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Planet Zoo

Planet Zoo: Console Edition

We return to Frontier's zoo management game to see how the game has been adapted to PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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Five years and 14 DLC packs later, Planet Zoo has followed in the footsteps of Frontier's previous project Planet Coaster and has migrated to consoles. Regarded as one of the most in-depth zoo simulators on the market, Planet Zoo has amassed a dedicated fanbase over the years and has received constant content updates along the way. The question stands though, has Planet Zoo been able to continue this success on consoles and stick the tricky landing when translating its controls for a controller set-up?

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As we've previously reviewed Planet Zoo and several of its DLC packs at Gamereactor, I won't be delving deep into the finer details of the game (for that you can read our initial review of the PC version here). Instead, I'll be focusing on how this new version stands when compared to the original in areas such as performance and available content.

First of all, when it comes to animals, there are currently 72 unique creatures in the base game and these are all realistically designed and come with their own selection of eye-opening facts. A slight drawback to the console edition is that all 14 DLC packs aren't available for players for launch. Instead, these will receive a staggered release until March 2025 and there are currently only four packs available. These are the Europe Pack, the Wetlands Pack, the North American Animal Pack and the Southeast Asia Pack.

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Planet Zoo
Planet ZooPlanet Zoo

The burning question you'll likely be asking is how does the experience control on consoles. Well, the simple answer to that is not too bad. Obviously things feel a little clunkier than being able to freely click through menus with ease, but with button prompts being constantly displayed on screen, I never felt too lost. There are also options present to filter items by criteria such as their country of origin or biome, so I wasn't left scrolling for an eternity.

There are a couple of hiccups that I encountered though. When allocating a vet to perform research for my zoo, for example, I had to click and drag them across to the area of research I wanted to complete. This would have felt intuitive on a PC with a mouse, but I was left feeling stumped and had to pull up an additional tutorial to find out what I was missing. It's worth noting though that on consoles such as the Xbox Series X/S, you do have the option to use a mouse and play the game with its optimal control scheme.

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When it comes to performance, I did notice a few glaring glitches that cropped up pretty frequently. The animals, whilst beautifully designed, often moved around in a jerky and unnatural fashion, which worked to drain away from their realism. This might sound like a minor criticism, but it put me off viewing the animals up close, as at times it was hilariously bad. I also found that the frame rate would take a dip when I built larger zoos with great numbers of guests roaming around. I have my fingers crossed that Frontier will roll out a performance patch in the near future.

A feature that isn't present in the PC version is the Zoo Complexity Meter, which is essentially a restriction on how big and detailed your zoos can be. A similar system was also implemented in Planet Coaster and it's essentially in place to maintain a smooth performance. I played the game on PS5 and built several medium to large-sized zoos in the game and only ever found myself hitting around 50%, so it does appear pretty generous. For context, the below image is what 21% looks like on the Zoo Complexity Meter.

Planet Zoo

I wouldn't describe the console edition as being the definitive version of Planet Zoo, but it's still a solid port of the game that animal lovers have been hungering for for years. There have been some sacrifices with the controls feeling a little clunky and the performance being a little rough around the edges, but it doesn't detract too much from the massively entertaining loop of building and managing your very own zoo. If you're a sim fan who doesn't own a PC, I would encourage you to check this and the equally excellent Planet Coaster out.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
It's still the same massively entertaining game. Animals are stunningly detailed. Its sandbox mode offers endless possibilities.
-
The controls are clunkier. Performance issues are frequent.
overall score
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