"Sid Meier's Civilization VI" & "Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate..." - Games That Ate Up My Summer

This is a different post because I wasn’t the reason I got sucked into these games, I’d never really even cared about Zoo Tycoon until last week when I was scrolling through the Game Pass For PC library and my boyfriend picked it out. Within 10 minutes of the game being open though, we were completely hooked, there was nothing to live for except Zoo Tycoon. Shortly after a week of nothing but Zoo Tycoon, I was thinking of a different management sim I got for free in a recent sale, since my bf loved ZT so much, why not sit him in front of Civilization VI and see what happens? Well here we are, still hopelessly addicted to it, and our 4th eyes have been opened to the pure bliss that is the 4X genre. (*Zoo Tycoon is not a 4X game but both games are management sims and for some reason my brain makes weird connections like that)

Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection (“2017” [but really 2013]) by Frontier Developments & Asobo Studio

Do not buy this game at full price. It is complete garbage, but I still like it for some reason. It’s clearly made for console since the PC port is kinda janky and the keyboard and mouse controls are “interesting” to say the least (and my bf now presses the space bar to confirm in other games now which is painful to watch), but man is it fun to just build up a massive zoo. By the way, the “Ultimate Animal Collection” is just like a “re-release/game of the year/special edition” that includes all the DLC and stuff and was released in 2017, but the orginal base game was released for Xbox in 2013, so it is a decently old game at this point.

Right out of the gate I have heard of some complaints that fans of the older Zoo Tycoon games have, such as: there isn’t too much customisation in the game, you’re basically just placing pre-made models into the small space you’ve been given with simple “connect these two things” pathway system connecting said things together, apparently in older games you had much more control over the way your zoo looked, but I still think there’s a fair amount of customisation in the game, you can change the colours and materials of pretty much anything you can place, and the automatic pathway system isn’t the worst thing in the world (most of the time). Nonetheless, fans of the originals unanimously dislike this game for whatever reason, so I guess if you liked the old Zoo Tycoons, don’t play this (play Planet Zoo instead)

The game looks pretty good for a 2013 game, especially if you’re playing on a PC with high settings, I like the childish flat graphics UI look, suits the game very well and brings the game franchise which is quite old into the “current day” (i.e. 2013).

There is one other thing that makes this game great though, once your management tasks are done, you get to step into a third person camera and actually visit your zoo, interact with exibits you put down, take photos of the adorable animals, cry because the tamanduas are so cute, etc.

Zoo Tycoon Screenshot

Once we started playing Civ VI though, I realised how simple this game was in quite a few ways that you can only get when comparing to the competition (yes I know they aren’t in direct competition they’re slightly different genres), there really isnt much to keep track of apart from animal happiness and customer happiness, which makes it a great and accessible starting point for management sims (especially since it’s predominantly a console game, most sims are made for PC first), but once you’ve graduated onto other things, you get bored of Zoo Tycoon very quickly… which leads me onto the next game quite well…

Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection is available on Steam and Microsoft Store for PC and Xbox One

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (2016) by Firaxis Games

“Sid Meier is the god of turn based 4X”; thats all that I’d heard about this game coming into it, and while I’m not sure that statement is entirely true, Civ VI is undoubtedly the most addictive game I’ve ever played in my life. Civ has the ability to just suck you into its world that would make 90s politicians sound reasonable when they say that “videogames keep your brain hostage”. The game literally has a real world time clock in it and I still manage to just forget that I’ve spent 5 hours playing. I’ve been trying to figure out why, and I think it’s the turn based nature of the game, because each turn is a fixed amount of time in the game world, you feel like its a fixed amount of time in the real world, so when you’re spending 1 second a turn pressing the “next turn” button because you cant really do much (which is 60% of the time), it feels the same as when you’re spending 10 minutes on a turn strategising how you’re going to perfectly time training your pikeman so that you get a boost to your science research tree. I’ve found similar timey-wimey-weirdness when I’ve played one of the Total War games, which is also turn based, but not quite to this extent.

That probably wont make sense to you until I explain the gameplay, so I guess I’ll try to do that now…

At the start of the game, you pick your civilization leader, each leader gets unique bonuses so some leaders are better than others for certain victory conditions (yes there are multiple win conditions). Once you’ve started the game, you’ll load into the map, and there will be a “Settler” unit on a grid of hexagonal squares, normally by a river or coast surrounded by empty map. Clicking the “Found City” button in the Settler’s options will give you your capital city. You’ll also have another unit, normally a warrior or a scout to get you started on exploring the map. Once you have a city, that city can produce something that will take a number of turns to complete, each city can produce one thing at a time, but some things you can just buy outright with the gold that you aquire to skip the wait. The amount of turns that it takes to produce something depends on the amount of “production per turn” value that city has, which is shown as an orange cog in the city details, you’ll also see an icon for food, science, faith, and culture produced per turn. You are also constantly researching new sciences and civics in the Science and Civics trees, this also takes a number of turns (which can be boosted by performing actions in game), which advance your civilization technologically and socially. The goal is the build your civ up to be dominant in one of 4 ways since there are 4 early win conditions, Science, Culture, Domination, and Religion. For a science win you need to colonise Mars, for a Culture win you have to have more tourism than every other civilisation has domestic tourism, for Domination you need to take every other civilisation’s capital cities, and for Religion win, you need to have the majority (more than 50%) of all cities following your religion.

There is always things happening in the game that make you feel like you should just play “one more turn”, like discovering rival civilisations, cities finishing producing things, wars/battles, unlocking new science/civics research, etc. It’s just really good, ok?!?!?!


Civ IV Screenshot This is not my save but man someone spent a looong time on this

Graphically this game is pretty nice too, at first I was very very very intimidated by the busy UI, but once you get an idea of what’s happening you realise that actually, with the amount of plates you need to spin at the same time, the UI has to be a bit busy, so they seem to have done the best with what they had. Also everything in this game is quite detailed, which was surprising, whenever I think of 4X games I would think of garbage free mobile games or the old Age of Empires 2D/Isometric kind of graphics, but I really like how this game looks. It mostly feels very professional and bright, but occasionally it dabbles in being cartoony, for example the models of the leaders are oddly cartoonish and fall flat in the bottom of the uncanny valley (seriously, what were they thinking?), and normally the animations of the troops/units/buildings are quite neutral, but every now and then you get an out of place cartoony animation, like the builder repair animation.

The colours of the game are very nice too, I love how punchy everything looks, they clearly tried to make everything as clear as they possibly could, at least in how information is communicated to the player (aside fromt he busy UI).

Anyway Play Sid Meier’s Civilization VI on Steam for PC/Mac/Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.