Zoo Tycoon 2


by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 80/100

Zoo Tycoon 2 Review
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Blue Fang Games
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

Four years ago, Zoo Tycoon was released as the first animal strategy tycoon game and it was a huge hit as it has sold about 2 million copies worldwide. By releasing expansion packs the gamer could expand the zoo with more theme attributes and animals. But it has to stop somewhere and a new zoo tycoon had to be made for the fans. Microsoft and Blue Fang bundled their strengths for the new 3D Zoo Tycoon 2 which is now on the market. Very good news for all animal lovers and tycoon fans all over the world and I assume that they can't wait to start designing a marvelous zoo, cool accommodations for the animals and visitors and of course your main goal is to make your zoo profitable.


Gameplay
Zoo Tycoon 2 offers you three game modes: objective mode, challenge mode and the free-form game. Let's take a closer look at all three. The objective mode is the best mode to take part in campaigns and learn everything about the building and taken care of the zoo. Seventeen different missions have to be dealt with and let you build up custom zoos to achieve the campaign goals. It starts really easy with building fences and placing the correct soil in the habitats. Later on you'll learn how to make a employee responsible for a certain habitat and the animals within. If you achieve a goal, you can move on to a more difficult challenge, but again only 17 objectives are available. It's an unlocking system. In the beginning you can choose from several simple campaigns, and when you achieve them, you can unlock other campaigns.
The challenge mode is a game mode which challenges you to build a zoo with limited resources. You can choose from a minimal of animals, eat and drink facilities, flora and fauna. And where's the cash to build a cool zoo? Can I really build a zoo with all these restrictions? Yes, you can! Start very small with the animals available, build some visitor facilities (don't forget the toilets) and hope that the zoo will get a good visitor rating which makes the zoo more popular. As the popularity grows more animals and items become available and can be researched. Use these new items in the park to increase the zoo rating even more!
If you are an impatient gamer who wants it all without having cash problems or waiting for more items to become available, the free-form game is your game mode! Yes, no worries about cash as it is unlimited and all animals, buildings, facilities, flora and fauna is available from start to choose from. It is the perfect way to build the zoo of your dreams which all visitors will love.


Animals
From all over the world, animals have been selected to accommodate in your beautiful zoo. Every animal has its own wildlife wishes which need to be fulfilled. You need to choose the right flora, fauna, food and toys to increase the animal happiness. Some animals have the same desires and can be placed together. Why not put the elephants, giraffes and lions together? If the habitat offers enough space, food containers and resting places, it shouldn't be a problem to mix creatures in one habitat. Now that I'm spreading animal names which can be placed, here are some more: penguins, tigers, polar bears, flamingo's, crocodiles, apes, leopards, hippo's, jaguars, panda bears and more.

Visitors
What shall we do without visitors? Probably we need to close the zoo. No visitors, no income. You'll need to make the zoo as attractive as possible for the visitors by adopting and placing their favorite happy animals and taking good care of them. Further on you need to build some eat and drink facilities and keep the park clean. And please build enough toilets otherwise the visitors will get disappointed and don't like your park very much. The park needs to be attractive as possible to get more funds. Don't forget to place donation boxes around animal habitats to raise your bank account. By changing the entrance price and the food and drink prices you can also earn quite some nice money, but don't overdo it as high prices will not be tolerated by the visitors. Of course they buy things but the high standard of costs will not contribute to a happier guest who decreases the happiness and eventually the zoo rating.

Sound
Zoo Tycoon gamers already now that the music and sound isn't fascinating. There's always that same tune playing and it's the same as in the first part. In the park you can place some music boxes to play the tune for your visitors. The melody isn't disturbing and even the visitors are whistling the tune when they are happy. The animals of course make all kind of sounds. I loved to hear the sound of young playing animals which are so cuddly to see, and the sounds are so cute. If you zoom in on an animal you're able to hear the sounds better. Also you hear animals snore, visitors clapping and construction activities can be heard.


Graphics
Astonishing, what a difference compared to Zoo Tycoon. The new version is totally in 3D. Very cool as you now are able to view the zoo, visitors and animals from each site you want! The game is very colorful and cartoon like designed. Animals, visitors and employees are funny to see and the environment looks very realistic. Especially the flora looks very good and recognizable designed. There is a possibility to walk through the zoo as a visitor or zoo keeper to give a better view of how visitors experience your zoo and to get closer to animals to help them out in case they're hungry or filthy. Also you get closer to the amusement and drink / food facilities, but you're not able to use them though!

Extra
Compared to the first part, 2 extra features are available in Zoo Tycoon 2. As already stated, there's a zoo guest mode in which you can walk around and enjoy the game like visitors do. There's also the possibility to go into zoo keeper mode which allows you to interact with your animals as never before. Actually it is an easy way of helping out the employees by feeding, brushing, healing of the animals. Further on there's the photo mode which lets you snap pictures of your favorite animals and guests and share them online with friends. Yes, except from the title and the zoo overview picture, all others have made by me and I'm especially proud of the playing panda's. Of course the Zoopedia is extensive stuffed with all information, detailing all types of entertaining and interesting facts about animals.


Conclusion
Thanks to the 3D application, it's a big graphically improvement. The guest mode is very fun and good to do as you get closer to the animals to get a better view of what is going on. Sometimes animals do the strangest things and with a close up it's much more fun. Don't forget to take your camera on time to make some lovely pictures. The game play is much easier then the first part. I remember playing the campaign mode for weeks in the original Zoo Tycoon, going bananas that I wasn’t able to build suitable habitats for the animals or couldn’t get the perfect rating to achieve the goal. The new campaigns contain the same objectives as in the original zoo tycoon from making a suitable habitat till the breeding of panda bears. Nothing new except other animals to give a good home.
Zoo Tycoon 2 is besides fun gaming also educational. It contains a Zoopedia which provides animal information. This makes it also very easy to choose the correct tree or bush or soil for the happy animals. After playing it for a while and watching a documentary on Animal Planet, you’ll notice how much you’ve learned from playing. You know which animals to expect if you see a certain tree or other environment elements. Microsoft has announced for free downloads to get new animals and other bonus material. Already a black leopard and a stuffed gazelle-shaped dummy for big cats to play with is available for download. In this way Zoo Tycoon 2,will be enjoyable for a long time.