Zoo Empire is basically a copy of Microsoft’s Zoo Tycoon. Now, Zoo Tycoon wasn’t a casual game, and neither is Zoo Empire. The reasons are very, very simple: there’s way too much to keep track of, too high of a learning curve, and there is no way you can play this for a few minutes and come back later.

For me, Zoo Empire feels like a trip to memory lane. It’s so much like Zoo Tycoon it’s eerie. The only thing that seems to be different is that my polar bears don’t seem to want to have the penguins for lunch when I leave them in the same pen. I don’t think that’s an improvement. Seeing my visitors running away in terror because I delete a part of the fence containing my lions were all part of the fun in Zoo Tycoon.

Zoo Empire is not a new game – it has actually been out since 2004. There has been a number of reviews written about it. So instead of my ranting about how it is not a casual game, I’d like to list a couple of quotations here.

Zoo Empire allowing you to choose from over 40 species and subspecies of animals including both rare and endangered species, over 150 types of visitors and animals objects, over 200 buildings, items and facilities. There are a dozen different terrain types, each with unique dynamic grass effects allows you to experience the subtle landscape changes as you progress in the game. There are also food booths, gift shops, toilets, bins, signs, first aid stations, security and vending machines, etc. As owner of your zoo, you can adopt animals, landscape and build exhibits, hire and manage employees. – GameGuru

The early stages of the game are blessed with a tutorial system to get you acquainted with the interface and controls. This is, of course, frustrating and relatively slow, but is genuinely useful and the game is all the better for it. – BoomTown

The question is, are you willing to play through 2 hours of tutorials? You have to learn how to fence animals in, edit the terrain, hire a myriad of staff, conduct research, build small and large buildings, keep animals in their desired habitats, etc, etc. Despite it being a kids’ game, Zoo Empire has a pretty steep learning curve.

If you’re willing to put in the time, Zoo Empire does turn out to be an addictive Zoo simulation. It is a completely children friendly, non-violent simulation game that contains fun facts on all of the animals that you can have in your zoo. I do recommend picking this one up from the store though – you will want a printed manual on-hand, since the tutorial doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. You can get this off BFG for $6.99, but getting the boxed version shouldn’t cost you anymore – it’s a 3 year old game, and a budget title to begin with.