I built a zoo in Cities: Skylines - Parklife and now I feel bad | PCGamesN

I built a zoo in Cities: Skylines - Parklife and now I feel bad

Cities: Skylines - Parklife

I get up when I want, except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by the dustmen. I put my trousers on, have a cup of tea, and I think about staying in the house to build sewage plants all day. Ahh, this is it. Must be Cities: Skylines - Parklife.

Cities: Skylines has had a number of great expansion packs since its arrival in 2015 that help to sell the feeling that you are mayor for a day. From traffic management to natural disasters, there isn’t much this game doesn’t offer you in the way of proper city simulation. And now your council has a new department: parks and recreation.

For more like Cities: Skylines check out the best building games on PC.

Not too long ago, I wrote about the Green Cities expansion pack, which was music to my vegan ears. So you can understand my excitement when I heard about a parks expansion. Then imagine the expression on my vegan face when I realised it added the possibility to create zoos - even if I have a problem with them outside of games. And, who knows, perhaps this expansion actually raises questions around the ethics of zoos.

Of the few parks I’ve built since giving Park Life a go, I’ve only built one zoo. As you can imagine, I cooed over the animal enclosures in a very conflicted way. Aww, there’s a monkey palace! Aww, look at the flamingos! It’s great to see the animals flapping around in their bright colours but the metal bars around them put a downer on the entire experience for me.

Along with the zoos, the Park Life expansion introduces eight new policies, one of which is an Animal Ethics policy.

The Animal Ethics policy allows you to give zoo animals extra care and more activities to keep them “happy and entertained.” The simple existence of the policy flags up the ethical problems of zoos and even suggests to players why zoos aren’t ethical by default: this policy costs you ten bucks of in-game currency per zoo building. That is a fair amount if you’re trying to turn a profit. In a similar way to the game Sweatshop, if your goal is only to profit, then you’ll have to make sacrifices along the way.

There is a plus side to this policy but it’s not at all beneficial to the animals - the entertainment effect it has on zoo buildings is boosted by 20%. Bargain. Do it for the entertainment. That’s all animals are good for, right?

Having a policy that gives you the chance to turn the zoo into an animal sanctuary, or to have it act primarily as a means of animal conservation - with the hopes of rehabilitating zoo animals - or protecting endangered species would be a good way to combat the view that zoos are only good for profit and entertainment. But Cities: Skylines: Parklife doesn’t go in this direction. Another route would be to have picketers and protesters encouraging citizens to boycott the zoo unless it changes its policies to become more animal-friendly. I’ve my fingers firmly crossed that Skyline’s active modding community will pick up the slack on this issue.

Cities: Skylines - Parklife

Outside of adding zoos, Parklife brings the opportunity to create new park areas - turning empty land into something profitable - with new assets, a new sightseeing bus tour, new unique buildings, and the possibility to place buildings next to paths, not just roads, in these park areas. I live in hope that they’ll bring these features to areas outside of parks one day, too. A pedestrianised high street is a dream that doesn’t feel so far fetched now.

Developer Colossal Order keep on coming up with extra content that fills a hole in Cities: Skylines that you didn’t even know was missing. But it still feels as though it’s missing something. Buildings that attach to paths, for starters. And, now that I have all of my nature reserves, green energy resources, and concerts, Cities: Skylines could really do with an updated UI - something to keep this three-year-old game feeling current. That’s an energy joke for you fellow mayors.

GOTW
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Jac Atax avatarAlice Liguori avatarFluffiepuff avatar
Jac Atax Avatar
200
3 Weeks ago

Mine doesn't unlock until tomorrow, am looking forward to building a new city with much better park spaces. This DLC might finally break my addiction to grid city planning. Hoping the parks might fill in some hilly areas as well.

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Alice Liguori Avatar
9
3 Weeks ago

I definitely broke the habit of using grids, and made many camping sites in the hills. Hope you enjoy it, let me know how it goes.

2
Jac Atax Avatar
200
3 Weeks ago

Hey Alice, now I'm obsessed with lining up tents. The DLC gives me nostalgia for Zoo Tycoon and Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Instead of being a traffic simulator it is becoming an event simulator. I really like it even though the limited functionality of the parks is a bit frustrating, it was a very welcome feature for spreading out green spaces though.

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Alice Liguori Avatar
9
3 Weeks ago

Hey Jac! I'm glad you like it, but I know what you mean about limited functionality, but I'm still glad you're enjoying it as a whole. I just hope they bring in the functionality of not having to put buildings next to roads, like they have with tents.

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Fluffiepuff Avatar
1
3 Weeks ago

This just isn't representative of real, modern zoos, though. The zoos of the past, and the roadside/unaccredited zoos of today may have been the dismal places you're thinking of, but AZA accredited zoos and aquariums are the pinnacle of animal care and are cornerstones of conservation work. As a former zookeeper, I witnessed these high standards firsthand - they focus not only on the husbandry and healthcare of the animals, but also upon their enrichment (psychological stimulation such as toys, puzzles, and training). Not only are the animals in such zoos happy and healthy, but by being kept and bred in zoos we are maintaining a sort of "seed bank" of animal life, preserving a healthy stock of all our planet's most vulnerable animals, during this time of ecological uncertainty. We're actually undergoing the sixth major mass extinction in our planet's history, though for those not paying attention it's too insidious to notice.

I do agree that this game shouldn't portray zoos in this light and that the game mechanics around that topic should work differently/more realistically. I respect you and your opinions, but I do respectfully ask that you consider what effect your words may have on the general populous, many of whom already distrust zoos due to extremist propaganda campaigns and manipulative media such as Blackfish.

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Alice Liguori Avatar
9
3 Weeks ago

Hey Fluffiepuff, thanks for your comment!

I'm happy to hear about AZA accredited zoos and aquariums, and as I mentioned I would love to to see more about conservation in Cities: Skylines rather than zoos, as they are two very different things. One is for profit, and one is there to avoid extinction.

I understand the good that conservation brings to the world, and I am in no way saying it is a bad thing. I'm against the idea of using any animals for entertainment, including zoos for profit, and circuses of course. I don't agree with bringing animals to countries where they cannot thrive, because of differing climates, and placing them in spaces that are too small for them to live comfortably, especially when there is no need to do this (again, not in terms of conservation). I understand that some zoos are accredited and I appreciate your input here, however I do hope you understand that just because some zoos are nice and appear to care about their animals doesn't mean it's like that for every zoo. There are RSPCA regulations for farms and slaughter that don't take into consideration animal rights, but rather animal welfare, and they are two very different things. Again, I am not against conservation, but I am against using animals for profit and human gain.

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