Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania

Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Blue Fang Games
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Price £19.99
Out No

A few months ago now it was announced that Zoo Tycoon and it's first expansion pack, Dinosaur Digs, had sold a total of one million copies. With all the hype that surrounds most of the big console titles and PC games such as The Sims, it is refreshing to know that a game can sell well even if it hasn't been hyped to the moon. Zoo Tycoon puts you in charge of a zoo, Dinosaur Digs add a fictitious, prehistoric flavour to the game and now we finally have some aquatic animals to add to our zoos too, thanks to Marine Mania.

Of course Marine Mania doesn't simply just offer extra animals for you to cater for, it also adds some welcome features to the game. These features are concerned with aquatic shows. Want to set up some exhibit tanks and marine shows for your customers? With Marine Mania it's possible. You can make the dolphins, Orcas etc., flip, spin and play with toys to please the audience. Unlike Dinosaur Digs which added a fantasy element to the game, Marine Mania keeps it realistic and serves to make your zoo a more complete experience for your customers.

All in all there are 20 new marine animals. Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas, Great White Sharks, California Sea Lions, Sea Otter and many more have been included that will please fantasy zoologists out there. To help you look after these animals a marine specialist has been included and is essentially a zoo keeper for the marine animals. As with the original game, Marine Mania offers you plenty of depth in terms of providing you with all the materials you need to look after the animals and keep them happy. You can even install tanks filters to keep the water clean.

Of course the game comes with some extra maps to add more variety to the Freeform mode and also includes 10 scenarios that are based around the marine animals. Some of you will be pleased to know that there are no time constraints on some of these so you'll have no excuses for not getting things right. The developers have also thoughtfully included three short tutorials to bring you up to speed on the new features.

Other new features include the ability to assign tasks to your maintenance workers. This helps you manage your zoo far more effectively and in a more controlled manner. You can also move guests now too. If a guest has wondered somewhere they shouldn't, then you can simply pick them up and drop them somewhere safe. Also just in case you wanted to remind yourself of what has been researched by your zoo you can now do so. This feature doesn't really add anything but it is nice to see the progress you've made.

Graphically nothing has changed from the original game. Of course with new animals and exhibits and attractions etc., the game looks more colourful now but on the whole things have remained the same. To be perfectly honest though this is a data disk and you're not going to get changes of this magnitude. The 2D game engine is perfectly fine for the game though and at the end of the day that's all that matters.

Like Zoo Tycoon itself, Marine Mania is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. If any fault could be picked with the game it is that the audio is rather weak and sparsely used. The only real noises that a deaf gamer misses out on are the animal noises so if you can live with that there are no problems at all. There is no speech used in the game and all instruction, information and messages are supplied completely in text and can be recalled at any time.

Marine Mania achieves what an expansion pack is supposed to do in that it rounds off the main game rather nicely. Zoo Tycoon is a more complete game with the marine animals added as well as the new features this pack brings. If you already own Zoo Tycoon and enjoy playing it, Marine Mania must be seen as an essential purchase.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10 The perfect compliment to Zoo Tycoon.

Deaf Gamers comment: Perfectly accessible for deaf gamers.