Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 80/100

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

How long has it been since you visited a zoo? In real life it’s been way too long, but that also counts for a virtual zoo. But Microsoft and Blue Fang reminded me that animals are still looking forward to see me and visa versa of course. They’ve released the expansion pack “Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species” to take care of even more special animals and create great zoos for visitors. In my previous Zoo Tycoon 2 review it was obvious that I loved this kind of game and now lets find out if the expansion is only a reminder that you’ve still got the original somewhere or if it strongly motivated me to keep on playing for hours and hours again.

Thrilled as I was after receiving the game, the more disappointed after finding out that I wasn’t able to install it. The original Zoo Tycoon 2 was installed on another HD instead of the normal C: location / drive. The expansion couldn’t find it and therefore I had to install the original again but this time on C. That solved the problem. Of course new patches were available to run the game smoothly and ad extra features. After installing everything I was finally able to start the game to explore the extra content. The easiest way to find out was to participate in the tutorials and yes it made me smile! Not because of the new endangered species, but mainly due to the extra transport possibilities. Being not the sportiest type, it’s great to see new features such as stepping into a jeep and driving through the zoo. Or what to think of a sky tram where the visitors can take a view above the exhibits?

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The most important extra feature is of course devoted to the endangered species. Meet and take care after some of the world’s rarest and threatened animals. Make them feel comfortable at their new homes and experience their behaviour, attitudes and needs. Face new challenged by successfully breeding and conserving these rare animals. But what endangered species are available to adopt? Well, here’s your answer: African wild dog, Javan Rhinoceros, American Bison, Koala, Baird’s Tapir, Komodo Dragon, Caribou, Markhor, Crested Gibbon, Orangutan, Fennec Fox, Przewalski’s Wilde Horse, Florida Panther, Horned Oryx, Giant Sable Antelope, Spanish Lynx, Gray Wolf, Spectacled Bear, Galapagos Giant Tortoise and Wolverines. Totally understand if there are some species you’ve never heard about, but that’s another cool thing about Zoo Tycoon, it’s not just playing but you also learn something new! How do these unknown behave, what’s their origin, what are their requirements to stay alive and happy? As a zoo keeper in training you’ll learn all about it.

Not only is it going to be your task to take care after the animals. You’ll need to activate your multitasking talent also to design and construct a comfortable zoo for animals and visitors, be an accountant to keep your zoo financially healthy and profitable, be a doctor for sick animals, be a cook and serve a variety of food to the visitors and animals, etc. If you played Zoo Tycoon before, you know what I’m talking about. But, remember this is an expansion pack and includes extra’s to make it more enjoyable to do all the necessary tasks. Already talked about the endangered species, and now it time to give some credit to the new transportation methods as I really like those almost as much as the animals. You have several options when it comes on how to transport the visitors in your zoo. Maybe you’re the type who thinks that the visitor already pays a low entrance price and therefore he/she can walk all the way through the zoo on his/ her own. But I would recommend to spend some money on one of two cool transport methods; sky tram or jeep!

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The sky tram can be build almost everywhere and takes the visitors on a journey through your zoo. Build a tram station, place cable poles and let the visitors enjoy a nice sightseeing tour. You can choose single or double seats depending on your budget or number of expected visitors who wants to take the tour. Let them take a bird’s view above the exhibits to take pictures of the animals, the zoo view or the natural environment. Another good thing about the sky tram is that it even can reach places where a walking visitor normally never would come. For example if the zoo is split into two parts with a big river in the middle, the sky tram can take the visitors on a sky tour and show them the habitats on the other side of the river.

The other new transport method is to take a jeep. But first you’ll need to build a garage, construct a road and order a Jeep for two visitors or a wrangler for four visitors. A road can be placed right through an exhibit so that anybody can get really close to the animals, without a fence in between. As the road also crosses the normal walking paths, it’s crucial to place crossing gates. Walking visitors need to wait till the vehicles drove by before they can move on their own walking journey. Safety first! Or better stated: vehicles first! When animals in their exhibits are standing on the road while a vehicle wants to pass, it will hoot until the animal moved. The show needs to go on, animals can slow it down and that’s not permitted.

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So now that we have mentioned the three most important new features, it’s time to mention some other new features. Maybe not that spectacular as the animals and the two motorized transport methods but still mentioning worthy is the fact that you can build bridges and observation decks for a refreshing new view of your animals. Also you can amaze the visitors by placing erupting volcanoes, spurting geysers or even a creepy bat cave or snowing machine, which looks very cool if placed near by penguins or other icy loving animals. Of course new endangered-species-themed buildings are also included such as drinking / eating stands, fences, and statues / fountains. In terms of playing modes, there are of course some new challenges to conquer. Besides the normal challenges also new campaigns are added to the normal Zoo Tycoon campaigns. If you already conquered those, even more extra’s becomes available!

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While reading back the words I’ve written down, it’s mainly about the new extra features. Especially impressive are the transport methods and of course the new animals (just love koalas and Orangutans). But I didn’t mentioned anything about the graphics, music or gameplay. Well that’s because this Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species is an add-on. It has been released to give extra’s to what the Zoo Tycoon 2 gamer was used to. The graphics, music and gameplay may be spiced up a little bit, but mainly the extra features count. It is just great to see the endangered species breed as they’re feeling comfortable in your zoo. It’s great to see visitors enjoying your zoo creation and I loved to get into a jeep or sky tram myself to take the tour and watch everything around me and to take some pictures. A great expansion pack which is very enjoyable and not only is it a reminder that you still have the original Zoo Tycoon 2 somewhere, but most importantly it is a guarantee for creating many fascinating, enjoyable and beautiful styled zoos, which keeps you pleasantly busy for hours and hours.