Ghost Bison and Annoying Guests-A Review of Zoo Tycoon 2

Zoo Tycoon 2 is game first released in 2004 for Windows as the sequel to the computer game Zoo Tycoon. There are four expansion packs-Extinct Animals, Marine Mania, African Adventure, and Endangered Species. A DS version out in 2008. The final version of this game, called Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection, came out in 2008, and contained the original game and the four expansion packs. This version is the one that will be talked about in this review

The main objective of the game is to successfully run a zoo or aquarium by acquiring and making sure the animals are happy and healthy, making sure the zoo guests are happy, and by building and updating the terrain, amenities, and employees to expand and adapt, all the while keeping track of finances. There are three game modes. The first is Freeform, where there is unlimited money and all animals and items, except the ones that have to be unlocked in campaign and challenge mode. The player chooses an empty plot of land, with a specific biome, and may do what he or she wishes, keeping in mind that customization of biome is possible to allow for all animals to be able to live in one zoo. For Challenge mode, it is much the same as Freeform mode, but there is a limited amount of money and unlocked animals and items. The player must get money through donations and accomplish challenges to get money or unlock items. Finally, in Campaign mode, the player is given a preexisting zoo and there are goals to accomplish. This is the mode where the player can actually win or lose.

Categories for Review:

Gameplay-7/10=The game itself is not hard to play, but there are enough features to keep one interested. With three game modes, a player should be able to amuse his or herself even if tired of one type to play. With the Freeform mode, anything is possible. One can even make what is essentially a nature reserve, without any people or fences. This is often what I did! For Challenge and Campaign modes, the tasks are clear and achievable. The place-and-drop feature works well, but the inability to pick up buildings to change their position around once placed is annoying if one makes a mistake or is trying to renovate. There are some other negatives too. The notifications, while useful, can be annoying, especially if one is going the “nature park” option, and cannot be turned off. In addition, the guests and zookeepers can be extremely irritating. Guests complain a lot, and don’t often see what they want even if it is right in front of them. To accommodate them, one must sacrifice looks and space to put in food stalls, benches, trash cans, etc. everywhere, in every nook and cranny of the park. Zookeepers are also blind, often not seeing poop, leading to many notifications popping up. Other zoo staff, such as the janitors, are also blind. Sometimes it works better to have none or very few zoo employees, which shouldn’t be the case.

Plot-7/10=This is not hugely applicable in this game. In Freeform mode and in Challenge mode, the only plot is the one the player makes up in his or her head when playing! However, in Campaign mode, there is somewhat of a plot and a main goal. Overall, it makes sense, though each campaign, except for a few, is unconnected to the rest. Therefore, there is no overarching plot.

Music-7/10=In this category, I am including various background noises and sounds as well. The music is fine, nothing special. The theme is recognizable-enough and can get stuck in your head. The background noises change based on biome, and the animals have unique noises.

Graphics-7/10=This game is not particularly great compared to the games of 2018 in in terms of graphics, but it is not a fair comparison, as 2004 was 14 years ago! The game, while looking old now, looks fine. There are no major issues with the graphics. Zooming in and out works fine fine, the animals are detailed, even if not very much, and it overall looks ok. A 2004 review of it by Carla Harker on the Gamefly website mentioned its “Improved 3D graphics”. Though, there are some graphics issues that are more sciencific inaccuracies than game issues themselves. They can be found here. However, there are some glitches. Sometimes animals and objects collide or get stuck walking in one place. The most amusing issue are ghost animals. When an animal dies, the game can glitch and the animal instead continues to walk around, just more transparent. While it can happen to any animal, in my game, it happened mainly to the American Bison!


Overall, the game ranks at a 7/10. Zoo Tycoon 2, while not complex and has several annoying issues and glitches, can be fun to play. Ultimately, this game is what you make of it. With endless possibilities, if you can get past the 2–4 graphics, this might be worthwhile for you.

One of my favorite games growing up to play starting in 4th grade-2008/2009-was Zoo Tycoon 2. I still like to play it, and if I thought that my current computer, a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, could handle it (and if it has a disk drive) I would still play it. I haven’t played the game in a few years, so I had to stretch my memory a bit to answer these questions. I also used to find the information on the release dates and expension packs, as that is something I didn’t know but felt should be included.

This is the assignment I write this for:



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