When Gaming Nexus reviewed Microsoft's Zoo Tycoon 2 just about a year ago, reviewer Ben Berry found that "eventually it can become repetitious, as there are only 29 species of animals, 45 or so buildings, and roughly one hundred challenges available." Well, if that's Ben's only concern, he will definitely want to take a look at the Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species expansion pack.
This adjunct to the original Zoo Tycoon 2 offers 20 more animals selected from endangered species lists from around the world, new 21st century attractions to pique the interest of today's more discerning zoo visitors, and a collection of new challenges.
One aspect of Zoo Tycoon 2 that Ben enjoyed was the challenge to make his zoo famous. Fame is earned through unique and customer-friendly zoo designs, and by providing access to collections of rare animals people might otherwise never be able to see in person. Endangered Species allows the zookeeper to acquire intriguingly rare creatures like the Przewalski's Wild Horse, the Florida Panther, and the Giant Sable Antelope. These animals typically live in exotic environments, so there are also plenty of new ways to design appropriate and attractive enclosures. As in Zoo Tycoon 2, the Zoopedia is available to explain any special needs these animals may have, along with interesting factoids and details about the animal and its environment. The "Ask the Zookeeper" function will ensure that you are making the best selections of enclosure environment and food for the animal you are adopting.
Modern zoos also offer far superior ways of viewing the animals in their enclosures than the traditional foot path around the fence, and Endangered Species offers three new, albeit pricey, options for the zookeeper to use to make his zoo more commercially attractive. The new modalities for a more immersive zoo visit are the elevated observation deck, the sky tram, and the Jeep tour. These three improvements each offer an enhanced viewing opportunity, but in different ways. The observation deck allows visitors to get high enough above the enclosure fence to get an unobstructed view, yet remain close enough to the animals to savor the olfactory experience, virtually of course. The Sky Tram gives a bird's eye view of the entire zoo, giving the viewer a more complete picture of the biome and the way the animals live within it. The Jeep tour, as you would expect, puts visitors right into the enclosure with the animals, allowing for a very intimate interaction. All of these can be experienced in the first-person Visitor's Mode, although one should be careful about where one decides to leave the ride. It is very easy to end up in a fenced enclosure, hunting for the exit gate. Fortunately, the animals don't attack visitors, so you'll not have to worry about the game traumatizing your youngsters.
The Endangered Species expansion pack breathes new life into an already interesting package. Teachers that are using this program in either economics or environmental awareness programs will welcome the newly expanded educational opportunities. People that enjoyed Zoo Tycoon 2 but feel limited by its options will also want to grab this collection of additional animals and zoo objects.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been fascinated with video games and computers for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat to get dragged to the mall with my parents because I'd get to play for a few minutes on the Atari 2600. I partially blame Asteroids, the crack cocaine of arcade games, for my low GPA in college which eventually led me to temporarily ditch academics and join the USAF to "see the world." The rest of the blame goes to my passion for all things aviation, and the opportunity to work on work on the truly awesome SR-71 Blackbird sealed the deal.
My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977 when they first came out. At that time you had to order them through a Radio Shack store - Tandy didn't think they'd sell enough to justify stocking them in the retail stores. My favorite game then was the SubLogic Flight Simulator, which was the great Grandaddy of the Microsoft flight sims.
While I was in the military, I bought a Commodore 64. From there I moved on up through the PC line, always buying just enough machine to support the latest version of the flight sims. I never really paid much attention to consoles until the Dreamcast came out. I now have an Xbox for my console games, and a 1ghz Celeron with a GeForce4 for graphics. Being married and having a very expensive toy (my airplane) means I don't get to spend a lot of money on the lastest/greatest PC and console hardware.
My interests these days are primarily auto racing and flying sims on the PC. I'm too old and slow to do well at the FPS twitchers or fighting games, but I do enjoy online Rainbow 6 or the like now and then, although I had to give up Americas Army due to my complete inability to discern friend from foe. I have the Xbox mostly to play games with my daughter and for the sports games.