iPhone Life magazine

Pet Zoometery: Where Animals Are Dying To Get In

I feel I should state from the beginning that I am not a fan of “free-to-play” games (F2P) that are driven by in-app purchases (IAP). Some day I might just write an article about that, but for now let’s just say that I don’t really like the concept of continually paying for one game (I’m not a fan of massively multi-player online games [MMOs] for the same reason). Anyway, despite those feelings I decided to spend some time with Pet Zoometery, and while there are some features about the game that I do enjoy, in the end it feels just like any other F2P: it’s fun for a while, but ultimately gets tedious and somewhat stale.

Your job is to build the biggest, most fascinating zoo you possibly can. There’s one big twist to this project, however: all the animals are zombies! Of course that really doesn’t have much impact on the actual game play, but it does provide for some interesting animations as far as the animals are concerned. As far as game play is concerned, if you’ve played many F2P games you know the routine. You start with an empty area and start to populate it with animals, buildings, and other miscellaneous things to make the zoo look nice, and, more importantly, make money. Different animals and buildings offer you varying amounts of money in staggered time intervals. Animals provide you experience points as well. These two things can also be earned by completing more than 100 quests that are provided as you progress through the game.

There are two other items you can earn, though they are a bit more work. Brains are the luxury currency of the game and mainly come by completing certain quests or from IAP. You don’t really need brains to play the game (take that as you will) but there are certain animals and expansions that are off limits without them and the game generally flows at a much slower pace when you can’t use brains to speed things up. Food can be grown by purchasing various farms and is used to feed your special pet zombie. This zombie can be taught tricks in a special tamagotchi type sequence where you feed it, praise it for doing tricks correctly, and literally slap its head off for messing up. It’s an amusing diversion from time to time, but like everything else it gets old eventually. You also have the ability to mate animals to produce offspring and merge animals together to create entirely new species.

Building up your zoo basically requires you to select items from a menu and drag them where you want to place them in your layout. Sometimes it can be hard to find a recently selected item amongst everything else you’ve already established in your zoo. Training your animal is a matter of creating certain patterns by dragging your finger across the screen, all of which is detailed at the bottom of the screen. This part actually works pretty well. As you complete each of your missions, you can tweet about them or post them to Facebook, but there appears to be no Game Center integration at this point. The missions themselves tend to be fairly benign, like buying X number of decorations, or quite unbalanced in terms of work versus reward. For example, one mission expects you to expand the land for your zoo 10 times for a prize of 35,000 zomboleons, but each expansion costs more than the last with the fifth expansion alone costing 200,0000 zomboleons.

Overall the visuals are pretty good, and they did a nice job on the designs of the different zoombies. Some of the animations are particularly amusing. The sound effects are okay, though there is really nothing that stands out and only the pet has a unique sound to it.  Apparently zombie animals are a fairly silent lot. The music is decent but I’m not really sure that it fits the zoo setting.

Pet Zoometery is one of those games that you’ll like if you’re already into this style of game play, but it doesn’t really offer you enough to turn you onto the genre if it’s not already your thing. If you’ve never played one of these free-to-play, city-building style games before, then this is as good a place to start as any other. As for me, I think I’ll stick to the hidden object and adventure games that G5 has to offer.

Overall Score: 3 out of 5 stars

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.