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Jeremy Jastrzab
02 Feb, 2006

Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species (Expansion Pack) Review

PC Review | Expansion Packs might be endangered after this.
Earlier this week, we brought you the review for Zoo Tycoon 2. The game was released nearly two years ago but it’s expansion pack, was only released a matter of weeks ago. Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species adds a fair amount of content to a very solid package but has it fixed any of the game’s underlying issues?

Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species continues the concept of building your own zoo and the core mechanics of the game are almost entirely unchanged. The only real thing that this expansion pack does is add content. However, some of the content will change the way that you play. The game revolves around the added mechanic of an animal’s endangerment status. On top of the thirty-odd animals in the original version, there have been over twenty more animals added.

What the heck is an Oryx?

What the heck is an Oryx?
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Where as your original animals were mainly consistent of very popular and well-known animals such as lions, elephants and camels, there are now a lot more exotic animals. These include Florida Panther, Spanish Lynx, Orangutan, Spectacled Bear and even the humble Koala. These are definitely the most substantial additions that have been made to the game. As well as this, each animal now has a symbol denoting it’s endangerment status. There are four categories of status: Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable and Lower Risk.

The endangerment status plays an important role in the game. Where as you originally had the choice to construct and landscape to your hearts content, there will now be certain areas designated as conservation areas and you are not allowed to touch them. Often these conservation areas are used for housing a highly endangered animal. An important part of the game was to satisfy the needs of the animals. The higher the risk of extinction of a particular species, the harder they are to please. Basic needs are generally manageable but the Advanced needs are much harder to satisfy. In effect, this will make them harder to breed.

An endangered species is generally in much greater need of privacy. I mean, you wouldn’t want an audience gawking at you when you’re pulling the moves now would you? Now we assume that the animals aren’t susceptible noticing things above them and you have the marvel of elevated platforms. Around your zoo, you can build elevated looking areas that will allow you not only observe animals from above but get over inconveniently placed conservation areas. Some may even consider this a better way for the guests to view the animals.

Cosy?

Cosy?
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Another addition to the game that has been introduced for the comfort of your guests is the use of jeep tours and sky trams. They give the zoo a different viewing perspective and can instrumental in increase the level of prestige at the zoo, which in turn is necessary to give access to items and animals. Other than that, they’re just another possible addition to try and help your zoo along. There have also been a large amount of additions in the amount of items that you can use in construct your zoo. You can now have themed exhibits. For example, the penguins can have a tundra themed exhibit. There are also several items that will help convenience guests in terms of food and alternative entertainment as well as items that help the zoo such as a breeding centre.

Unfortunately, for all the items and animals added, there have only been three campaigns added to the existing seven. One of them takes you through the new building additions and another has to do with the endangered animals. The final campaign is mainly getting you to play with the very enjoyable photo safari mode. However, these three aren’t particularly long but they all suffer immensely from the major problem that plagued the original version and now has infiltrated this one.

For all the additions and the time that it took in development, Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species fails to address the issues that hampered it in the first place. That is, the game is unable to keep a good pace. It feels too slow and sluggish, with players often required to wait for long periods of time simply for something to happen. This is especially apparent in the early stages, when your zoo is small and has a low fame rating. Most things are locked and won’t be available until you are more famous, meaning that for long periods of time, you may have little to nothing to do. Issues such as AI are still patchy and the only form of difficulty is that scenarios can take a very (and unnecessarily) long time to complete.

Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species adds a fair amount of content. There are over a third more items to help build your zoo and many more exotic animals to choose from. There is a lot more to help cater for people’s preferences and there are many more ways that the person can play. However, the underlying game is virtually identical, the additions to the campaign are hardly substantial and the problems that held back the original have not been addressed. Whether or not it would have been better to release these additions as a patch or download off the net is definitely an issue in itself.

What ya lookin' at ya drunk?

What ya lookin' at ya drunk?
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Graphically, the game is pretty much the same as it was before. Apart from the architectural additions that will make the zoo look better in general and animal models that are more exotic than before, there is almost no change. Thankfully, the game is as colourful and vivid as ever and it runs very smoothly. Sound-wise, there has been an injection of animal sounds. There are now a greater variety of sounds that can be heard as you walk around the zoo including very distinctive Koala grunts. The music is much more lively as well.

Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species is an expansion pack that adds a lot of content but doesn’t necessarily improve the game as much as it could. For those who are still playing the original version of Zoo Tycoon 2, there is strong case for them to jump into this exotic infusion. However, the rest of us will be left wondering why this wasn’t available in a series of downloads of the net.

Related Articles:
PC: Zoo Tycoon 2
The Score
Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species adds a lot of items but not enough to the game itself. However, it's a good option for those fascinated by exotic animals and/or loved the original concept. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:
  Blue Fang Games
Players:
  1

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