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Saturday, March 15, 2008


Is that a Rhino in your pocket?

I had the chance to play Zoo Tycoon 2 for the Nintendo DS recently and I am pleased to say it is an improvement over the original. If you like animals and like to get up close and personal with them, then you'll enjoy this update over the original DS offering.

The first thing you'll notice is that you can actually interact with the animals in 3D in a series of mini games that let you groom them, feed them, pet them and care for them when they're sick. The animals will react to your treatment in fun ways, but be aware that the animals will not walk away and you cannot stroll through the zoo like you can in the PC version of Zoo Tycoon 2. Also, the interaction is a far cry from the level of play in Nintendogs.

The animal collector card system has been updated as well. Instead of buying cards blindly like you did in the original game, the cards are earned by placing the animal in your zoo. Pretty easy, huh? Clicking on an earned card lets you view the animal in 3D where you can view the animal from all angles and make it play all of the animations for the beasts.

There are other unlockables in the game which are fairly straightforward. Most of the unlockables will be achieved by earning awards in the campaign game. Those that you can't earn in the campaign game you can earn in this manner:

Step 1: Make a freeform zoo.
Step 2: Add animals and get the zoo up the the maximum (7 star) rating - if you've completed the campaign series, this will be second nature to you.
Step 3: Plug your DS into a wall outlet and leave it on for a few hours. Check periodically and replace any animals that die of old age.

That's it. All you have to do is sit and let your zoo run until you hit the 50 year milestone and you will have unlocked all of the remaining awards.

Sadly, this game does not have much in the way of replayability. In spite of the fact that there are a variety of animals, all of the exhibits feel the same. Once I had done it all (see above) I really didn't want to play anymore. Which is a big strike against any game in my opinion.

In summary, Zoo Tycoon 2 is a vast improvement over the original. This game is far more playable and the interaction with the animals is a nice plus. If you love exotic animals, you might want to give this game a try.

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