There are 20 new animals in the expansion. It was nice to find out that some biomes which were badly lacking in animals now have a few new ones (such as the Desert biome, which previously only had Dromadery Camels, and now has 2 new animals, or the Tundra and Scrub biomes, which only had 2 animals each, and now have an extra one each too.) I didn't care much for the addition of a second rhinoceros, regardless of the fact the new Javan Rhino is endangered, when there's only 20 new animals in all.
They say that endangered animals are more difficult to breed, but they all reproduced like rabbits in the few games I played so far... maybe they need to tweak this a bit.
Other New Items:
I'll have to say this was a disappointment. There are very few new items in the expansion. I think there are like 5 new small buildings in all -- no new restaurants, no new fountains, no new statues! There are quite a few new trees and shrubs, a few new animal toys, but that's about it.
The interface is basically the same as before, except for the Quick Stats window. This window, which brings up the list of animals, guests, and staff in your zoo, used to be a modal window (a window which prevents you from clicking on anything else behind it until it is closed.) Because of that, it was impossible to click on problem animals/guests/staff one after the other to fix issues in a zoo, since the Quick Stats window had to be closed in between every time. This was a major pain. With the expansion, the Quick Stats window can now be moved around the screen, and allows you to interact with items in your zoo while keeping it open. This is a very welcome change!
Sky and Jeep Tours:
You can now add Sky Rides and Jeep tours to your zoos, either inside or outside exhibits. The Jeep roads automatically add a Jeep gate to your exhibits. New items can be placed on the ground to add excitement to the tours, such as a volcano, bat cave, geyser, snow and fog machines, giant sequoia tree (the Jeeps can go through them,) mineral deposits and tunnel, rock pool...
The height of the Sky Ride poles can be adjusted, and you can choose to have a single-cable ride, or use T-poles for a two-way ride.
Once a circuit is completed (looping,) you can buy different size vehicles to add to your Sky or Jeep rides.
You can also ride the rides in 1st-person view mode. The tutorial says that you have to stand next to the station and press the spacebar to enter a vehicle, but that didn't work at all for me. I had to actually enter the station from the front or back -- right onto the tracks -- and wait for a vehicle there in order to be able to board it!
Riding the Jeeps was rather disappointing, because the cars have tinted windows which darkened all the scenary -- I could barely see anything. The Sky Ride is much nicer to ride, with a nice bird-eye view of your park.
Note that I've had carnivores pass through the Jeep gates into adjacent exhibits, to attack and devour the herbivores there.
A much needed addition to the game! Although the interface to place elevated paths is a little clunky, this feature allows you to build wooden or stone ramps, paths, and platforms above ground level. Items can be placed on them too, such as donation boxes, benches, viewing canopies, etc. The pamphlet that comes with the game says that elevated paths give more privacy to your animals than regular viewing areas.
These are protected areas in a zoo, enclosed by a special fence, where you're not allowed to modify the terrain in any way, or build on it. Animals can be placed in conservation areas, and you can build elevated paths for visitors to view the animals. This adds a little bit of challenge to a game that doesn't have much of that to start with.
There is an extra tab in the animals windows which lets you view their family history. This window displays parents, siblings, and mates -- each of which are clickable, so you can jump right to them. Neat.
The game has always been rather slow on my system (see my specs below,) but it seems even worse now, even with most grahpics options set to medium, especially when I add Sky and Jeep Tours in the zoo.
I've also had a problem where, after going from 1st-person view back to overhead view of the zoo, one of my exhibits would display incorrect terrain in places when I zoomed out, but correct terrain when I zoomed close.
All in all, if you enjoyed Zoo Tycoon 2, you'll probably want to pick up this expansion, if only to add a few extra animals to ZT2. I still think it's a shame we end up with only about 50 animals after the expansion, when Zoo Tycoon 1 had close to 60 animals out of the box, *without* any expansion packs!
With so few animals to choose from and with such little challenge, the game can get quite boring quickly. This is definitely a game designed for the younger players in mind, and will make a wonderful gift for any kids.
My System Specs:
- Intel Pentium 4 2.53GHz
- 512 MB RDRAM
- 128 MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 (latest drivers)
- SB Live! 1024 Digital sound card
- Samsung DVD-ROM SD-616T
- Windows XP Home Edition