Almost three years to the since the release of Planet Coaster the next in the ‘Planet’ series – is that a thing, is there a planet series? I’m saying there is… Planet Zoo has released and with it comes all the customisation and tinkering of its roller coaster counterpart but with a lot more depth on the management side. Management sim people, you’re going to enjoy this one!
Platforms: PC Steam
Players: 1 Player
Genres: Management, Simulation, Building
Developer: Frontier Developments
This product was received for free
What is it about?
As you might have guessed Planet Zoo is about building a zoo. You start life as an apprentice of sorts, wading in to the shallow end of a career as zoo manager. The career mode is where I started and I’d also suggest others start there too if you’re new to management sims. For the first few zoos your hand is held pretty closely as you get to grips with all the new components available. You will work your way through a number of scenarios each with their own unique objectives, locations and animals to tend to. Furthermore you will gain a good understanding of how to tend to your animals which is the biggest change to Planet Zoo.
The further you progress the less hand holding there will be and you’ll be afforded more creative freedom in order to obtain your objectives. To complete scenarios you’ll have to achieve star ratings with one, two and three stars being up for grabs.
Whereas Planet Coaster was about making fantastically crazy roller coasters Planet Zoo is more about tending to the animals. Which might sound obvious, but Planet Zoo has a lot more depth to its management side over its park building predecessor. The welfare of the animals is extremely important. Therefore making sure that the animals you adopt in to your park have the correct environment to thrive and be happy in is paramount to your overall success. In order to achieve that you need to understand their needs and to do that you’re able to research individual species. Research has a number of levels to it and the more you research that species the more you will know about its needs and the more items you will unlock to cater to them.
If you want to take your career mode to the next level you’re able to play in the new Franchise mode. This mode lets you build zoos all across the globe that are interconnected. As a result you’re able to trade animals between zoos and take part in community challenges.
If you’re not looking to make a name for yourself in the career mode or build a zoo empire, you can jump in to the sandbox mode. Here you have unlimited funds and everything already unlocked for you – it’s the pure creationists mode. Additionally you’re able to setup which biome you’d like to build your zoo in. In fact you’re only held back by your own imagination when creating the zoo.
Everything from the placement of trees, bushes and plants to the sculpting of the landscapes can be changed. You can create your own themes for buildings, or pick from the large number of pre-made ones. You could even build your entire zoo underground if you wanted too. I’m not sure why you would… but you can.
Look & Feel
Planet Zoo is a great looking game and zooming in close to all of the animals shows the level of detail that has been put in to them. Additionally all the items, props, and decorations look great too. The lighting from placing lampposts and other sources of light also looks really good. On top of that, if you take time to create good light setups it can look extremely effective for making you zoo look real.
Sound is just as cheery and jovial as any other park building sim. Although overall I’d say Planet Zoo is a lot quieter. You don’t get the screams and laughter of the theme park related games. It’s more a murmur of people milling around than a cacophony of terrified and delighted theme park goers. The animal sounds are good and effective to help with the immersion too.
Planet Zoo is a really solid entry in to the sim management genre. Not only does it do a great job of letting you go wild with creating and realising all sorts of wonderful or crazy ideas you might have. It also has good depth to the management side too.