Extinct Animals is the latest expansion for the popular Zoo Tycoon 2 series. For anyone unfamiliar with Zoo Tycoon, you take control of a zoo, which creates an interesting balance of tycoon style management mixed with nurturing cute and not so cute animals. The game seemed very much aimed at a younger audience and won many family-oriented awards for its educational value. It was not only a game but also an encyclopaedia, containing a wealth of information about all the animals within the game. Despite its younger leaning in style and execution, it is still a fun and addictive building/management game for all ages and the ability to walk around your zoo in first person mode is a novelty. You can even take snap shots to make up a photo album of your zoo.
The game probably doesn’t deserve any awards for graphics though. The graphics look a little dated these days but once the addictive game play kicks in, it becomes secondary as there are plenty of things to keep you occupied.
This is the fourth expansion for the series, not including the Dino-Danger add on which was available for download. Extinct Animals contains all the content from Dino- Danger, plus a whole lot more. It is the largest expansion to date and offers over 30 new extinct animals to add to your zoo, including the mighty. Rex, the dodo bird and even random new entertainers who dance around in costumes to wow the crowd. Basically you can
now transform your humble city zoo into Jurassic park, complete with rampaging dinos, nerdy scientists in white coats, fossil research and even a tranquilliser gun when a cranky dinosaur won’t listen to reason.
Extinct Animals also introduces many new mini games, such as the construction of fossils from rock pieces that you find in your zoo. Many of the mini games utilise the first person view more than previous expansions. For a start, in order to find the fossil pieces to construct a dinosaur you are required
to run around your zoowith a fossil finding device, which is basically like a pimped out metal detector. Then of course if one of your dinosaurs gets a little too cranky, you can chase him around in simplified first person shooter style and pop a tranquilliser in his prehistoric butt. It is an amusing little distraction but many of the mini games really feel like they are geared towards children so anyone over the age of 12 will likely tire of them quickly. Fortunately though, just like any good tycoon should, you simply hire others to do the dirty work for you. Palaeontologists will dig up fossil pieces and the dino-containment team run around in crazy coloured outfits to do the dinosaur wrangling.
The core of the addictive game play of Zoo Tycoon 2 remains in tact but now with the addition of bigger and grumpier exhibits to add to your zoo. Keep in mind though that the bigger the animal, the bigger the trouble so a dinosaur on the rampage can make a mess of your zoo.
The addition of Dinosaurs to Zoo Tycoon 2 will probably not appeal to everyone but for those looking to add a bit of Dino sized challenge and danger to their collection then you can’t go past this release.
Zoo Tycoon 2 has a very broad appeal as there is something for all age groups to appreciate and the Extinct Animals Expansion adds exactly what you would expect: Dinosaurs, big walls and a few new buildings and extra characters. The mini games have limited appeal but most are not necessary to the smooth running of your park, leaving you free for all the other fun stuff. And for those already planning to feed a meerkat to a lion, then feeding the lion to a T Rex... but keep in mind this is probably not an effective way of running your zoo, no matter how tempting it is to try.