Game Reviews

Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue!

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Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue!

This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

There are approximately one million games on the App Store that allow you to look after animals while building a habitat for them. Roughly half of those are freemium games.

Does Gameloft's latest stand above the rest like a giraffe reaching for a leaf? Or does it wallow in mediocrity, like a below average hippopotamus?

First Impressions

The aspect of Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue! that immediately grabs you (aside from the rogue exclamation point in the title) is its presentation - it looks great. You're given the standard isometric view typical of world builders, but the accompanying art is detailed and filled with colour.

3D models of the animals you rescue populate your vibrant little zoo, scampering about their environments and going about their business. They're not incredibly realistic, but they move smoothly and fluidly, bringing a lot of life to the various habitats.

If there's a criticism to be made, it's that the screen can look very busy. There are park attendees wandering around, constant movement from the wildlife, loads of contrasting colours, cash, and experience icons. If you've not laid out your zoo well it can get really cluttered.

Where there's a little more space is in the capturing mini-game, in which you drive a truck around in an effort to capture wild beasts that need rescuing. Its implementation is essentially little more than busywork in the form of a luck-of-the-draw opportunity to capture an animal, but it's a neat diversion.

Pretty soon you're filling out the zoo, buying concessions stands to fleece money from punters, and expanding your ecological empire by buying up more land - all of which is gradually doled out through challenges.

3 days: slowing the wild world

It's clear by this point that the game is following the pattern laid down by Zynga for its brand of world-building, although it's a little more streamlined than FarmVille. You plod along, ensuring your animals are fed, and in turn you receive money for doing so after a set period of time.

The longer you have to wait, the more money you'll get, and you'll want to check in regularly to keep a steady stream of cash flowing in. The challenges guide you toward making more friends, inviting your buddies to play, and there are options to share successes, such as levelling-up.

With each subsequent level comes access to new safari adventures to help injured or endangered animals, as well as decorations and new building types.

It's around this point that the challenges start to require lots of money to accomplish, and where animals you're trying to rescue will evade your capture more readily.

It's all pushing you towards buying Peanuts, the game's premium currency. Speeding up processes is relatively inexpensive, but buying new equipment and animals, or supplying extra drivers in your expeditions, isn't. Without these, the pace slows.

7 days: taming of the sheep

After a week, Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue! has slowed to the normal pace of a world-builder. You'll dip in and out of the game to check on your progress and make extra money - which is thankfully a quick experience - but by here you're going through the freemium motions.

It's still great to look at, and if you're a neatness freak then your obsession with order and putting everything in its place will be rewarded with a superb-looking zoo. However, there are only so many times collecting money, feeding the animals, going on excursions, and breeding animals will hold your interest.

The real-world expense of playing hasn't increased too greatly beyond the mid-week mark, but why would you bother if there's not a whole lot to do with your reserve once you've purchased the things you really want?

After an exciting start, it's clear that this is just another world-builder. It's well-constructed, and if you just want another game of that ilk to pass the time until the next one comes along then this comes highly recommended.

For anyone looking for something a bit different, or for a more long-lasting title, feel free to skip it.

If you're currently playing Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue! then let us know what you think. You can leave any comments, or better yet provide us game tips, in the box below.

Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue!

While it doesn't break the mould for a world-builder as set down by Zynga, Wonder Zoo - Animal Rescue! is still a decent stab at the genre, with some top production values
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.