Zoo Tycoon – Review
Follow Genre: Simulation
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: 360, Xbox One

Zoo Tycoon – Review

Site Score
Good: Free roaming, lots of diversity
Bad: No real customization
User Score
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (4 votes cast)

The ‘Tycoon’ franchise has always been a popular one, yet it never really made its appearance on the current generation of consoles. Microsoft did an attempt to provide us with the best of both worlds. Zoo Tycoon is one of those games that might just show the potential of simulation games on consoles.



Zoo Tycoon is not really a story driven game. The game is pretty much all about creating a Zoo that attracts as much visitors as possible. Even though the game offers a decent set of scenarios or a campaign mode, the goal remains the same.

You will be faced with challenges during the creation of your Zoo, but that’s pretty much all the story value that Zoo Tycoon has to offer. Then again a game such as this one does not really a story to be enjoyable.



Graphically Zoo Tycoon shows us what the Xbox 360 is really capable of. The game looks breathtaking when your zoo comes to life.

The texture quality is great and even the small details are not neglected. For example, when an animal washes itself, it shows a clear difference.

Even though there is no real customization when it concerns building your own habitat, the lack of freedom is not a real issue. The game has enough habitats to offer, to create a diversity in your zoo.

Species of animals come in different varieties as well. Most of the time it’s been done with a simple texture change, but extra options are always a plus.

Seeing it’s a graphically strong game, the game has some minor issues with ‘pop-ups’ and small frame drops. These are hardly noticeable and only when your zoo is starting to fill the map, these will become a tad more frequent, but they will never reach an annoying point.

All in all, it’s clear that the developers did their best to offer a great looking game, and it’s fair to say they succeeded.



Zoo Tycoon comes packed with typical sounds that would match a real life zoo. You’ll be able to enjoy the sounds of all your animals and the crowd that runs around your park.

Other than the typical sound effects, there is not much that can be said about the music of the game. You’ll be able to listen to some subtle background music, but most of these tracks are never really that memorable or even noticeable.

A great addition to a game like this would have been some spoken dialogues or instructions, but sadly these aren’t included.



Zoo Tycoon is a typical game in the Tycoon franchise. You will have to do your best in creating a zoo that attracts as many people as possible. This can be accomplished by placing as many habitats as possible (duh!) but also by decorating your zoo and provision of the necessary shopping and entertainment possibilities.

Even though the game has a set of different modes, the overall goal and gameplay will remain unchanged through the course of all these modes.

The game offers a decent tutorial mode for you to learn the ropes of the game. You’ll be able to play through ten short tutorial levels. These always deal with a different topic, which make them great to play again when you’re in need of a specific tutorial.

To create the best possible zoo, you will have to provide your customers with enough variety, as well as keeping an eye on your finances. Creating habitats is an easy task, seeing they are already pre-formed. This means you won’t be able to customize the shape and size of the specific habitat you want to build. Each of the habitats will have a small, medium and large variant.
After placing a habitat you’ll have to keep in mind which animals are the most happy in each specific environment and what they need to remain happy.


You’ll have to make sure you think about the food supplies of each individual habitat, as well as certain interactions or enrichments to keep your animals occupied. Creating these three types of items for your habitats is fairly easy, but resupplying them or replacing them with an item of another type can be a drag from time to time. When wanting to replace an item of a certain type with one of another type, you’ll have to delete the old one first, before actually being able to create your new item. Luckily when you try to replace an item of the same type, the game allows you to simply replace it. You’ll have to keep in mind that each habitat only has a certain amount of slots to fill, so you’ll have to keep in mind which items your animals will need the most, or you’ll have to go through some switching afterwards.

Animals themselves have to be kept happy with the supply of food, social interactions or simply fun things to do. When you do, your animals will grow in level. When an animal reaches its maximum level you’ll be able to release it in the wild, which just might turn out to be great for your zoo, as this counts as support for the preservation of the wild life.

You’ll have plenty of options such as attracting people with baby animals, breeding with animals, adopting animals or receiving donated animals and so on. All of these facets may turn out to be very profitable for your zoo and the more popularity you gain, the higher your rank will get.

Receiving a higher rank comes with many conveniences such as more funds, as well as unlocking new buildings, habitats, animals and research possibilities. These will in turn lure more people and influence your rank once again.


Not only animals are important to expand your zoo. If you create a zoo with loads of animals, the visitors will love the diversity but they will miss such things as decorations and facilities, such as shops and toilets. Not all of these items can be built from the start and thus some will need to be researched first before you’re able to place them.

When your zoo becomes too big, it will become increasingly harder for you to resupply all the food and washing stations in your zoo. This can be solved by hiring staff that helps you with the upkeep of your park. This will lighten the burden of doing the smaller trivial tasks over and over again.

Seeing the game does not allow you to customize the terrain for your habitats or shops, placing these plots will result in a lot of gaps between all your different items. Luckily these can be filled with smaller ‘decoration’ items, such as trees.

A fun twist Zoo Tycoon has to offer is the option of running around your zoo. Whilst doing so you’ll be able to do certain interactions with your animals (when placing an interaction at their habitat) and entertainment facilities. You’ll also have the possibility of roaming around your zoo in a buggy that magically pops out of the air when called. Another fun possibility is the ability of taking pictures in your own zoo to create your own photo album.


During the course of your campaign, challenges or free play, you will receive a decent amount of in game challenges as well. These are fairly straightforward and will have to be completed in a set amount of time. Most will earn you extra funds but when neglecting them, you might also lose a bit of money. These will create a drive for you to keep playing, even after your main objective is complete.


Zoo Tycoon offers a great simulation experience with a decent amount of content to keep you occupied for hours. The lack of customization, compared to other Tycoon games on PC is hardly noticeable because of the diversity this console game throws at you. Games like this show the potential of simulation games on consoles.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
Zoo Tycoon - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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