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If you're looking for low-impact, harmless fun that doesn't fray your nerves but still delivers some top-notch gaming, Zoo Tycoon fits that bill. Aside from some small glitches, it's a quality title well worth its price.
Zoo Tycoon combines the voyeuristic thrill and strategic planning of Sim City with a nice dose of learning. As you build your zoo, you'll learn about the animals' natural habitats and what they need to keep happy and healthy. Do your job well, and you'll make the park a fun place for patrons to spend money -- and perhaps earn a small fortune. Do your job poorly, and your zoo may be shut down for animal cruelty.
So, what would make you want to pick one over the other? For reasons of relevance, what would make you pick Zoo Tycoon over, say, Sim City? Personal interests. That's it. Well, maybe system specs, but mostly personal interests. Do you enjoy lions more than electrical power points? Are you more interested in tropical insects than in public transit systems? That's what the creators of Zoo Tycoon are counting on.
The bar has just been set too high for this sort of game. It's two years old, and even for that age it seems behind the curve set for simulations. As an "E: Everyone" rated title it is safe in terms of violence, but not in terms of ease of play. Kids and adults alike will end up with too many questions and moments of frustration early on to make this a re-playable game. At $50 this game is completely overpriced (compare with $20 for the same game on the PC side and you strike closer to the value).
Zoo Tycoon's fun is in building new exhibits and sculpting your park, but that part will only take you a few days. After that, the animal attraction is all but gone.