We’re looking at four interesting new releases today, with a review of the new Africa Pack for Planet Zoo, a look at Police Simulator – Patrol Officers and updates on SturmFront and Roundguard
Planet Zoo – Africa Pack review (PC)
Even though they recently announced a sequel to Jurassic World Evolution, Frontier is still actively supporting the excellent Planet Zoo with new content – the most recent example of which is the brand new Africa Pack, which follows a similar pattern to previous expansions with new animals, scenery pieces and a scenario challenge.
As with other packs, the Africa DLC contains five new animals, including the crowd-pleasing meerkat. Their propensity to “pose” for pictures make them a beloved addition to any real-life zoo, and having them in your virtual park now is a lovely addition. We put a group of them near a central square, and just watched people flock to our new animals.
Other animals feel more like variations on (or subspecies of) ones that were already in the game, like the Southern white rhino and the African penguin. Those who enjoy little crawlers, or The Mummy movies, will find the scarab beetle an interesting new creature for your indoor dwellings, and rounding off the collection is the fennec fox – which looks adorable with its disproportionally large ears.
Of course the base game already had a lot of animals that are associated with Africa, as well as scenery pieces to match, but the DLC expands on this. Besides plant life there are a lot of new architectural pieces that you can place inside your park, many of which were inspired by the more populated north of Africa. The base game already had players crafting their African wilds with subtle earth tones, but now there is much more room to explore with the vibrant colors that signify other parts of the continent. Before too long, I was blending both of them together in one thematic area that allowed people to travel through the entire continent in a manner of minutes. It was super costly and mostly inefficient in terms of maintenance, but what a journey.
As with any Planet Zoo expansion pack, however, the animals are the stars of the show, and some of the new animals have very distinct behavior for you (and your visitors) to enjoy. The meerkats don’t just “pose”, they also keep digging little holes and tunnels to pop in and out of. Your new beetles, meanwhile, might be busy rolling dung balls – which I found is absolutely hilarious for younger players. The other three new species feel less distinct, though your fennec foxes are very playful, adding to how cute they are.
And it’s been a while since my last ‘live’ visit to a zoo, but all of the new animals look amazingly lifelike and are well animated too – often resulting in adorable scenes. For those not too interested in scenery building the new pack is relatively expensive and for those players it could be worthwhile waiting for a sale, but for anyone really invested in their zoo experience this is another great addon for Planet Zoo.
Police Simulator – Patrol Officers preview (PC)
Out now in Early Access, Police Simulator – Patrol Officers is the latest ‘sim’ title from publisher Astragon. Developed by Aesir Interactive with support from Germany’s FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, it takes an unconventional setting for the sim genre that we were interested to try out. Obviously, a “police sim” has us thinking of either an “all cops are crooked” type of Hollywood cop thriller scenario or a game where very little happens in the average work day, so we were curious to learn where on that spectrum the game would fall.
Taking place in a fictional US city, your task is to uphold the law with one of eight male/female characters. And initially….. you’re in “slow day at the office” territory, handing out parking tickets and catching people speeding in a residential area. Before too long you’ll get promoted to a patrol car though, which is when things get more and more interesting and quick judgment becomes as important as your actions. And while you can’t go full Denzel Washington/Training Day, you can definitely be a bad cop and hurt your standing or even lose your job. This is a game that strives for realism, so you too have to operate within the confines of the law.
As you play, more regions of the city open up, and later on during Early Access the developer will also add cooperative multiplayer to the game. There is plenty of content coming in the next few weeks and months (a roadmap has already been published), but we’re also hoping we’ll see more work being done on core gameplay elements. The controls for your officer, both on foot and in the car, feel sluggish – and the animations could certainly be smoother as well.
There is plenty here to enjoy though, and for anyone who’s not a police officer this offers some nice insights into the daily life of someone working on the job. It’s refreshing to see police life reflected in videogames beyond chase sequences and shootouts, so we’ll be keeping an eye on this one as it develops.
SturmFront – The Mutant War gets a Farewell Edition for the Vita
Back in April, we reviewed the Übel edition of SturmFront – The Mutant War when it launched for the PlayStation 4. Publisher Red Art was now launched that same game, though under a slightly different name, for the PlayStation Vita! It’s a digital-only release, and it will go down in history as one of the last games to ever be released on the handheld’s digital storefront. It’ll stay open, but don’t expect any new games for it after this summer.
SturmFront, with its arcade-inspired gameplay, is a lovely farewell from Red Art as well. It runs great on the Vita, and the colorful visuals really pop on the small screen though you can also play it on a PlayStation TV unit. You can pick it up right now at a budget price point as a farewell gift to the Vita, after about ten years of service.
Roundguard adds a free new character to the roster
Roundguard, which combined Peggle-like mechanics with dungeon crawling and has already been nominated for several awards, has received another free update for the game from developer Wonderbelly Games and publisher The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild. This latest update adds a new character called Sprig, a druid – whose magic is closely connection to the earth. With the ability to conjure up vines and creatures to help clear boards. This is already the fourth free content update for the game, which is available on multiple systems, including mobile devices and PlayStation – which is how we’ve been playing it.