Wildlife Park 3 is a game where you get to create and manage your very own wildlife park. You make animal enclosures, pick the animals to go in there, hire vets, zoo keepers, gardeners, garbage men, place visitor facilities, plants, decorations and so on. As a game, its full of soothing music and the campaign tells you exactly what to do.
The game is good at telling you what the animals and visitors want when you click on them. Such as buffalo want to wallow in mud or have a mineral deficiency. Not just that, but icons hover over the heads of both animals and visitors. The visitors have smiles or frowns over their heads. The animals have icons indicating their needs such as its too hot out, if they’re thirsty, hungry or need more foliage. The animals can do a variety of things such as mate, have babies, get sick, scratch on trees, play with toys and wallow in mud. Clicking on an animal shows their information in a panel at the bottom. This panel is full of information how their needs are being met. Everything from grass, meat, mineral and water to scratching, temperature, ground and foliage. To be honest the charts are appreciated, but not needed when the comment box for each animal bluntly tells you where each animal is deficient.
You don’t just buy an animal or hire someone like you would a piece of furniture, you need to hire from applicants and buy from animal traders. Every animal and employee is unique unto themselves, so you need to select the right one for you. Not just that, but consider their price, age, health and skills. This all goes into the management aspect of it. You can sell off animals and babies. Its all about keeping your wildlife park running. When you click on an employee, you can see their range radius that they will tend to. The radius is a giant square that you can shrink or expand, but its always a square instead of just being assigned to a specific enclosure or two. The staff will attend to all feedings, watering, droppings and vets will attend to sick animals automatically. They’ll also gain skills when working with animals too.
When your visitor approval rating go up, so do your ‘stars.’ With more stars, you can charge more, upgrade buildings, unlock more buildings and have a selection of better animals. It is a wildlife park, not a zoo, even though someone in the tutorial calls it a zoo. Since it is a wildlife park, it sticks to that theme, you’ll find wild animals here. You’ll find bison, wildebeest, gazelles, lions, giraffes, hippos, penguins, cheetahs, bears, pumas, sea lions, leopards, chimps, gorillas, elephants, zebras and so on. Some might say the game is limited in its how many species of animals that it has. Perhaps some DLC will offer different animals, but since this game was originally released in 2011, I think that monkey escaped the zoo a long time ago.
The animals aren’t the only things you’ll need to keep alive. The trees are living too. They’ll need the correct ground underneath of them to flourish. Not only for the animals to eat and shade themselves, but in this game, the animals get spooked from seeing jeep rides drive through their enclosures. So you’ll need to obscure the jeep ride tracks with foliage as exampled in the campaign.
I love games like these that blend management and creativity into making your own area. Games like Roller Coaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Prison Architect, Sim City and Cities XL. With that being said, I really want to like Wildlife Park 3, but it just feels so cumbersome, devoid of goals and just not fun overall. The ‘campaign’ is really just a tedious tutorial with some okay to good voice acting. This is one of those tycoon games that has characters commanding you. How to pick up animals, where to drop them. After about 3 hours, I felt like the tutorial wasn’t specifically telling me what to do.
The tutorials seemed to have bugs or issues, such as the next button not working or even when you do what they tell you to, they still will not continue. Sometimes doing as you please and saying that area needs something, doing it then it breaks the tutorial and prevents it from continuing even after undoing what you did, causing multiple restarts when really I just want to build my own wildlife park. Perhaps none of their testers deviated and did anything the game wasn’t instructing them to do. For completing each campaign mission, you’ll unlock an extra decoration or something to add to whatever parks you have in the future.
There is freeplay mode, which seems to be the real game since the campaign is just a tutorial. With freeplay, you get to select a plot of land from dozens from around the world. You then select how much money you start with and rules such as if your animals and or plants can get diseases. The problem here is some of the areas just feel very small even for one animal enclosure, let alone dozens. Each plot of land has their own climate, either grassy, desert or tundra.
While I can’t say the graphics are the best, they’re not the worst. You’ll see stiffly animated animals and beautiful foliage, hiding in tall grass and experience all of the seasons with rain and snowfall. It is a nice layer of graphical detail. Even better than that, if you really want to examine things, you can use your mouse wheel to zoom straight up to the animals to see them play, swim, and eat or just to see how bored your staff looks. You can also see how the characters don’t move their lips when talking, but that’s a nitpick unless you really want to figure out who is talking to you. When you are super zoomed in, you can see in first person perspective, and walk around. The only problem is right and left keys rotate you instead of strafing you, but when you’re not zoomed in all the way, you can strafe. I guess it offers control diversity to what you prefer.
That is just the tip of the iceberg as to how the controls feel out of date. There are no hotkeys, you need to push the rotate button instead of mouse dragging to rotate like similar games a 3D engine. Its all so cumbersome. Luckily the 3rd tutorial teaches you to hold the mouse button and move up or down to rotate the item, otherwise you’d need to click the rotate button on the panel and check to see how far the item rotated. When I want to pick up an animal or employee, I need to highlight them, then click on move from a bottom menu, then move them and drop them. It just feels like an extra step and it could have been streamlined like other games have done.
The game is full of needlessly poor design choices. Yellow text on yellow and red gradient background so it blends in. Paths aren’t considered ground so much as they are considered ‘visitor facilities.’ To top that off, paths are called ‘ways,’ in the menu, but even the game calls them paths and thoroughfares.
The game doesn’t feel fun compared to most every other sort of build your own this or that tycoon game. There’s nothing to do, no goals to achieve other than the blunt commands in the campaign tutorial. Visitors will have thoughts and I guess that tells you what you should do. They want to see other animals, so then you add more animals, and then they want to see more animals, so you add more animals. It would be nice if there was a campaign with goals such as have 600 visitors to your wildlife park within 2 years. Have X amount of animals in your park within 4 years. Have a park value of X amount in Y years.
Even though this is a finished product, the third game in a series, it feels much more like the start of an unfinished game. I bought it in a $1 bundle and you can too. Maybe the fourth Wildlife Park will be better and have more to offer.