Zoo Tycoon 2

Zoo Tycoon 2

Don't feed the animals - but blowing bubbles at them is OK.


The latest version of Zoo Tycoon has new play modes, enhanced environment-editing tools, more park objects, and more animals to choose from - all great additions that boost replay value and challenge you to build bigger and better zoos.


As in the original, your goal in Zoo Tycoon 2 is to build the ultimate zoo, stocking a diverse collection of animals while managing buildings, finances, and maintenance. You also need to find ways to keep your guests happy, because happy guests fill your pockets with cash.


Thanks to its three game modes, you'll find multiple ways to enjoy Zoo Tycoon 2. Campaign mode offers different scenarios: Revive a neglected zoo, for example, or take in abused animals and nurse them back to health. In Challenge mode, you start from scratch with a limited amount of money and resources, and are rewarded with additional resources as your zoo's popularity grows. Lastly, in Freeform mode, you're granted unlimited funds to run your zoo as you like - your only goals are those you set for yourself.


Animal urges. Tend to the basic needs of your animals and guests (they'll clue you into their pressing needs with emoticons that pop up over their heads), and you'll do just fine. Mistreat your animals and guests (animals will die if they don't get food and drink), and you'll hurt your zoo's rating. Animals need large, roomy areas that look and feel like their natural habitats. You create these habitats - or biomes in Zoo Tycoon parlance - with the biome brush and habitat-editor tool, which let you generate arctic, desert, forest, and tundra terrains with just a few strokes. You then add animals by clicking creatures at the bottom of the animal panel and then clicking where you want them placed. Guests enjoy tidy surroundings, spacious walkways, and quick access to exhibits, food, and restrooms. Guests also like observing a wide variety of well-kept, happy animals, and they swoon over fountains, statues, and other eye candy.


You can hire a staff to keep your zoo running smoothly. Zookeepers feed, clean up after, and tend to your animals if they happen to fall ill. Maintenance workers keep your grounds clean, much to the pleasure of your guests. Educators teach your guests about the animals in your park. All these roles are vital to the success of your zoo, but make sure you don't overdo it - a large staff means a large payroll, which can quickly eat up huge chunks of revenue.


Up close. Zoo Tycoon 2 adds a new first-person perspective, which offers a nice change of pace from the omniscient view. In this mode, you can go on photo-safari challenges to take photos of animals in action. You can also assume the role of a zookeeper or guest to get down and dirty with the animals and grounds yourself (and give your payroll a break at the same time) or just mingle with the guests and enjoy the exhibits firsthand.
While the 3D graphics in Zoo Tycoon 2 are simplistic by today's standards, we still enjoyed the sights. We didn't run into any technical glitches, but we do strongly recommend a system that's beefier than the stated minimum requirements to avoid sluggishness.


The bottom line. Zoo Tycoon 2 offers a great way learn the ins and outs of running a zoo - while having lots of fun at the same time.


Create new animal homes with a few clicks of the biome brush and habitat-editor tool.



CONTACT: 763-231-8000, www.macsoftgames.com
PRICE: $39.99
REQUIREMENTS: 800MHz G4, Mac OS 10.2.8 or later, 256MB RAM, 32MB VRAM
Simple-to-use editing tools. Fun first-person mode.
Simplistic graphics.




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