Top positive review
10 of 10 people found this helpful
on 29 September 2008
This is a fantastic title, possibly one of the best creative games I have ever played - and I'm not even a kid anymore! Zoo Tycoon: Zoo Keeper Collection is a great investment, I bought it back in April, and even now it's still on my computer pretty much 24/7 and will be for a long time to come (it's now September)!
For anyone new to this format, it's basically a game where you design, build, and maintain your own zoo. There are several ways of doing this: challenge mode, where you have a specific budget and now and then you are given optional challenges to earn extra cash, for example, a company sponsor will pay you $5,000 if you breed 4 African animals in under 3 months; campaign mode, where you have to build/maintain a zoo under certain conditions, for example transform a financially unviable big cat sanctuary into a fully-fledged 5-star zoo, and finally, for those just wanting to play around with ideas, freeform mode, where you have unlimited cash and animals, and all objects are unlocked from the start.
There is so much to do in this game, and an insane amount of choice when it comes to design: there are at least 20 different kinds of fence (more are unlocked when you complete challenges and campaigns), multiple biomes (i.e. jungle, savannah, wetlands, desert) for your animals, kiosks, statues, flower beds, and you can even create themed areas - have a tundra area for your polar bear and reindeer, and a savannah-themed coffee stand and hamburger kiosk by your lions. You can even create sky tram or jeep safari tours through your zoo.
Also, since this edition is a culmination of the original Zoo Tycoon 2 and two additional expansion packs - Endangered Species and African Adventure - you are treated to an even wider range of animals, challenges and objects than in the previous version.
The animals themselves are realistic, behaving as they would in the wild. For example, female wolves will fight each other for the right to breed in the pack, and lions will stalk gazelle and other herbivores if mixed in the same enclosure. Each animal has an endangered rating, and a helpful and educational nugget of information - you learn about animals you never knew existed - and this knowledge is important in the game, since you need to make sure that the animal is in the right biome, is offered the right food and has enough toys, company and enrichment items to keep it happy. Putting a crocodile in a desert enclosure with a bale of hay, a polar bear and a tire swing is not going to make either the animal or your guests very pleased.
What's even more fun is that the animals can be named, and they can both reproduce and be traced to their family tree as long as their relatives are still in the game (they also die of old age). Many campaigns involve breeding the most endangered animals, and you can either release them into the wild or put them up for adoption. Also, in this game, rather than hover over your zoo all the time, you can revert to Guest Mode, where you can walk around in the first person and feed, groom, and clean up after the animals yourself (although the latter might not be quite as fun!). The same goes for your sky trams and jeeps; you can also ride them in the first person and take photographs.
You even have a great deal of choice when it comes to location. You can create your zoo in a city in North America, or even in the middle of the Sahara Desert or in an icy canyon near the North Pole. You can have a small, medium or large zoo, and change the landscape as you see fit by adding valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers, or just different trees, plants and rocks.
Of course, your main aim is to attract guests, who will be entertained by discovery kiosks and seeing the animals up close. You have to decide which buildings to place where, and ensure you make enough money each month and more (except in freeform mode). Even the guests have their own personalities; some will make comments like "ha ha, John Smith went into the Ladies by mistake" or "tee hee Dromedary Camel 1 spit on Jeanie Brown", and they will get upset if there aren't enough toilets, donation boxes, or places to eat, or if the animals fight each other.
This is an ideal game for young and old alike. Children will learn so much, and there is no gore or anything unsettling; if the animals do kill each other, the victim merely turns into a small pile of bones, and when they "mate", they just lie down next to each other for a couple of seconds. As for adults, it can be fun designing your own enclosures and populating it with your favourite animals, as well as the business aspect of running a financially successful zoo.
The only downside is how addictive it can become; you'll have carefully built a couple of enclosures and already 2 hours will have passed! But it is worth every fun-filled minute. Highly recommended.