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ups: cool animals, finally elevated walkways
downs: very thin expansion, still no way to speed up the game

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Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species Review
game: Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species
two star
posted by: George Holomshek
publisher: Microsoft
developer: Blue Fang Games
date posted: 10:16 AM Thu Dec 22nd, 2005
last revision: 10:16 AM Thu Dec 22nd, 2005

Click to read.Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species is an expansion for the original Zoo Tycoon 2 in the same way that buying a new set of tools is an expansion for your garage.

Nothing has really changed, but now you have new shiny things to show off. This is Endangered Species in a nutshell; a few added toys, but nothing that really feels \"new\". The core gameplay is still the same: fence, biome, add male animal, add female animal, assign zookeeper, do it again. Afterwards you can pretty much let your zoo go by itself as you wait for the congratulations message at the end of the scenario.

And without a fast fast-forward feature in sight, you\'ll be doing quite a bit of waiting.

Yet for those who enjoyed Zoo Tycoon 2 there\'s still some fun to be had. The most obvious element is the addition of endangered creatures. With 20 rare animals - including the American Bison, Komodo Dragon, and Javan Rhino - players can have even more exotic and varied zoos than before. These endangered species also add an extra bit of challenge to the game. It\'s harder to create proper exhibits for them, and it\'s more difficult to make them happy enough to breed.

Conservation areas are another animal addition. These are fenced-off areas inside your park that aren\'t really under your control. You can place animals, food, and toys, but you are not allowed to actually modify the conservation area itself. You can also build a new sky tram or elevated path over the exhibit to help visitors get a glimpse of the rare beast. I still don\'t understand how giant concrete pillars inside the pen don\'t count as \"modifications\".

Quite frankly, sky trams and elevated paths are elements that should have been in Zoo Tycoon 2 in the first place. Now that they\'ve finally made it into the game they serve their purpose well. However, one opportunity that I believe was missed in the development of the sky trams was the idea of visitors throwing items at the animals while overhead. This would have added an extra layer in terms of employing security, or monitoring your animal\'s health. The job of doing both could become harder as you add sky trams. However, you also have to remember that the people in your sky trams are the same as the people that fork over hundreds of dollars in donations for your animals, even after you charged them a small fortune for admission, soda, and an ice cream cone.

So maybe there isn\'t any real risk of vandalism after all...

Jeep vehicle tours, appropriately sponsored by Jeep, also give guests an up-close and personal view of the animals in your exhibits. It\'s a good idea to have them travel through as many exhibits as possible if you want to maximize profits. Crossing guards are also available to keep pedestrians from having the Jeep logo imprinted on their foreheads, which is nice at crosswalks where Jeeps and people meet. Your visitors don\'t actually get run over, but the crossing guards do help to smooth out the flow of traffic a bit. You can also go into visitor mode - or FPS mode, as I like to call it - and take the tour yourself. The jeeps are a neat addition to the game and the only thing really missing is a giant Jurassic Park logo to pass under.

You\'ll need to utilize the new tools to be successful in the handful of new scenarios and challenges included in the expansion. Or for those of you who spend countless hours perfecting your zoos in free-form mode, you can now have a little more fun and make things more interesting and exotic. But beyond this there isn\'t much more to the Endangered Species expansion. If you are a hardcore fan of the original Zoo Tycoon 2, you will probably want to pick up Endangered Species from the bargain bin, but it\'s hard to recommend the $30 price tag for such a small pack of goodies.

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