Planet Zoo: Console Edition – PS5 Review

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Planet Zoo: Console Edition is a zoo builder and management sim game where you build a safe space for numerous animals big and small. It was developed and published by the British company Frontier Developments (Planet Coaster, F1 Manager 2023). It is undoubtedly a spiritual successor to Zoo Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon 2, which the team at Frontier brought us.

With my review based on the PS5 version the game is also available now on Xbox series X|S. You can check out Kevin’s review of the PC version and how it compares.

There’s a place for all animals big and small in Planet Zoo

I was excited to play Planet Zoo as it eventually made its way from PC to consoles after 5 years. Real-life zoos have their share of problems but it did feel nice to (digitally) help conservation for all sorts of animals. Even the ones with more than four legs or the big cat variety. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game so please feel free to comment below.

A isometric view a countryside zoo with Elizabethan architecture including a large gazebo, manor houese and outdoor pool amongst all the exhibits
Peak UK weather to visit the zoo


Planet Zoo has you as a newly minted zoo manager from a first-person perspective and zooms around to see anywhere in the area. There are different game modes like Sandbox and Challenge but I strongly recommend Career mode first. The tutorials of Career mode are key to getting anywhere in the game but also have the game’s narrative story. Then the game’s objectives introduce the numerous features and game mechanics, everything from building exhibits to guest education. After the tutorial, you take charge of an empty area of land and aside from some objectives you have complete freedom over the zoo.

Planet Zoo’s level of detail is both its biggest strength and biggest flaw when put into practice. The game is stunning with a wide variety of possibilities from the environment and buildings to the animals themselves. I could happily play the game watching the animals in their habitats with how well designed they are. From tigers to tiger beetles the variety is immense but can be overwhelming with the sim management part of the game. Even during the tutorial, the zoo management mechanics could be frustratingly unclear. And with no option to revisit tips and guidance, even simple tasks like placing roads become difficult.

A close up of the monkey habitat of the zoo with one monkey eating various fruits and another heading towards the large wooden climbing frame
Some monkey-ing around with melons

Don’t get me wrong, I think the detail is great and not just visually. I enjoy the message of animal care and conservation, the Zoopedia is a wealth of information. Managing aspects of zoos such as breeding, animal & staff happiness, habitat control and more is good in theory but less so in practice.

I discovered that Planet Zoo struggled to walk the line between fun and realistic and landed significantly on the wrong side of that line. I spent way too much time stumbling through knowing the issues of the zoo but the game gave little to no help with solutions.

Graphics & Audio

I enjoyed both the graphics and audio of Planet Zoo. For a game with so much going on simultaneously, I felt it ran smoothly. The animals are excellently rendered from their appearance to their movements within enclosures. Staff and guests had stylised designs like the Two Point series which I didn’t mind especially considering the number of people in a busy zoo.

Only occasionally were there issues like loading times being a little slow and the odd time an animal glitched into the environment. I mentioned it earlier but the visuals were fantastic and it is easy to just stop and watch an enclosure for a while.

A close up of view of the elephant exhibit where 2 adults and a baby elephant have an area reminscient of their home with the terrain and water in their habitat. Also the Planet Zoo game menu along the bottom of the screen.
Seems like the elephants aren’t about to up and pack their trunks quite yet

The audio was also very well-designed across the board, especially the NPC voices and animal sounds. Bernard, the zoo owner, and Nancy, the head zookeeper are well portrayed and their Britishness brings a sense of calm to the game. The soundtrack was very upbeat and melodic which also brought a sense of calm and practically fades into the background. The animal sounds were a big part of what made watching exhibits so engaging.


I have played several hours of Planet Zoo but feel I’ve only scratched the surface. Career mode alone has many hours of content then there is Sandbox and Franchise mode. Even in career mode, you have nearly total freedom to build the zoo you want. As you play you unlock more choices from animals to animal toys but you start with a good selection anyway. The only real limit on what you do is your bank account balance. While working towards in-game goals and objectives of course.

A close up of view of the panda habitat with 2 adults and a baby panda going about their business while some zoo guests watch enraptured.
And I thought getting pandas to mate was hard.

You will be able to visit other players’ zoos and they can visit yours which is a cool feature. Seeing other people’s perspectives helps with inspiration and perhaps gives that aha moment you need. Sharing zoos may inspire as well as be inspired by the online community with sharing zoos. Trading animals may also be key to achieving the PS5 version’s 39 trophies. If these types of sim management games are your cup of tea then Planet Zoo will keep you occupied for many hours.

Final Thoughts

Overall I liked my time playing Planet Zoo and I’m glad to have gotten to experience it. The setup is excellent and Frontier Development put a lot of care into the game. However, in practice, this visually fantastic game didn’t do as well with the gameplay mechanics. The variety of content combined with the mechanics almost shot itself in the foot. There is so much going on and even during the tutorial there is no way to revisit support/guidance and ends up becoming more frustrating than fun.

The graphics and audio of Planet Zoo are also amazing and designed and run very well, especially in busy zoos. It is so easy to stop and simply watch the animals in their habitats. The cliché British characters, soundtrack and sounds were fantastic and worked well with the intended ambience of the game. And with so much content and options there are many hours of gameplay and so many zoos to build and see.

Having come to understand the game a bit more I may revisit the game at some point. Planet Zoo has earned the Thumb Culture Silver Thumbs Up Award. I hope you enjoyed my review, if you’d like to read more I recently reviewed Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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