Warning this review does contain SPOILERS
Is Wildlife Park 3 a lion or a pussycat in this over-crowded world of sim games?
Disclaimer: I am a total sucker for a sim. There’s something satisfying about having responsibility for something that isn’t my life, and it’s not even a big deal if someone dies, catches fire, or I spiral into uncontrollable debt. It makes me feel so much better about myself. Wildlife Park 3, developed by b-Alive and published by bitComposer Games,may not be a high-budget sim, but it had me wide awake and playing until the early hours of the morning, and here’s why.
In Wildlife Park 3, you run a wildlife park (SPOILERS). Aside from keeping your animals entertained, fed and in the correct environments, you must tailor your park to the every want of your customers, while avoiding bankruptcy. There are two modes – campaign and free. Campaign mode is a glorified tutorial. You pass from mission to mission in different parks around the world, learning the ins and outs of managing a wildlife park of your own. As you progress through the missions, you’ll find yourself with more and more responsibility. Once you’ve got the gist, you can go into free mode. In free mode, you pick one of many locations – all varying in land type and climate, and so more suitable for particular plants and animals. You can also choose how much money you’ll be starting with, and have an option to toggle certain ‘rules’ on and off, such as animal death. WP3 can be as easy or difficult as you like. I’m well on my way to building a wildlife empire, and I have no regrets.
Whether or not you’re a millionaire, keeping animals happy is easy. I recommend playing the campaign mode first, however, because the interface is a nightmare. The icons are faintly coloured and hard to see, without hovering over each one to figure out what’s what. What’s more, it’s terribly translated. For example, in an early campaign mission, you’re asked to move a zebra by clicking it and hitting ‘OK’. I picked up my zebra, which dangled nonchalantly in the air with its legs dangling, and searched for the ‘OK’ button. And searched. And searched. All the while, my zebra flung wildly through the air. It took at least five minutes for me to realise – there is no OK button. This isn’t a ‘there is no spoon’ Matrix moment. My zebra was relieved when it was finally deposited in its enclosure, and I was left feeling like that had been much more complicated than it should have been.
Clicking an animal brings up its thoughts, because as well as a manager, you are an animal psychic. They’ll tell you if they’re hungry, thirsty, or if they want to play. Clicking on relevant icons reveals what food they eat and toys they like to play with. Keeping their happiness levels up is that simple, especially because you hire keepers to deal with the cleaning of manure and the refilling of food and water. If for some reason you don’t sufficiently cater to your animal’s needs, it will die. Happy animals of the opposite sex will breed. You can keep or sell offspring in the animal shop, depending on how big your enclosure is. Some will get old and die. The age and health of an animal is displayed before you purchase them from sellers, so maintaining a healthy group is easy and satisfying. The animals are also individual, with randomised coat colouring, tails, horns etc. You can’t help feeling attached, and getting a pang of sadness when one of your animals passes away. For softies like me, you can name your animals, but this might be a terrible idea. I sniffled over the loss of RawrImALion. RIP.
The animals are easy. Dealing with the customers, however, will leave you searching for the option to feed them to your lions (there isn’t one, sadly). They want more animals, they want more shops, the shops are too expensive, there’s litter that they have just dropped. It’s a relief that the keepers and gardeners are on hand to care for your wildlife and fauna, because you’ll be rushing around adjusting prices, upgrading toilets, placing bins and decorating your park until the ocean of enormous yellow miserable faces vanish from above your customers’ heads. Meanwhile, you should keep an eye on your staff. Cheap, low-ranked workers may need to be moved around to ensure they’re actually doing their jobs and not just stood scratching their backsides. As if that isn’t enough, the plants need as much attention as the animals. They’re pretty fussy. Thankfully, you are a tree-whisperer as well as an animal psychic and can tap into their thoughts, working out if they need softer or harder ground, and what temperature they prefer.
WP3 is not pretty. The graphics look out-dated, like it was made ten years ago. The voice acting is pretty painful to listen to – forced laughs and over-enthusiastic dialogue that grated on my nerves in moments. But there’s just so much to do. The landscape can be played with; you can create hills, cliffs and ponds. The range of animals you can have for your park is huge, and you can decorate it to your taste. Each decoration comes in varying sizes and colours. If you want bright pink toilets, you shall have them! But there’s nothing to make it stand out from the crowd. Just like Rollercoaster Tycoon, just like Theme Park, it’s a management sim. They’re all addictive and entertaining in their own way, but they are ultimately the same. It would have been refreshing for something new, something to break up the monotony of the genre. Wildlife Park 3 falls short.
Although poorly translated, and nothing to look at, Wildlife Park 3 is a lot of fun. Catering to both the animals’ and the customers’ needs while building your dream park will prove enough of a challenge to keep you playing for hours at a time. The interface is fiddly, but extensive, and you may learn a thing or two about some of the animals you’re caring for. Unfortunately, it’s faded into the background of the sim genre, but for £7.99 it’s worth a shot, for young and older alike.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.