If you’re a fan of simulation building games, then taking a run at building a Zoo in Zoo Tycoon 2 might be right up your alley. Downsized on the Nintendo DS you are the director, designer, and zookeeper building up the reputation of your Zoo while taking care of the animals.
Zoo Tycoon 2 is THQ’s second effort at being Zookeeper. Two years after the original release they are taking another shot at giving gamers a solid Zoo building experience for the Nintendo DS. Building Simulation games seem to lend themselves better to the PC world, but with help of the stylus building on the DS isn’t too painful. Zoo Tycoon 2 improves on its original release which new and improved changes. Making the decision to purchase Zoo Tycoon 2 is easy if you enjoyed the first Nintendo DS, howeever if you are looking for an alternative version then PC edition of Zoo Tycoon 2, I'd stick to the mouse and key formula.
The newest feature in Zoo Tycoon 2 is the Zookeeper mode. Ambitiously the Zookeeper mode brings you closer into the action in 3D with some cool touch mini-games. Being the Zookeeper means you get hands on time with the animals in captivity. You get to feed, pet and clean your animals with the vigour of a stylus champion. Petting dangerous beasts in cages might not be the best idea, but from the protection of reality, it’s the fun on the DS without the missing arm. Adding a little more interactivity using the touch screen is always a bonus with the DS platform, so it’s good the developers took time to consider adding this feature in different ways.
The graphics of the 3D animals in Zoo Tycoon 2 are not the best I’ve seen, however given the capabilities of the DS it is passable. This is one area that can not compare to the PC version. It’s almost a joke to fire up the PC version while playing the DS. Aside from not measuring up to the powerhouse of homemade PC’s, the DS chugs along in its own little way. Beside from the new attempt at 3D, the ground based top-down 2D models work fine although it’s still a little blocky.
The goal in Zoo Tycoon 2 is no different from all the other building simulation games. You have to create a well rounded establishment to attract visitor which generates cash. The more money you make the more improvements you can make to your project. Building a Zoo is the same in principles as building in other tycoon games. If you have only had time building coasters, don’t worry it’s an easy as a drink stand here, and a washroom stall there. Besides adding eateries, washrooms, souvenir carts and other money making schemes, you can also research new and better buildings, items, and even animals. It’s good to be efficient with your space, use your maintenance staff well, especially the general Zookeepers while keeping spending to a minimum until your making money and most importantly keep those animals happy.
In the main campaign mode you’ll have to complete a number of challenges each one increasing in difficulty as you move upwards. Playing through the 15 scenarios that are offered in Zoo Tycoon 2 can eat up a lot of time, but offer up rewards for the gamer who invests their time. Becoming a master Zookeeper through the scenarios will unlock new animals which include exotic and fantasy animals like Saber-Toothed Tiger and even a Yeti.
Even with the scenarios provided I have always felt the real fun of Tycoon games comes when you have free reign. In Zoo Tycoon 2 you can do this in the Free Play mode that allows you to treat yourself to play how you want, with or without a lot of help. For me achieving the dream of the ultimate Zoo is more interesting without too many restrictions. No matter what game mode you’re playing in the micromanagement is the same. Zoo Tycoon 2 is exactly what you expect in the gameplay department.
If you are the type of gamer who enjoys simulation building games then Zoo Tycoon 2 will give you a healthy excuse to build the trump palace of Zoos. If you haven’t liked “Tycoon” games in the past, don’t start with DS version of Zoo Tycoon 2. The PC still is king of the jungle when it comes to the preferred sim-gaming platform of choice, however if you have a DS its safe to pick up THQ’s second offering of Zoo Tycoon. Zoo Tycoon 2 is simple to get into, mildly challenging, fun, and somewhat educational, a perfect mix for the young gamer in the household.
Gameplay: 6, Graphics: 4, Sound: 6, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 6. Final: 5.6 / 10