Planet Zoo is Frontier‘s latest construction and management simulation game, that allows you to take control of your own zoo franchise or help out others who may need the help dependent on the game mode you select.

Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Platforms: Steam
Release Date: 5 November 2019

The game modes are what you expect from any management sim, Career Mode, Challenge Mode and Sandbox. Planet Zoo however introduces Franchise mode which allows you to build a number of zoos under one brand name, earning conservation credits (more on those in a bit) along the way to buy more zoos and animals to satisfy your customer needs. There are challenges to complete whilst building your zoos, which will award you with money and conservation credits.

Planet Zoo is a stunning take on zoo management, allowing you to really create the zoo you want with very few limits. Of course, you have to adapt your zoo to the climate that you are working in. My first zoo was built in a North American Taiga biome meaning that snow was going to be an issue for the animals that lived in Deserts and Greenlands of Africa for example. The level of detail in this game is amazing, you almost have to perfectly assemble a habitat, by creating a number of different factors such as temperature, space, amount of hard shelter from the elements.

It will take some time to get used to the new surroundings and task at hand, but I’ve got to say the game doesn’t provide a very thorough tutorial. In the campaign you are tasked to work for a zoo tycoon and his assistant. But they skim the surface with what is available in the game and it’s up to you to get up to speed with what you’re doing. Worst of all, Planet Zoo wouldn’t let me complete the tutorial and bugged out on one of the tasks. So left blind sighted I decided to open my zoo and with a blank canvas I was instantly overwhelmed. I had a number of great ideas I wanted to do but just didn’t have the know how to execute so I’d recommend watching several YouTube videos tutorials before jumping in or having a play on sandbox mode if you’re not confident with these types of games.

My biggest gripe of the building system had to be building paths. Although there are angle snaps and such to help have better control over the way paths are set, there are a number of options such as tunnelling which are frustrating to use, as you tend to have to fiddle a lot with the camera and the game tends to snap above ground view. Whilst also the snapping, which is normally a nuisance in these types of games, with objects just going haywire the minute it nudges another objects.

The animals animations are stunning and captivating, recreating what they would be like in the wild. Along with the limitless freedom you have you are allowed to really capture these animals in their natural habitat. Planet Zoo really captures the aims of a modern zoo, with the effects of climate change having an impact on our natural world. You are rewarded for raising animals and releasing them back in the animal and are rewarded with conservation credits. These allow you to purchase animals with better gene ratings and therefore more chance of breeding suitable animals to be released in the wild, also buying new zoos for your franchise. The breeding is straight forward but they do provide a number of issues that need to be dealt with. First of all you need to make sure that you enclosures are perfectly suited for more animals, there’s enough feeders, enough space etc. I was met with awe when I first saw my baby Panda and like my guest I couldn’t get enough of the little trouble maker.

Planet Zoo is a really fun experience, it can take a while to get used to if you’re new to this type of game. But you are rewarded with a beautiful game that allows you to truly get creative and use your imagination to build a zoo of your dreams. The management systems are pretty easy to use and allow you to run your zoo efficiently and ease but just a warning don’t rush and take your time to make sure everything is place before expanding on your zoo. It’ll be exciting to see what Frontier Studios do with future DLC and I for one am looking forward to it.

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