Zoo Tycoon (Xbox One)

Microsoft's animal park management simulator does away with some of the nitty-gritty in order to be a more accessible game

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Microsoft Zoo Tycoon
  • Microsoft Zoo Tycoon
  • Microsoft Zoo Tycoon
  • Microsoft Zoo Tycoon

Pros

  • Easy to read and navigate menus
  • Good Kinect implementation

Cons

  • Restrictive construction limit
  • Difficult to meet visitor demands

Bottom Line

Zoo Tycoon is a well designed and fun management simulator, but its restrictions on park size means that the growth in business is short-lived.

Would you buy this?

The Zoo Tycoon series has been letting PC owners build and manage their own animal park for over a decade, and the latest entry makes its debut on Xbox One. While it’s a comprehensive business simulator on PC, the console version simplifies the administration experience to make the game appeal to a wider audience.

Building the zoo

As in the past games, you are charged with building up a zoo from scratch with the goal of gaining both popularity and profitability. A campaign mode also presents you with various troubled zoos, where you are entrusted in solving myriad problems afflicting the businesses.

You have access to various animals and enclosures when you construct your park, and each one comes with its own strengths and weaknesses following its implementation. There are also plenty of graphs and statistics to read through in order to make an informed decision when choosing and running the attractions, as well as the animal park overall.

Zoo Tycoon is not just about building as many different attractions as quickly as you can; you need to keep the ecology angle in mind as much as the profitable one. That means an environmentally conscious park that protects and preserves animals is a better choice than one that just displays animals in cages.

The PC versions of Zoo Tycoon were heavily reliant on the mouse to navigate the menus and construct facilities, though the Xbox One version makes use of the control pad and the Kinect voice function. Fortunately, the menus are easy to navigate on the Xbox One with these controls, and the text is big and readable.

Although all of the in-game menus can be navigated with the control pad, you may want to give the Kinect controls a try, as they are both well implemented and practical. You can bring up information as pop-ups with a quick voice command, while simple hand gestures are used in feeding and interacting with animals.

Tough customers

While the detailed graphics and intuitive controls immediately stand out in Zoo Tycoon, a few shortcomings with the game crop up once you get a hang of the building mechanics for the park. For one, there is a limit on how many animals and structures you can have in your park.

All construction games of this type have limits, but in Zoo Tycoon you will likely max out the scope of your facility within the space of a few hours. Once you reach that construction threshold, there is not much else to look forward to except micromanaging the structures and the animals that you already have.

The downside of this is that visitors to your park will continue to be demanding, to the point where tweaking the attractions you already have may not be enough to maintain their interest. For that reason, you’ll likely want to start a new zoo from scratch instead of persisting with your stagnating initial attempt.

With management simulators like this, the motivation to keep playing is always bigger and better with facilities that are in turn costlier and more time consuming to obtain. Without that motivation, only the early part of the game will be engaging, while the latter parts of the game will likely only keep the most dedicated park owners interested.

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