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Zoo Tycoon 2 due before Christmas

But remember: a lion is for life!

Blue Fang Games is developing a sequel to Zoo Tycoon, which it aims to deliver in time for Christmas, publisher Microsoft Game Studios announced this week.

Although the 2001 original wasn't exactly a critical smash, it did go down fairly well with the kids and sold in vast quantities. It was also awarded the Bologna New Media Prize amongst other honours for its 'edutainment' values, and spawned a pair of fairly successful expansion packs - Dinosaur Digs and Marine Mania.

The sequel then is primarily concerned with giving the fans more - more animals, more info, more interaction and more polygons. The animal count has been upped to 30 with many more animations than before in a fully 3D game engine that allows you to zoom in and keep a closer eye on proceedings.

The game has also been equipped with a number of tutorials to parachute you into the job of a 'Zoo Tycoon', and the range of zoo-shaping options for potential ani-moguls has increased too, with more buildings tools (including a decent terrain-altering tool), scenery, foliage, themed buildings, animal shelters, moats and other baubles to catch the eye of visitors.

Turning the whole thing on its head, you can even dive in and have a walk around yourself in Zoo Guest mode, snap pics of animals or guests in Picture Mode, and then retire to the 'Zoopedia' if you don't know what to put on the label.

With the bulk of the game split into a structured Campaign, Freeform and Sandbox modes, Zoo Tycoon 2 should offer plenty of activities for budding zoologists, and although we do worry that you might actually learn something when you play it, it's a risk we're willing to take. We should have more on Zoo Tycoon 2 later on in the year.

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Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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