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Outside of there not being a lot of scenarios, it's hard to find a lot of fault with SeaWorld Tycoon 2. The execution of the game is flawless, with an outstanding user interface, nice graphics, smooth camera moves, and a nice 3D feel. The game even allows you to look at the park through the eyes of any guest. It's an all around good accomplishment for being an AcTiVision released title. If all of AcTiVision's Tycoon games were like this, they could rule the marketplace.
In SeaWorld Tycoon 2 there are 12 scenarios - four beginner, four medium, and four expert. However the beginner scenarios are all easy tutorials, so in essence there are only eight scenarios. There are also three open sandbox modes. The scenarios can all easily be achieved in a day. Only one is really hard - Five Whole Days (click here for tips on completing that scenario).
You play the game by placing buildings, attractions, rides, and restaurants to meet the needs of your guests. Scenarios challenge you to attain goals like overall happiness with your park, number of guests, beauty ratings, number of buildings, etc. You have several animal attractions to select from and you are responsible for "adopting" animals for your exhibit and keeping them happy. You also have shows to put on and in a few shows you actually control how the show progresses. A new "training" feature uses eye and hand coordination to determine how well the animals do the tricks. Being able to watch some of the shows (like Shamu and the dolphins) is also a nice feature.
The game is in 3D and the graphics are really nice. The user interface is especially good making it easy to get in and start playing the game without having to bury your head in the manual (which is on the CD). Because there are so many things to build and ways to manage guest happiness, the game is fun to play. Not nearly as fun as Roller Coaster Tycoon (the god of all Tycoon games), but pleasant enough to keep you entertained for a couple of days. And the price point is good too - $19.95. The game is definitely worth the cost.
There are some drawbacks to SeaWorld Tycoon 2. For one, you can't build your own rides. They are all preconstructed. In addition, the video on the rides you can actually "ride" is choppy and unrealistic. Another big problem is the research option. In every scenario the items researched appear in the same order and take awhile (even with research maxed, which you should always do) to attain. You can't select what you want to research. This is a huge drawback because while I may want to research ride upgrades, the research instead locks me into researching a new "park bench". You never get to the really good stuff (like ride upgrades) because you've completed the scenarios long before those appear. But even if you continue playing, I've never had research do any upgrades to my rides/buildings like its supposed to, but I do have a new lamp post and flag. :-)
The biggest problem AcTiVision faces with SeaWorld Tycoon 2 is finding a large marketplace. This is because many people have come to associate AcTiVision with sub-par Tycoon titles. The image of the company has been tarnished. To overcome it, AcTiVision will have to start putting the same care, financing, and focus into other future Tycoon titles as it has with SeaWorld Tycoon 2. If they can accomplish this then they may, indeed, begin to truly dominate the Tycoon marketplace and get the same recognition with their games as Atari has with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, and Microsoft with Zoo Tycoon 2.
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