A simplified version of one of the best simulators has now been released on Microsofts brand new system as a launch title, Zoo Tycoon developed by Frontier Developments and published by Microsoft Studios, this more user friendly version of the animal babysitting sim is cuter, simpler and a lot prettier than the PC classic.
In Zoo Tycoon, you are bound with the task of creating a series of exhibits containing exotic animals mixed with shops and attractions to attract guests and gain a high Zoo rating within the campaign which is basically the same thing just with a number of scenarios and tasks. Its around 15 hours long to complete them all and when it’s all said and done, there’s the sandbox mode which unleashes your creativity as money is no hindrance which means you can create to your hearts content. You still have to research to gain new items but once done, you can place them instantly without having to save up first. I had tonnes of fun making my zoo but making it wasn’t the best part.
Zoo Tycoon has two view modes, create mode which is up high looking down, this viewpoint is more for creation hence the name and makes it easy to see what you have and where. Then there’s the third person viewpoint which places you in control of your character which you are required to design at the beginning. As your guy, you can walk around or drive around in the nicely designed buggy’s that can be summoned at any time; this is where you can take full advantage of what you’ve created by seeing it from the guest’s viewpoint. This viewpoint enables you to interact with your animals by feeding them or playing with them or just admiring them. Playing with and feeding animals can be done in two ways, using the controller or the Kinect sensor. The Kinect felt very gimmicky and not very responsive as you have to place your hand down then hold it outwards and open your fingers to feed the animals, easy right? No way! I had so many problems trying these controls out that I had to pick up my controller, it just didn’t work.
It’s the animals that steal the show visually, each one look outstandingly realistic and act accordingly, the cutest of which are the young ones. With the real looking animals, it’s hard not to choose to look at them and forget that you have things to do.
This remake of a classic simulator is not a bad one with a simpler interface, easy controls and a beautiful facelift. Zoo Tycoon may not be the next gen game of choice but it’s a wonderful change from killing zombies to looking after the best looking virtual pets ever seen on a video game. Not without fault though, the Kinect controls are hit and miss and the park and guest graphics are lacklustre and a story wouldn’t have hurt.
For the full review visit www.theleet.co.uk
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre business Simulation
Release Date: 22 November 2013
Story – 3/5
Graphics – 4/5
Gameplay – 3/5
Overall – 3/5