reviews\ Oct 24, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania - PC - Review

Zoo Tycoon 2 Marine Mania is the third expansion pack for Zoo Tycoon 2, released 2 years ago. This expansion pack adds marine animals, tanks, marine shows and marine-themed buildings.

With Marine Mania, players can either opt for the tutorials, or jump right into the game. As this is an expansion to an already existing game, it would be assumed that players already know the basics of gameplay.  Going through the first tutorial for tanks is somewhat helpful, though, as these tanks are handled a little bit differently than other holding pens. There are several play modes, including challenge, campaign and freestyle. The challenge mode allows players to set their own challenges in a scenario, the campaign mode requires that certain goals be met during a campaign comprised of multiple scenarios, and the freestyle is a sandbox mode, where the cash is unlimited and all the buildings and animals are available instantly.

Despite the promise of several new campaigns, there really aren’t many new scenarios to play. There appear to be just two new main campaigns available (unless more show up after all the scenarios of each is completed), one that focuses on building zoos, and the other which focuses on marine shows. There are about six scenarios in each of these campaigns. Each successfully completed scenario unlocks the next scenario. So far, we’ve played through the first few scenarios of each campaign.

There are 20 new animals, all of which are very cool!  There are orcas, narwhales, hammerheads, turtles, dolphins, rays, belugas and many other species. Many of these animals can be trained in shows, and after training, can then perform choreographed events. There are female and males of each species, and each species will mate and propagate.

The graphics are a mixed bag.  The backgrounds of grass, dirt and trees are beginning to look very dated, especially as they weren’t all that crisply detailed two years ago. The water-filled tanks look better than the other exhibits, and watching the animals swim around is pretty exciting, but the animals are a little blocky in close-up view. They will also swim and walk through objects at times. As before, the view can be zoomed in and out, rotated, and players can also opt to walk around the park and interact with the animals in a limited fashion, as in cleaning up after them.

Building exhibits is a snap with the streamlined menus; all games should be this easy to use. Everything everyone needs to know is available with just a click or two, and the Zoopedia is a fact-filled extravaganza of natural information. The campaign scenarios can be managed with a handy checklist of goals to be reached, and current zoo statistics of the staff, animals, and guests are instantly accessible. There is also a running commentary of messages that runs across the top of the screen.

As before, this is a great educational game for families, and one that is truly designed to be enjoyed by a wide range of ages. It’s very easy to jump into and play, and the combination of fun activities like designing customized marine shows and the educational facts on the animals and their habitats is a winner. The marine animals are really fun to watch, especially the orcas! However, the lack of new content is a drawback at the price, which is currently advertised at around $30. For just a few new campaigns and new types of animals, plus a few buildings, this seems a bit much. $20 would have been more reasonable.

Review Scoring Details for Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania

Gameplay: 7.5
This expansion is as fun as its predecessor, but is a tad bit short on the content. The campaigns will be finished all too soon. However, the freestyle and challenge modes will add to the longevity.

Graphics: 7.0
The graphics are really beginning to look dated.

Sound: 8.0
The music is a Caribbean-style tempo and is cute and catchy.

Difficulty: Medium
The streamlined interface makes playing the game itself easy, but the scenarios vary in difficulty.

Concept: 6.0
There’s really nothing conceptually new.

Multiplayer: 8.0

Overall: 7.5
A good addition to a great game, but one which could have offered more content at the price.


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