Should gamers run Zoos? Let’s leave it to Zoo Tycoon

Zoo Tycoon was one of the least successful launch titles on the Xbox One, but it would never really hold its weight against the other games; even if there were a limited number of them come 22nd November. The fact it’s taken me this long to write an article about a game I got over 5 months ago says the story really.

Zoo Tycoon isn’t a terrible game by any standards – in fact it makes a concerted effort to include the Kinect which few have done to a decent level so far. Ryse included a few voice commands that added a tiny bit to the game, but were easily bypassed by holding down a button anyway. With the recent release of Kinect Sports Rivals, the Kinect has become a bit more involved in the actual gaming side of the console. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my Kinect, using it religiously to record footage from my favourite kills of Zombies to a screamer of a finish on FIFA. Zoo Tycoon really grasped using the Kinect for facial and arm interaction in terms of interacting with some of the animals, such as playing against the glass with the Lions. Fighter Within also attempted some form of interaction with hands and feet for kicking but fell rather flat on its face.

Zoo Tycoon is a relaunch of the 2001 PC simulation game that spawned a series, upgrading its features for next gen as well as a continuation of first person view ability. For me, Zoo Tycoon was a game to play with others, as well as to kill a few hours whilst waiting for the bigger, better, heavyweight titles to decide that they were ready to release. Well, it didn’t really manage that for me. The game lacks hours of gameplay, and despite having different missions, it seems they rarely differ enough to matter and make it worthwhile. Even the loading of the game is mind numbing, taking way too long to load up with no real explanation of why. This is not the only pain-staking task that Zoo Tycoon asks of you with repeating tasks far too often in far too short a time. I often found myself running to complete one task, finishing that, going to another part to clean/take care of the animals, before being given another meaningless errand. There was not enough choice in the tasks – I was often told to either take something from Point A to B in a hilarious vehicle, releasing a Level 15 animal into the Wild, or playing/taking a photo of one of my enclosures. The levelling system for the animals seemed kind of pointless to me, in fact, I think it should have rather been called their age, as it made very little difference apart from when you were buying them in (more expensive).

The game sees you obviously taking charge of different zoos around the world in either Tycoon Mode or Free Roam, with both being pretty much the same except for the Free Roam including unlimited cash … which surprisingly I was rarely short of in Tycoon Mode anyway. The range of animals is decent, I believe topping 100, one of the few highlights in fact, with it being cool to have various different species in together as well as a good camera angle to inspect, look at as well as laugh at when they do silly things. The menus were overly tough to navigate, especially if you’d left the game for a period of time, with it becoming a bit of a burden to go through.

However, I must praise the look of the game – graphically it was superb and really pleasing to the eye – even if one of my elephants did become stuck and then unmovable and buggy. My niece enjoyed seeing the animals and thought they looked real – maybe I saved on a trip to the Zoo! As well as this, switching between the map and zooming to the destination was effortless and really quick – in fact this made me think Next Gen; seemless motion between points on maps, especially as I play Saints Row IV, where moving between destinations takes a bit longer thanks to the older processor.

Luckily I bought this game with a voucher I had for Argos, with nothing to spend it on. I can tell you with no doubt in my mind, that I wouldn’t pay £40 for this game. It just doesn’t have enough substance for an actual gamer, although I do admit that I am by no means the actual audience for this game.