Blue Fang Games and Microsoft teamed up to release Zoo Tycoon in October of 2001. The game stayed pretty close to the Rollercoaster Tycoon mold, where you are responsible for making attractions (in this case animal exhibits), keeping guests happy, and making money. There isn’t anything wrong with the formula, and Zoo Tycoon was entertaining enough to play. Now, two expansion packs and three years later, Zoo Tycoon 2 is on the horizon. Will it be the game of every zookeeper’s dreams? Or will it head off into the compost heap?
The first thing I did was select a zoo so I could make a beaver exhibit!
It’s still too early to tell. The beta copy I have is from early August, and many parts of the game don’t function correctly yet. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to research anything, my zoo animals kept getting sick for no apparent reason, and landscaping seems to be something of a mess. So I took the beta copy and mostly just used it to explore the game a little and see how it looks in its new form.
That’s right, in case you hadn’t heard yet, Zoo Tycoon 2 is going to be in 3D. That means, among other things, you’ll be able to zoom in and see the animals much better, and it also means you’ll be able to “walk through” your zoo as a guest to see it as they see it. The game includes 30 animals right now (Zoo Tycoon, by comparison, came with about 50) and they all look pretty good.
Then I moved on to flamingoes, tigers, and a big savannah mix! The rhinos were shy and stayed out of view.
However, while the graphics have changed, gameplay-wise Zoo Tycoon 2 so far looks about the same as Zoo Tycoon. Blue Fang Games is staying with the Rollercoaster Tycoon mold, and if it worked before perhaps it will work again. In one nice change, though, there will be three modes of play: scenarios, challenge mode (where you’ll get random objectives), and freeform mode (where money is ignored). That should add to the shelf life of the game, and make it easier for people who don’t want to play a game so much as create beautiful zoos.
Finally, I took care of the needs of those “other” zoo inhabitants.
Look for Zoo Tycoon 2 to hit stores later this fall.
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