Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species Review


January 1, 2006 by

Zoo Tycoon 2 Endangered Species Image

In this day in age, you can build and manage virtually everything without leaving your chair. You can become the mayor of your very own city, build an exhilarating amusement park, manage your own farm and, of course, build a safe-heaven for animals from across the globe in your famous zoo.

While animal lovers may have welcomed the original Zoo Tycoon 2 into their heart, the first expansion pack is more of a questionable purchase. The truth is that Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species expansion pack offers a disappointingly small number of new inclusions and enhancements, making it a strict purchase only for those who loved the original Zoo Tycoon 2.

For those who have not played the original Zoo Tycoon 2, both the original game and the Endangered Species expansion pack are largely played from a top-down strategic view, where you can easily place objects, vegetation and animals on a map by selecting the appropriate button on a user-friendly navigation bar. Although the game may seem daunting at first for those who have never played a similar styled game, the game comes packaged with a tutorial mode that teaches you everything that you need to know to look after your animals and make a healthy sum of money from the visitors who come to your zoo. If you grow tired from the top-down view, you can easily transfer into the first-person view, which allows you to roam around the park from the perspective of a visitor. You can also perform a range of actions from this view, such as cleaning the animal containments, grooming them or topping-up their food.

The key selling point of Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species is the inclusion of twenty all-new rare animals for you to include in your zoo projects. The list consists of creatures from across the globe, all of which are divided into four distinct endangerment levels. Theres the lower risk, for creatures who are at risk of becoming threatened in the near future. The next level up is the Vulnerable classification, which includes animals that are of a high risk of extinction in the wild. The more threatened creatures come under the Endangered banner, which consists of creatures who are of a high extinction risk in the wild. Finally, the most threatened species featured in the game is the Critically Endangered animals, which carry the extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. Depending on the endangerment level of the creature, the cost of adopting and caring for each creature increases appropriately, as does the fame of your park as you increase the number of endangered animals in your care.

Of course, the game involves more than simply throwing down a bunch of items and animals onto your map. The majority of the modes will require you to carefully budget your zoo, building on bit-by-bit as your popularity grows and the income skyrockets. These modes usually come packaged with challenges, which allow you to earn an extra bit of cash to put towards the construction of the zoo. For those who have little interest in caring for how much you spend, the game also comes with a mode that allows you to build your own dream zoo from scratch with an unlimited source of money.

Outside of the new animals, there are little new additions Endangered Species expansion pack. Most prominently there are the new ways for visitors to view your zoo, which can now be done by installing elevated pathways, sky tram tours and Jeep vehicle tours. There are also conservation areas within many of the parks, which are nothing more than a limitation to what you can do within your park grounds. While you can place animals and limited fencing within these areas, the usual abundance of flora within these sections and the inability to alter the landscape effectively renders these sections as nothing more than a hindrance.

One of the final new inclusions in this expansion pack is the addition of new challenges for you to take on. While these essentially run along the same lines as those found in the original game, the majority of the new challenges now focus on the new endangered creatures or the limited additional items that are now available.

Unfortunately, the developers have failed to look into the problems that plague the original game. The computer controlled characters are still incredibly stupid, with your zoo keepers often unable to find the entrance to different sections of the zoo. This results in the regular flow of warnings indicating that Joe the zoo keeper cannot find the entrance to the wolverine exhibit, despite the fact that he is standing right next to one.

The full list of twenty new endangered animals that complement the original animal library are as follows:
American Bison
Fennec Fox
Gray Wolf
Komodo Dragon
Spectacled Bear
African Wild Dog
Bairds Tapir
Crested Gibbon
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Florida Panther
Giant Sable Antelope
Javan Rhino
Przewalskis Wild Horse
Scimitar Horned Oryx
Spanish Lynx

While Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species does carry the appropriate expansion pack price tag, the lack of new inclusions really questions the motives behind the developers plans. The new animals and objects and the small handful of challenges makes this title a questionable purchase, making it a purchase for only big-time fans of the series.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.