Tycoon style games have been popular for years, and it seems that no matter what the subject, they can be made fun to play, and instantly appeal to anyone who likes the genre. It's no surprise then that Microsoft have taken the idea of running a zoo, and made it in to a game.
The first thing which you'll notice about Zoo Tycoon is that it looks similar to the fantastic Rollercoaster Tycoon - the same style isometric landscapes to play on, the same style of graphics, everything - this isn't a bad thing though, as RCT had nice graphics which clearly showed what was happening, and made the game fun to look at whilst being played.
Unlike Rollercoaster Tycoon though, you don't make rides - instead you have to make the zoo, the animal enclosures, and keep the animals happy and healthy, all whilst making a profit, keeping your park visitors happy, paying your staff and building yet more areas to your zoo to keep people coming back and spending more money.
The building of the animal enclosures itself is easy, but keeping the animals happy and healthy isn't quite as easy - they seem to be on a very fine line between being happy, and turning ill, which of course means that none of your park visitors want to look, as no one really wants to see a sick animal.
Despite the fine balancing trick of keeping your animals happy, there doesn't seem much else in the game to really challenge your skill - the whole game seems to stay at a fairly easy (albeit enjoyable) level, and doesn't ever feel like it's becoming so difficult that you want to really keep trying to see if you can do better - there's something lacking in the difficult aspect of the game, and this alone could make it a short lived game for many Tycoon genre fans.
There are however all of the standard Tycoon style aspects to the game - you've got your gift shops, food and drink stands, toilets and general amenities for the park visitors, and you can spend quite a lot of time making the park look nice, so both the animals are happy, and you're park visitors find it a pleasant place to visit, going away happy, and hopefully visiting again.
One area where Zoo Tycoon will be very popular with families and younger gamers, is the animal information. Each and every animal in the game has extensive information about them, which isn't much use for the actual gameplay, but will be a huge educational benefit, especially to younger children.
A fairly enjoyable game, which will be appeal to all age groups, but sadly lacking in any real difficulty and lasting appeal for serious gamers who will soon find that there's not much more to do with the game and possibly won't find it enough of a challenge.Overall score: 7 out of 10
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: NowBuy Zoo Tycoon from Amazon