From Friday’s The Oklahoman:
By Matthew Price
Assistant Features Editor
THE NEXT LEVEL
Zookeeper wannabes wait for a portable sequel to the popular “Zoo Tycoon” title is over — however, gamers will be disappointed. “Zoo Tycoon 2 DS,” for the Nintendo DS, isn’t much of an upgrade.
In the Zoo Tycoon series, gamers can build the park of their dreams. Designers can pick from dozens of animals, even exotic species. Gamers must match the correct vegetation and terrain for each animal for a successful habitat. Available animals hail from several different continents and range from ordinary to exotic to over the top. If a zoo is wealthy enough, it can even afford a prehistoric dinosaur for its collection.
Zoo designers can add educational buildings, as well as practical structures such as restaurants, gift shops and rest rooms to their parks. Keeping the zoo fiscally sound is essential for raising funds to build new exhibits and import new animals. Gamers can adjust admission prices, vendor prices, research funds and more. Gamers are also responsible for hiring staff to care for the animals and the zoo grounds.
New to “Tycoon 2” is the hands-on zookeeper feature, which allows the gamer to personally pet, groom and feed the animals using the stylus on the Nintendo DS. This feature is fun the first few times, but is nonessential to gameplay and loses its novelty very quickly.
In fact, besides the zookeeper mode and a handful of new animals, very little has changed in “Zoo Tycoon.” Graphics are very similar to the first version, released in 2006. Plus, a few new tweaks may actually make the game easier. Gamers can adjust the funds of their zoos at the beginning of the game, virtually eliminating the business management task from the game. Gamers can also start with a themed zoo, which softens the challenge of finding the perfect terrain for groups of like animals.
“Zoo Tycoon 2 DS” is essentially a redress of a 2-year-old game that was fun, but not revolutionary or challenging. With the advances made on the PC version, DS gamers should expect more. “Zoo Tycoon 2 DS” is rated E for everyone, and retails for $29.99.