Zoo Tycoon 2
With Christmas being right around the corner, I admittedly don’t have the time to write a full-blown review of “Zoo Tycoon 2”. To be fair, this game was released in 2004 and chances are if you haven’t played it by now, you’re not going to. Still, I do want to give some credit where it’s due, as I’ve spent countless hours constructing and tearing down zoo parks like the Tasmanian Devil. In its day, it was indeed a fantastic game and holds up surprisingly well despite its age. It doesn’t have a widescreen option, for example, but what it lacks in functionality it makes up for in content. For the record, I own both the core game and two of the four expansions (Marina Mania and African Adventures).
In terms of game modes, the game includes a campaign, free play, and challenge mode. The campaign will direct you from level to level and task you with completing scripted objectives. The free play mode will give you unlimited money and unlocks all of the animals/objects from the start. Challenge mode is somewhat in the middle…you can set your starting money and challenges (goals/tasks) will pop up from time to time. Luckily, the challenges can be declined if you so desire, though the rewards are usually worth the trouble. You’ll need to pay attention though, as these challenges are random and don’t take into account the available objects you currently have at your disposal.
“Zoo Tycoon 2” bears some resemblance to “Roller Coaster Tycoon” in that you can click on people and objects in the environment in order to learn more about them. Clicking on a person will tell you their needs (hunger, thirst, rest, etc.), how much money they have, what their favorite animals are, and so on. There’s a lot of information to sift through, but the game sums up a lot of the numbers in easy to read reports that will keep you on task. Your ultimate goal is to keep your funds in the green and increase your park rating…though tasks and challenges may be present depending on what game mode you choose.
I won’t delve too deeply into this (that’s what the below video is for), but I will say that I still thoroughly enjoy playing this game. I particularly like the ability to walk around the park in 3D, take pictures, and interact with animals in the environment. My son got a kick out of brushing the animals and following them around when he was a toddler…it’s a shame that there aren’t many games nowadays that can claim to do that. My chief complaint about “Zoo Tycoon 2” is the lack of a time acceleration mechanic…you’re stuck in one speed, though you can pause if you need to. In the grand scheme of things however, “Zoo Tycoon 2” is a clear example of a game that will stand the test of time and then some. If you enjoy simulators (“Roller Coaster Tycoon” in particular), then give this a shot.
Final Verdict: 9/10