World of Zoo - PC - Review
From Flight Simulator to Zoo Tycoon, there’s no question that Microsoft Game Studios has a considerable presence in the simulation genre. While players have historically shown a great interest in managing zoological parks, World of Zoo is not the generic expansion or sequel some might be expecting. It is a completely redesigned simulation that focuses on interactions with the animals at a more personal level.
This emphasis on character is conveyed in a number of ways. To begin with, the player does not hover endlessly over a massive landscape like some omnipotent being. Instead, you will find yourself on your “feet” among the animals. This means the creatures will directly respond to your presence. Their actions might be aggressive at times, but there is nothing horrifically violent or frightening about these moments, so most young children should feel comfortable during play. The game does focus on individual care for the animals, though not quite to the extent of some “pet” simulations. Rather than obsessing about what the animal is doing at any given moment, the player can carry out various tasks to improve the creature’s quality of life.
This allows younger players to enjoy the experience without excess worry or tension. It is fairly evident that World of Zoo was designed with younger players in mind, even from the initial glance at the game’s graphic style. Crisp and bold designs lend World of Zoo a very clean appearance. However, it is not merely the superficial appearance that makes World of Zoo approachable. The animals themselves demonstrate an awareness of the player’s presence, and it makes them seem much more alive. Depending on the context, they may actually approach you and attempt to interact directly. This greatly improves the emotional connection to the animal as a being that is capable of affection.
The in-game currency rewards player success with the opportunity to purchase furnishings, food, and other items for the animals. Over time, it is possible that children will care more about these rewards than the animals themselves, but since they are generally beneficial for the animals, this isn’t a major concern. Players can also take advantage of the game’s animal customization feature, changing the animal’s appearance to suit their personal taste. Ultimately, the critter will still be recognizable within its own genus; you cannot create griffons, dragons, or other wacky beasts with the customization tool. Further reinforcing World of Zoo’s credibility is the availability of fact files, courtesy of National Geographic. The potentially educational quality of World of Zoo will make it an especially attractive game for conscientious parents.
By eschewing the tedium of similar games, World of Zoo offers children a chance to explore the fundamentals of animal-care in the safety of a digital medium. Many adults will also find World of Zoo to be quite charming, particularly those who enjoy animals or more casual PC games. With multiple species to choose from and tons of goodies to unlock, this title will undoubtedly be one of the better ways to keep kids occupied during their holiday downtime.
Review Scoring Details for World of Zoo
Simplistic yet refreshing, World of Zoo offers an excellent interface for younger players.
Nicely stylized visuals and lively animations make the animals more compelling as characters than mere attractions.
While some effects are repetitive, most of the sound is appropriately cheerful, which young children should enjoy.
Very accessible, with hundreds of items to further replayability.
An interesting take on a familiar concept.
World of Zoo is unquestionably a family-friendly title, but leans strongly toward child audiences. A bit more depth or realism might have thrown the balance off, but could spice up the game considerably for more mature players.