Zoo Tycoon Preview

By Thunder

Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Blue Fang Games
Release Date: Fall 2001

System Requirements:
Windows® 95, 98, 2000, Me, or XP operating systems
Multimedia PC with a 233 MHz or higher
DirectX® 8.0a (included)
32MB RAM for Windows 95/98 and ME, 64MB for Windows 2000, 128MB for Windows XP
Minimum 250MB available HD space, 600MB recommended
Super VGA video display capable of 800X600 resolution
Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
Audio board and speakers recommended

I’m guilty. I was one of the millions of gamers who bought a copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon (RCT), but it was more to see what all the fuss was about than to satisfy my need to build monster rides. That particular game has been amongst the top ten best selling PC titles for too long to remember now, up there with the likes of The Sims. It was certainly a nice change from the raging battles of Age of Empires II, or the demands of a bustling Zeus metropolis, but it didn’t hold my interest or convince me to buy any of the expansions. Microsoft’s upcoming game Zoo Tycoon will be hitting shelves this fall, adding to the rest of the very successful Tycoon titles out there. We recently had the opportunity to take a preview copy of the game for a spin, and got to see if they’re bringing anything new to the table.

Much like its roller coaster cousin, your job is to build, maintain, or enhance a park area. In this case, you are trying to create a vibrant zoo. You go about this by adopting animals , adding attractions for your visitors, and keeping both animals and visitors happy. What Zoo Tycoon does quite a bit differently from RCT is involve you more in the building of attractions and, believe it or not, give you a little more freedom. You could build a great coaster, in RCT, and walk away from it. Each animal in Zoo Tycoon requires a little more thought and care to keep them happy, and in their exhibits! An escaped Lion or Grizzly Bear is not likely to please visitors, but we’ll get more into those details later.

When the game loads up, you have a couple of options. You can tackle one of over a dozen scenarios, which cover a wide range of skill levels, or you can play freeform.

The freeform option is a most welcome feature. It allows you to set whatever starting money you would like, choose one of three different map sizes, and construct a zoo however you wish. There really are no limitations with this option, so you run wild! This would be a great option for younger players, as they wouldn’t have to worry about scenario objectives or making their zoo earn a profit, as well as for any player who just wishes to create an amazing habitat or park. This option certainly adds many more hours of gameplay.

Scenarios & Interface »

Some fast expanding free form zoos…