Zoo Tycoon 2
by Chris Taylor
I wrote a review of Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection, which
is the original Zoo Tycoon with a couple of add-on packs.
You can read the review at http://opcug.ca/public/reviews/zoo_tycoon.htm.
I found the program engaging and addictive. So when
Microsoft released Zoo Tycoon 2 (ZT2), I decided to give
it a whirl.
The main objective of the game has not changed. You run a
zoo and make a profit. Sounds pretty simple, right? But
it is not so easy.
As with the original game, you have to build enclosures
for the animals. Of course, the habitat must be adjusted
to suit the animals that will live there. Keeping habitat
in mind, you can pretty freely mix and match species in a
single enclosure. As an experiment, I put lions, tigers,
and crocodiles together with peafowl and ostriches. I
gave them no (other) food. To my surprise, they all
ZT2 continues in the tradition of the first release in
that everything hinges on happiness. If your animals are
happy, the guests will enjoy them more and your guests
will be happy. Happy guests hang around longer and spend
But guests need more than animals to keep them happy and
spending money. You can make your zoo attractive by
buying scenery items including benches, lamps, topiary,
and more. Your guests need rest rooms, food and drink
carts and restaurants. A gift shop or two can help your
bottom line as well.
There are three main modes to play ZT2.
A freeform game gives you unlimited funds and all animals
and objects are available for purchase. You start from
scratch and build anything you want. As you add more
animals and other attractions, more guests will arrive.
As long as you care for all aspects of your zoo, it is
almost certain to be profitable.
The next step up is a challenge game. You still build
just about anything you want and you can choose some
specific challenges, but you dont have goals you
have to meet. You can choose whatever starting bank
account you want.
The hardest is a campaign game. These games have several
scenarios, each with specific goals to complete. And
often these are very tough tasks. One example is where
you have to take over a neglected, run-down zoo. Exhibits
are filthy, animals are underfed and sick, and trash
litters the park. You are given very limited funds and it
is up to you to turn things around. If you dont act
quickly, your zoo will get shut down.
Middle caption reads: "Zookeeper can't reach the ungulate poop!"
I found playing the challenge games the most interesting.
When you have limited funds, you have to make careful
choices. While a couple of Giant Pandas might attract a
lot of guests, at $50,000 each, you may not be able to
afford them. Starting with some less expensive animals
like moose ($1,250 each) or Emperor Penguins ($2,000
each) might allow you to slowly build up to a thriving
zoo. Likewise, when choosing amenities for your guests,
you might have to start with hot dogs stands rather than
fancy restaurants. And a $560 splash fountain might be a
little extravagant when funds are short.
Much so far is quite similar to the original Zoo Tycoon.
But what sets Zoo Tycoon 2 far apart from the original is
the graphic detail. ZT2 is spectacular in this regard.
The animals, enclosures, scenery, guests, and buildings
all have a much more realistic appearance to them. This
adds immensely to the immersive quality of the game.
Not only are the overhead views more detailed and
realistic, but ZT2 adds another new dimension to running
a zoo guest mode! This zooms you down to ground
level and you can walk around the zoo just like one of
your guests. In this mode, the additional graphic detail
Not only can you act as a guest, but you can help run
your park from ground level. If you are short on staff,
you can help out by picking up trash, emptying garbage
cans and even take care of animals feeding them,
grooming them, and picking up their poop.
There is also a photo mode, where you can wander around
your zoo snapping pictures which can be saved in photo
albums. They are stored on disk as JPeg files, so you can
use them elsewhere as well.
Up close and personal
ZT2 comes with a video DVD with a whole pile of short
most are a couple of minutes long clips
about animals from National Geographic Channels
Totally Wild series. Quite educational and entertaining.
Updates to the main program, as well as additional
objects such as animals, scenery, entire themes, toys for
animals, etc can be downloaded from Microsoft to keep the
game new and interesting.
All in all, I found Zoo Tycoon 2 to be even more
interesting and engaging than the original. Highly
recommended for those who enjoy this genre of game.
Minimum system requirements: Windows 98 SE or better,
733MHz CPU, 256MB RAM, 8x CD-ROM drive, 16MB 3D graphics
Average street price in Ottawa is $50.
Zoo Tycoon 2
Approx. $50 Canadian
Originally published: June, 2005
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.