Review: Planet Zoo (Console Edition)

Estimated read time 4 min read

Developer – Frontier Developments

Publisher – Frontier Developments

Platforms – PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X|S

Review copy given by Publisher

Have you ever wanted to make your own zoo? Or take over an existing zoo while managing specific circumstances? Planet Zoo gives you every chance of running your own dream zoo, taking care of exotic animals in breathtaking locales. Success isn’t guaranteed as animals need special care and visitors must find a reason to keep coming. But if you keep at it and are willing to learn from your mistakes, the perfect zoo is just a reach away.

There isn’t much of a story even with the tutorial scenarios. You are simply thrown into zoo management with a variety of challenges, either to teach or push you. Building the ideal zoo is the goal here and finding out how you can let your creativity shine without accidents. While there is some animal and zoo humor, none of it stands out. Everything is designed to ensure you learn how to raise animals.

The tutorials are slow yet detailed. Even if you have played other zoo simulators before, it’s worth running through the basics to understand the game. The level of detail, customization, and variety means that going in unprepared is a recipe for disasters. The tutorials have their own level of mismanagement and are mostly meant for teaching purposes. Once they are done, be prepared to move on as you likely don’t have the knowledge to save that zoo.

Everything you do looks amazing. The environment and animals look realistic, as do the materials and humans that populate your zoo. The attention to detail on the animals almost makes it look like watching a nature documentary. While the humans don’t look realistic, the attention has always been on the animals. Even accidentally mistreating animals makes their suffering visible.

If there are problems in your zoo, the UI helps you attend to them. You can also view simple tutorials and get a refresher on the basics if you forget anything. Detailed information about animals, their habitats, and preferred objects prevents you from making big mistakes. The only problem is that it is a lot of information to absorb.

To prevent information overload, the game slowly feeds you the information. While anyone who has played a few simulators will quickly adapt, you can’t jump ahead too quickly. Planet Zoo’s level of attention and detail aren’t the same as other simulators and it’s easy to make mistakes. This does mean the tutorial is somewhat mandatory and you can’t learn through trial-by-fire. Without a guide or learning how things work, you can’t easily fix problems. This does extend the learning curve because it makes the tutorials mandatory and there is a lot to go through.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to switch modes if you are bored. Set up your sandbox zoo or take on a challenge to test what you learned. Like any simulator, you are going to fail in taking care of animals or keeping your zoo financially viable. This gets better as you learn and pay attention, considering all the factors you learned and applying your knowledge. Information is always at your fingertips and a review is never the wrong answer.

Despite the difficulty, the customization is perfect for any simulation fan. You can control the zoo’s appearance, the animals on display, and the attractions for visitors. Every detail related to their comfort is within your grasp, meaning success and failure is solely on your shoulders. While there are always events left up to chance like animals escaping, that’s something you can prepare for. That level of control is initially intimidating but eventually empowers you once you learn the game’s inner workings.

Planet Zoo is for the player who has always thought about managing their own zoo. For everyone else, it’s a tough sell because it’s all about management. But if animal care and zoo management is something you love, it’s hard to find a game that’s done it better than Planet Zoo.

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