this level of detail.
A few things to note:
This game is identical to Wildlife Park 3: setup, layout, even the manual (although arranged differently). The only difference seems to be the "Tycoon" title adapted for the US box, and the addition of Games for Windows Live, which I'm glad to report, is not a part of the game itself. In fact, the title screen is Wildlife Park 3, identical to the available English demo of this game.
The reviews are right, in that if you are looking for a more simplistic "zoo tycoon" model, there are other games that do a much better job. However playing through the various campaigns, I'm starting to realize that this game is just as much, if not more, about wildlife management. In fact, I actually learned quite a few things while having to balance the habitat for my animals, and I hope to pass this learning experience on to my kids when they play! If that sounds like something you'd like to experience as well, then I highly recommend this game.
on September 2, 2014
This game contains few features that Zoo Tycoon doesn't have, but adds in a lot of problems. As other reviews have noted, the user interface is clunky and unattractive. The game allows you to build off the grid, but I found this more annoying than beneficial. My enclosures and pathways always looked slanted, lopsided, uneven and otherwise messy. The pathway gets into the enclosure space seemingly at random and it is very difficult to remove. The clumsy bulldozer tool in the terrain panel deletes the entire square, enclosure fence and all. I also had a lot of problems laying track for jeep tours. The game constantly refused to put gates in various enclosure fences so that the trucks could get through; sometimes it put a gate half blocked by extra fence. Very glitchy.
I really wish that the developers had differentiated their game more from Zoo Tycoon. There are so many cool things they could have done. For instance, this game has you adopt animals from other zoos instead of buying them out of a catalog. This is a great idea, but it ended up looking and functioning exactly like a simple buy and place menu. If you bought an animal, an identical animal would replace it the next time you opened the menu. I would have liked to see them establish a network of zoos with certain animals and have you buy/sell/trade to these zoos in order to prevent inbreeding, get new animals and coordinate on conservation. Getting a panda for instance, should be a big deal. You shouldn't have access to infinite pandas and they shouldn't be easy to breed. I would like the animals to feel more like living creatures rather than park benches. Similarly, I liked that vet care was put into the game but they really did nothing with it. My animals never got sick, invitro was not an option, inbreeding didn't matter etc.
In terms of the animals, as other reviewers have stated the animals are animated nicely and I like that there are white/albino animals and black/spotted leopards etc, but there is a real lack of items to put in the exhibit and around the park. Furthermore, some of the animal's needs are bizarre and really annoying. For instance, I created an ultimate huge park will all the species in it. Up until the very last animal, my guests were complaining that I didn't have enough animals. After I finished the park however, my animals all started complaining that there were too many animals! Not in their exhibit, not around their exhibit, but it the park in general! How do they even know that? It really ruined my ultimate zoo. Furthermore, the animals all want to live in groups of a certain size. Fine. The problem is that this number doesn't change no matter how big or small the enclosure is. You can cram 4 elephants into a tiny pen and they don't care, but make their enclosure half the Savannah and they still won't accept a 5th elephant. Every time an animal gives birth (which is constantly, unlike what some other reviewers have said) you have to sell the babies to make the other animals content with their herd size. The penguins especially have babies every 3 seconds. Why bother having seasons if a single animal reproduces 10 times a season? You can sterilize the animals, but you make a lot of money by selling babies so it isn't practical. I don't like that donations are not a part of the game. Zoos shouldn't be making the majority of their money by breeding and selling exotic animals. I would have liked to see some conservation and research based grants as well as visitor donations.
I liked that the game requires you to take care of plants the same way you do animals. The plants were one of the strongest features different from other zoo games. Altogether though, Zoo Tycoon is a much more polished game.