33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Addictively Fun Yet Buggy to a Fault,
This review is from: Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection - PC (DVD-ROM)
After more than six years since Zoo Tycoon 2 came to market, I finally got around to picking it up. The countless hours I have spent playing and researching about the game should say something about it's shelf life and repeated playability, something that not many video games can boast.
The number of animals and objects you can use after combining four expansion packs in addition to the original title is staggering and ensures that no two zoos you create are the same. In this title, Microsoft really did their homework when conducting research related to animal information and behaviors. Though the descriptions can be a bit random at times, the game provides a wealth of information related to each animal and more importantly, creates realistic animal behaviors in many cases. It is really interesting to see animals such as the meerkat or sea otter acting just like you would see in a real zoo. Finally, the use of public transportation for your guests also provides an interesting opportunity to make zoos with great infrastructure and they can even be fun to ride on yourself in guest mode.
While Zoo Tycoon 2 does have an extended shelf life and the ability to be replayed over and over, there are some aspects of the game that some players might find maddening. The first of which are some fairly large bugs that did not get completely worked out during play testing. One such bug is animals not eating, drinking, or playing with an object when it is right in front of them. This in turn makes them angry and causes your zoo ratings to go down. These bugs also can affect guests and zoo workers. Animal life spans offer a slightly realistic aspect to the game, however this too can often cause more frustrations than benefits. Just as you begin to get some of the more expensive animals, many of your original animals can begin to die off. To counter this, many players will essentially build self-sustaining farms. Finally, campaign mode can be quite frustrating due to very slow income rates. While it is fairly easy to afford some of the earlier animals, as the player continues I sincerely feel that he/she has to wait longer for people to spend money in the zoo. As a result, players will often never get to use the 4-5 star animals because of the hefty price tags.
There are two aspects of the game that are absolutely maddening to me. The first is the zoo keepers. Besides having a hefty price tag that will definitely cause a drain on your funds, they can be nearly worthless at times. They operate slowly, alter your exhibits by placing items you did not select, and can also be affected by bugs in the game which causes them not to operate. While this is not as much of a big deal in sandbox mode, players might begin tearing out their hair during campaign mode. The second issue is the availability of animals during campaign mode. When clicking on the animal tab, you are only given a select number of animals depending on your zoo rating. You can essentially "roll" for new animals and then wait a short loading time. This system, however, has no pattern and it ends up being like a slot machine. You will find that you are waiting for often long periods of time which also wastes yours zoo time just trying to get the animal you want.
In the end, is it worth the money? The answer might surprise you. I actually would say that yes, Zoo Tycoon 2 can offer a substantial amount of enjoyment for players despite the flaws that obviously came from a game rushed too quickly to market.