Ever fancied running your own zoo? No, I can't say it's ever crossed my mind either.
When you think about it, though, it's highly unlikely most kids grew up wanting to muck out pigs and feed chickens, yet that's hardly held Farmville back.
By comparison, Animal Tycoon 2 feels like a far more sober take on its chosen profession. Not because it follows the relative ins and outs of running a zoo to the letter, but rather because it's a trifle boring.Fatal attraction
The most surprising thing about Animal Tycoon 2, however, is that it's nothing like its predecessor.
Whereas the first game in the series played out as a puzzler, this sequel follows the SimCity formula, tasking you with planning, building, and managing your own park, all whilst trying to balance the books.
Unlike Maxis's finest, the play in Animal Tycoon 2 is broken down into set chapters, each one containing a checklist of goals to achieve before you can move on.
As such, while the game offers you a certain amount of freedom – you can place enclosures and animals both where and when you like – your progress through the level is heavily led by the objectives at hand.
That's nothing new, of course. The problem is that Animal Tycoon 2 makes waiting for said goals to be met such a flat experience.
No zoo zoom
While building attractions, hiring maintenance men, or erecting an ice cream stand or two is handled through the game's menu system with a minimum of fuss, Animal Tycoon 2 falls apart if you don't play by its rules.
Build things ever so slightly too quickly, for instance, and you'll find your bank balance drains away.
This results in the game automatically taking out a loan on your behalf which, unless you sell off half of what you've built, you'll inevitably fail to pay back in time. And that, as you might expect, is that.
Keep things tight and tame by following Animal Tycoon 2's prods and pokes to the letter, and the whole thing becomes tiresomely tedious. You'll hit your goals eventually, but doing so is a waiting game, where you'll spend much of your time moving the cursor around to pick up the money your visitors randomly leave on the park floor.Taming the beast
It all feels like a half-hearted effort, in truth. Not an awful entry in the genre, but one that borrows heavily from games long gone without adding anything of note to the formula.
Developer Softgames has ultimately focused far too hard on getting the foundations of play in place, and not given enough thought to the type of experience it produces.
Less wild than its name might suggest, then, and lacking the kind of nous a tycoon would wish to call his own.