First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
THQ Zoo Tycoon 2 DS
- Freaking rad unicorns, lively baby animal market
- Spontaneous failure during campaign, 10 exhibit limit, low replayability
Chances are, if we got bored with the game this fast, our friends won't last long either. As much fun as Baby Animal Factory Tycoon is, the enjoyment is too short-lived to recommend.
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
Buy now (Selling at 9 stores)
It's easy to see where the "Tycoon" part of Zoo Tycoon 2 comes in – babies. More and more babies...to sell on the black market...just kidding. Sure the nature show bit is skipped, but magically, pint-sized critters sprout up in exhibits, cute little hearts over their heads. Once the hearts disappear, you're free to release them into the wild or follow your tycoon instincts and use them to make huge dollars!
Zoo Tycoon 2, a user-friendly sim, sequel to the previous Zoo Tycoon DS game, tasks players with running a fully functioning facility with cute jungle ditties playing in the background. It seems to have been visually upgraded since the last iteration and certainly the interface is worlds better than its clunky predecessor.
The simplest way to create an exhibit is relying on the animals. Build a fence (square or rectangle only, unfortunately), plop in a zebra, flamingo, elephant, or any of the 36 (including unlockables) species represented, and tap the bugger. Then click the big question mark, and he/she will tell you all his/her favourite environmental amenities, hobbies, etc. Give that chimp a banana! In fact, give it to him by hand in the all new Zoo Keeper mode, for lavishing care on individual 3D animals.
Campaign proceedings are frustrating as hell for one reason: spontaneous failure. We could be cruising along, saving the animals, boosting profits, whatever it is, and then – often right after completing an objective – when taking the next step: BAM! Insta-death. Usually a game will at least give you a notice like, "The panda is sad!" before failing you. If the patrons want more photo-ops or snacks, you'd think someone would come complain. Unless there are secret, randomly calculated time limits that are enforced only to make the campaign suck, we just can't explain it.
The Freeform Game mode, on the other hand, is a breeze. Couldn't quite pump out enough babies to send back into the wild for your Endangered Animals Centre in the campaign? Well, it's no sweat here. Speaking of pumping out babies, once you build your reptile house, your aviary, your fountains, and fancy restaurants, the main task of the game becomes breeding. Certain milestones met during normal play will award you special animals, like dinosaurs, but in order to afford them you'll need to be absolutely haemorrhaging cubs, chicks, and calves from the place.
You could say, "Excuse me, gotta get back to mating my freaking rad unicorns," but honestly, once you've done it, there's not much fun to be had repeating the exercise. You can only have up to 10 exhibits in a zoo before they stop letting you build enclosures, which isn't anywhere near enough to have all your species on display at once. Multiplayer isn't terribly thrilling either. You can visit a friends zoo or have what amounts to a zoo-off, but it's multicart. Chances are, if we got bored with the game this fast, our friends won't last long either. As much fun as Baby Animal Factory Tycoon is, the enjoyment is too short-lived to recommend.
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