Reviewed: November 7, 2006
Reviewed by: Jeff Gedgaud

Microsoft Game Studios

Blue Fang Games

Released: October 17, 2006
Genre: Simulation
Players: 1
ESRB: Everyone


System Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows 98/ME/XP/2000
  • 733 MHz CPU
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 650 MB hard drive space
  • 16 MB video card

    Screenshots (Click Image for Gallery)

  • So we design the zoo, we buy the animals, hire staff, and entertain those guests to keep them coming back as well as giving us their hard earned money. Now after we’ve learned how to do all this we can add some variety and even more fun and entertainment with the Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania expansion pack. Microsoft Game Studios and Blue Fang Games bring us the expansion to Zoo Tycoon 2 dealing with all those aquatic wonders in Marine Mania.

    Marine Mania is an expansion so you do need to have Zoo Tycoon 2 in order to play this game and you can read more about the base game in my Zoo Tycoon 2 review. Marine Mania does not simply add aquatic animals to the mix of what you have at your zoo; it’s just not that simple. Creating the tanks and enclosures for aquatic animals is a bit more complex than plopping down some fencing or filling a hole with water.

    You need to worry about a bit more than just adding the tank as these animals can quickly become exhibits for a museum instead of a zoo. You also get to train some of the new animals and put on shows along with your staff getting all the neat toys of underwater work like a sea scooter. Yes, the main game gets updates in this expansion with things like wetsuits, snorkels and even sea scooters for your staff along with tutorials, more challenges and more campaign levels.

    Gameplay is much the same as the base game with the addition of the aquatic animals along with things like training your new charges and putting on shows for your guests. This is the main interest of the new expansion and probably the first thing you think of when you hear marine theme parks. But there is more to the expansion than just adding in some animal shows using dolphins or Orca’s. There’s new landscaping as well as a whole new set of animals for your zoo and all of them do not put on shows although many do attract a good number of guests on their own.

    Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania uses the base games setup and adds in the Marine Mania features but there is a good deal to those features. There is still the three main areas that you play in; campaign, challenge and freeform. They do have an added tutorial section to learn how to use the new tools like tanks with water filters and all the added show items as well as how to train your new animals.

    They have added in new game levels in the campaign with unlocking features just like the main Zoo Tycoon 2. You start each game in the campaign section with certain objectives and once these objectives are met you can continue on to add to that zoo or move on to the next campaign level. Each one gets harder and more of a challenge as you continue to start new zoos, help out zoos in trouble or just keep your zoo from going under.

    When you complete some campaign games you unlock new games and can continue your zoo keeping adventures. One campaign game even has you photographing the shows with certain mandatory poses of animals you need to capture using the first person view along with the camera feature for a really different set of objectives.

    The challenge games are all oriented toward you starting out a new zoo with a set amount of money and some animals available. You simply start your zoo to attract new guests and from time to time new animals will become available for you to adopt and add to your collection. You will get your pick of animals from the type and location of your zoo when you choose this at the start of your challenge.

    The freeform is simply creating a zoo to your liking with all the animals and landscaping available with unlimited funding. You also have the really neat work with all the new and interesting animals they have included with the expansion. Sting rays, Orca’s, dolphins, sea otters and walruses are all there with many others. They have also included all the tank parts you need as well as the landscaping features like corals, sea weeds and kelp beds to add to your tanks to make them interesting to both the animals and your guests.

    The Marine Mania areas of expansion not only include the tank parts to add to your zoo but you can use the Marine Mania parts, animals and tanks, in other zoos to expand those zoos for added interest and revenue. So if you have already saved zoos from the base game you can certainly add on to them using the new aquatic themed animals and items. With the addition of twenty animals, the tanks and landscaping items with an aquatic theme you will have that much more fun with Marine Mania.

    Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania has the same graphics as the base game but they have added in the new animals and landscaping. They have also patched the game to fix errors and problems with the base game so when you load the expansion you will also patch it.

    The graphics look pretty good with the above water and underwater views being slightly different so you know when you are under water in the first person view. The animals still do not look as realistic as you might want but with all the animations, aquatic shows and changeable scenery the game looks pretty good.

    Marine Mania did a very good job with the tanks and being able to see the animals at play underwater looks neat. Looking through the tank to see the people standing on the other side looks really good and is a great addition to the game that turned out really well.

    They have added in some theme music that plays during your shows and the actor’s voices sound kind of odd but you get used to it when you hear all the other voices in the game. In first person view when you get near a guest or staff they mumble instead of using any real voices. The same thing happens during shows; the staff makes sounds like you would expect to hear announcing the show and what they are doing but it is unintelligible. It still works out fine and you get the drift of what is going on anyway.

    Working on the underwater sections of the game must have been a choir for the developers in Marine Mania. They did a pretty good job of making it sound like you’re underwater in the game when you do go under. That is another neat feature of the game in first person view; you can swim underwater with the fishes. The games other sounds are basically the same but sound pretty good. The sound as well as the graphics are pretty basic but work well for Marine Mania.

    If you don’t use all the available features of Marine Mania then you just aren’t interested. Who wouldn’t love to have sea otters frolic in their tank right at the front entrance to their zoo? Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania adds new aquatic animals, campaign games and landscaping items to add on to your zoo or create whole new marine parks.

    Not only do you have the addition of the animals and other items you get to train some of the animals like dolphins and walruses to perform shows during the day at your zoo. Although training your animals personally may not be that easy you can always have your staff work on it to free you for zoo management.

    That is one of the nice features of both Zoo Tycoon 2 and Marine Mania. You get the chance to do things yourself personally like groom animals, clean tanks or enclosures and care for sick animals or have your staff do it. There is also the neat first person view camera and photo album where you roam your zoo taking pictures and collecting them into a photo album.

    Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania is a great expansion to the base game Zoo Tycoon 2. The additional animals as well as features like training your new animals and having them perform for your guests is great. The added zoo locations and landscaping features make for more variety and a better looking zoo for you to build.

    Who wouldn’t like to ride on the back of an Orca or take pictures up close and personal with a great white or hammerhead shark? You can do all that and more with Marine Mania, a must have for zoo tycoon fans.