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World of Zoo

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PC, Wii
Genre: Simulation
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Blue Fang Games
Release Date: Nov. 2009


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NDS/Wii/PC Preview - 'World of Zoo'

by Erik "NekoIncardine" Ottosen on July 7, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

World of Zoo takes players beyond the fences and into their own zoo, allowing them to care for and build relationships with numerous animals through hands-on interactive gameplay.
Tycoon is a long-standing simulation series for the PC that's been released through Microsoft Game Studios for about seven years. With its detailed simulations of animal behaviors and tendency to take flights of fancy (including allowing your zoo to have extinct species in some expansions!) while still staying reasonably realistic, the series has been a great hit for its fandom. Now, Blue Fang Games has switched publishers and attempted to revitalize the series from the ground up with World of Zoo, coming to the DS, Wii and PC later this year. At the show floor of E3, several Blue Fang team members had the chance to show off the game and offered a fairly impressive showing.

As I arrived at my appointment, a Blue Fang staff member was dealing with a lion that had just tackled the camera.  He quickly explained that much of this game will be played in a first-person view, with you focusing on playing as a handler more than managing the zoo details. He quickly compared the game to both Nintendogs and Spore, noting how you won't need to worry about things like feeding them quite as much. Although the animal's emotions will be represented and they can even get ill, they won't die, and there's a firm emphasis on treating the diseases in various humorous ways.

The game only provides for 10 animals but lets you customize them with parts. While this isn't nearly as unlimited as Spore, animals' behaviors will be partially influenced by the parts they are made from, which certainly makes for a wide array of appearances. The game then lets you work on their environments with 400 different objects and play with them in different ways. The game also provides unlocks in the form of fact sheets for 90 real-world species, and, of course, more things to customize animals and their environments with.

Of the THQ lineup that they chose to showcase  at my appointment, World of Zoo looked better, sounded nicer and was clearly further along than many of the other games (enough for the development representative to be visibly surprised when the lion attacked him during display time). When the title finishes up in October, THQ will have a very nice showcase game for young players and animal lovers to enjoy, and Blue Fang will have a fine credit to their already well-established name.

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