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Zoo Tycoon 2

If the DS can do one thing better than any console, it’s strategy games. Real-time or turn-based, strategy games work on the DS thanks to that handy touch screen that makes controlling troops, selecting units, or placing buildings a snap. One of the latest strategy games that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying on my DS is Zoo Tycoon 2. Sitting at my desk and placing exhibits, riding on the bus and hiring staff, it’s all in a day’s work in Zoo Tycoon 2.

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The premise is simple and straight-forward: you’re in charge of a zoo. It’s your job to set up cages, place paths and bathrooms, and attract customers to your concession stands. You pick the animals too, but you have to work for them. You can start by placing flamingos and zebras, but if you ever want to have a dolphin show or even a dinosaur, you’re going to have to build a successful park, which isn’t simple. The campaign mode begins with a tutorial that teaches you the basics of the touch screen controls. After that, you’ll work your way through several scenarios, challenging you to reach certain goals, such as a certain number of visitors or earning certain rewards.

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Yeah, it’s all the typical Tycoon Game’s gameplay, but it’s still fun and addicting. I just enjoyed placing paths, statues, and trash cans. I loved being able to design my own park, including the displays inside the animal’s homes. Sadly, there weren’t a whole lot of options when it came to actual items to place – the limited memory of the DS seems to have forced the developers to limit the number of objects, people, and space you can build into. Despite this, you’re still given enough options to play around with that no one should be bored too soon.

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The game is presented in a typical top-down, isometric view. You’re given the option to zoom in close to get a close up of your animal or to more easily place items in cages and the camera also rotates. Zoos are bright and colorful and animals are recognizable. A simple BGM soundtrack accompanies occasional roars from your animals. While the presentation might not win any awards, easy menu navigation certainly makes up for any disappointments with the graphics or the sound. Everything in the game is controlled via the touch screen. Loads of shortcuts make placing items in the environments a snap, allowing you to set up your zoo in no time.

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Zoo Tycoon 2 might not be the best game on the DS, but it is a fun game that will keep your attention. Building zoos is a piece cake and there are enough options to satisfy most players. Serviceable graphics detract from the experience, as do technical limitations, but those can be forgiven. You might not be playing Zoo Tycoon 2 forever, but you should enjoy it for quite a while.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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