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24Mar 12Zoo Tycoon 2 is the Zoo Tycoon franchise's Best In Show; their shining example of tycoon-ing excellence.
It's also an unusual but welcome relief from the same-old, look-at-me-I'm-so-sophisticated, big-hitting mass-market; a little pink primitive mouse in dungarees made of strawberry ice-cream in the world ruled by identical gun-toting, sniper-suit wearing dinosaurs. I've hear about the original Zoo Tycoon, and whilst I'm impressed with the general idea of the game, the manner in which it was put into practice wasn't, due to shoddy graphics, limited freedom of movement, and selected range of terrain-modification tools. It was an awesome idea, but it had too many problems to really shine.
And that is where the successor to this Genesis that was Zoo Tycoon comes in. All the previous issues have been ironed out thanks to clearer graphics, the ability to go to ground level and tend to your animals yourself (if you're a bit of a skintflint and can't be bothered to hire a zoo-keeper), and a massive range of terrain modification options, so you can now carve out gaping valleys, erect looming cliffs, and fiddle with the geography of your exhibits to your heart's content.
And with all the expansion packs, I am glad to note that the game has continued to circulate for nigh on eight years. The Challenge mode is a very nice touch, and the Sandbox mode is fantastic for those who want to splash the cash free of the restraint of limited funds. You can also get all the animals in the game, regardless of your zoo-fame score in Sandbox mode.
The only bugbears' I have with Zoo Tycoon 2 are the seemingly insatiable guests, the mentally slow animals, and (in the Endangered Species Expansion Pack) the fencing which might as well not be there (with regards to elevated walkways)
The guests, especially when you build up your Zoo Fame, are always angry, or upset, or they think and animal is chasing them. You do get the odd contented one here and there, but the bottom line is, the vast majority of the guests are never satisfied.
The animals also have a way of being hungry/thirsty/whatever, and doing nothing about it, no matter how many bowls of food or play objects you place in front of them.
Or if they aren't busy being in critical need of something they have staring them in the face, they wander around the enclosure any which way they like. This is fine usually, but if you have animals that can swim and animals that can't swim in the same enclosure, it's almost certain the ones who haven't passed their swimming proficiency test will go and blunder into the drink, requiring you to pick them up out of the water, and wait until it happens again.
I know this isn't strictly relevant, but the Endangered Species elevated walkways are an excellent idea, but somehow the guests always manage to fall off into the animal enclosures. For the uninitiated, there's no point building higher fences on elevated walkways because they aren't see-through.
Zoo Tycoon 2, is much better than the one that went before it, but it still has problems. And to put that into metaphorical terms . . .
Zoo Tycoon 2 is not just a step-up from it's predecessor, it's climbed entire flights of stairs to get to where it is now. The only problem is that it fell over backwards, tumbled down a few stairs, and broke it's back once it got there
12Mar 12Whenever I play Spyro 2, I'm always left thinking, "Why aren't more games like this? Why did game producers ever end the excellence that is the original style of the Spyro franchise?"
My nostalgia is justified not because the of the game's technical merit. When seen through my modern-gamer glasses, I notice the appalling graphics: there isn't a single curve or gentle swoop to any feature of Spyro 2, I mean, the character of Hunter is made entirely of triangles.
And then I cast an eye over the mouth of Elora the Fawn. I have the impression that Insomniac Games recorded her voice, and then rather than trying to match the movements of her mouth to her voice, instead made her gulp like a fish and hope the footage looked like she was talking. By scientific standards, the game is poor to say the least.
But then I remove the pedantic monacle of moaning, and I remember what Spyro 2 is really about. It's not about the slaying of beasts that the Skyrim-inspired revamped modern Spyro is focused on, it's cleverer than all that. I'm not saying I don't like the Skyrim Spyro, I love gore as much as anyone, but Spyro 2 offers something games these days seem to have forgotten: humour.
Learning how to swim should be a beleaguering inconvenience, but in Spyro 2, you have an amusing bartering scenario with the pompous dodgy-dealer Moneybags, my favourite character besides Ripto. The way he coughs and asks for "a SMALL fee . . .", or says some cynical catchphrase like "the password is, AHEM - Gullible . . . " is just the sort of tongue-in-cheek hilarity we need in today's all-too-serious gaming society.
And Ripto - him and his henchmen are more like a comedy trio than an army led my a miniature dictator. Again, the catchphrases wil be remembered fondly for ever: "GULP! You ate my sceptor!"/ "WHAAATT??!!? YOU again?!?!" - it's just pure bant, I tells yer.
And all the little minigames and little unimportant quests like finding some caveman's cat or knocking monkey's out of trees add together to make Spyro 2 one of THE great classics, matched only by the likes of Crash Bandicoot 2 and Zoo Tycoon. I will probably forget my own name before I forget the sheer awesome-ness that is Spyro 2.
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