Wildlife Park 3 Review – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Wildlife Park 3 Review



The Wildlife Park series has always been among the black sheep of the ever growing tycoon games family. While each of the three currently released games has a great idea or two, the way they’re executed makes them less desirable than their devs would want them to be. I had my hopes high that this wouldn’t be the case with their third game, Wildlife Park 3, but alas, no luck.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the game is running on a modified version of Gamebryo engine. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, it should, because that’s Bethesda’s go-to engine. They’ve used it in TES IV and Fallout games (my guess – Skyrim, too) to great extent. Naturally, recognizing this well known name, I was immediately stoked to see what the game has in store, but was left severely disappointed mere moments later. As soon as the game loads the main menu, which might take a while, you’ll know what you’re in for. Seriously, I barely even recognized it as such, and was waiting for it to load completely for a good minute or so, to no avail. In a word, it looks broken. In two words – very broken. The icons and buttons aren’t even properly aligned in some cases, and the translations are absolutely mortifying. But okay, let’s not get too judgmental, I thought. I’ve played brilliant games with terrible interfaces before, and I decided to hope this is one such jewel too. So I started the tutorial up, with a pinch of salt between my fingers. You know, just in case.

Turns out, the salt came in handy. I was greeted by a guy with a terrifying face of a horror movie puppet who speaks english with combined german and african accents. However impossible that last bit might seem, it’s the best description of the game’s voice-over I can provide. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, but hey, who cares. I’ll play freeplay most of the time either way – was my next thought. Trying very hard to ignore the scary dude (who was going to get fired soon anyway), I did my best to learn the game’s many systems, but the tutorial was hell-bent on confusing me. Somewhere in between the blood curdling voice over and mortifying engrish translation, I really lost track of what I was doing. Something with the gazelles, I believe. Anyway, that was the breaking point at which I completely gave up the tutorial. Freeplay, here I come.

If you can get past the storyline missions (which suck and should be ignored at all costs), there is some enjoyment to be had playing without the slimy Cthulhu hands of the tutorials nudging you forward. There are many, many, many options you can use to build your zoo, and the animals actually act as they should. The penguins, for example, will awesomely rush towards the pool as soon as you dig one for them. There is one abberant behaviour that bugs me, however. It would seem that no predatory animal ever shows any hostility towards its regular prey. One of the more extravagant animals of the game is the Sabertooth Tiger, and the thing won’t even look at the damn zebra I had placed in its habitat to see the bugger hunting. The game also has many skin (fur) variations that the engine will employ when spawning new animals. This ensures that your zoo never gets boring, especially when you start placing all the fancy vanity items around the place. There’s a fair number of facilities and animals to fiddle with, and for the first time I’ve had the chance to see in an animal tycoon game – you’ll have to tend to plants, too. See, for some reason, your zoo is set in an African savannah, and since the moisture is scarce there, all your fancy plants are going to be needing special (read: expensive) protection. Anyway, balancing all of the factors, numbers and animal needs the game throws at you is actually pretty interesting. And let’s face it, building your own zoo is always amazing.

On the technical side of things, Wildlife Park 3 is a mediocre game at best, and an Early Access title at its worst. I’ve had the background textures (mountains and such) flickering constantly as I was playing, with no way to stop them from doing it. The performance is also horrendous, in true Gamebryo fashion. I don’t think the game ever ran higher than 35 FPS for me, dipping as low as 12 (!) when numerous German horror muppets waltzed around.

It might seem from the review that Wildlife Park 3 is a bad game, but it really isn’t. It’s just that it takes a considerable amount of willpower to push through to the point where things get interesting. And even then, you’ve got to deal with bad performance and texture bugs. Not to mention the horror that are the menus and the ingame user interface. If you’ve got experience with zoo tycoon games or have an over abundance of patience, you might actually have fun with this game, but otherwise, it’s probably for the best if you just skip it altogether.