The “Roller Coaster Tycoon” and “Zoo Tycoon” series always have a special place on my hard drive, but let’s face it, they are showing their age. For the last five years, I’ve been itching for a modern-day game of either caliber…though most games that have tried to be as in-depth and expansive fell short. That leads me to “Zoo Park”, a game that recently released on Steam (as of 6/13/14). It advertises that the user will have the ability to “care for over 40 different animals from all four corners of the Earth whilst running a professional programme of rescue, rehabilitation, research and conservation”, but is it any fun and does it live up to standards that “RCT” and “ZT” have created from years past? Before we get started, I’d like to thank Richard Barclay from Excalibur Publishing, LLC. for providing me with a free press copy.
“Zoo Park”, at its core, is your typical “Zoo Management” game in that you’ll be tasked with caring for your customers as well as your animals. Starting with a flat plot of land, you’ll be in charge of seeing that your park grows and prospers. You can build paths for your customers to walk on and similarly, shops and stalls for them to satisfy various needs. Animals require enclosures (obviously) and like “Zoo Tycoon”, you can adjust the size to accommodate the individual animal’s needs. Further, they’ll require the right kind of food and habitat…otherwise, it could lead to problems for everyone involved. Hiring staff is also a necessity, as habitats will need maintained. “Zoo Tycoon” fans, it goes without saying, will be able to grasp these concepts without much difficulty.
There are a few differences between “Zoo Tycoon 2” and “Zoo Park”, however. For one, “Zoo Park” is a bit more simplistic and less accommodating when it comes to camera views. One of the things I really liked about “Zoo Tycoon 2” was the ability to walk around the park in first person, taking pictures as I pleased. I’m sorry to say that “Zoo Park” offers nothing like that, which is disappointing. The graphics are likewise simplistic…water simply doesn’t look like water, and so on. At times, I felt like I was looking at a mobile game. Oddly enough, there is no money in “Zoo Park”, rather, you’ll earn popularity points for the animals, shops, and stalls you have. You can collect them manually or wait until the end of the day, in which case you’ll automatically receive them in one lump sum.
That’s not to say that “Zoo Park” is a complete step backwards. You’ll have the ability to set the threshold for food levels in the habitats, for example. If the amount of food in a particular habitat drops to a certain level, your zoo keepers will come running to remedy the situation. Researching new animals is also different and done via a tech tree of sorts. Completing challenges will often reward you with a new species (or something special)…a step up from unlocking animals by increasing your park rating, I feel. Further, you can place structures dedicated to research which will, in turn, allow you to unlock more animals and items related to their care. You can improve their resistance to illness, for example. “Zoo Tycoon 2” was a bit more simplistic in this regard, simply requiring the user to click an item and pay a fee to unlock it for use.
Overall, “Zoo Park” isn’t a bad game, but could have been so much more. I really would have liked a 3D camera mode and the ability to walk through the park in first person, though the visuals and graphics wouldn’t have made that feature very pretty. No, “Zoo Park” is more along the lines of a “park manager”, focused more on the management aspect and less on the visuals. Think “Farming World” (another game published by “Excalibur Publishing, LLC.), but with zoos. With that said, it’s most certainly not “Zoo Tycoon 2” level quality…more like “Zoo Tycoon” level quality. “Zoo Park” does have some depth to it, but that’s about all it has going for it. On the plus side, you can grab the game for thirteen bucks (the retail price as of 6/20/14) which is a fair price for the content being offered. The Steam Summer Sale takes fifty percent off of that, so now would be the time to buy it if what you see interests you.
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Zoo Park” by visiting the following websites: