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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Game Point
Animal farm

Ho doesn't like to spend a leisurely sunday afternoon at the zoo' Especially when it's winter ' when the sun is no longer harsh and when the migratory birds fly down from colder climes to allow you to catch a rare glimpse of them' Nothing beats the experience of munching popcorn while admiring the hippos sunbathe out in the open, or the monkeys busy themselves with a fresh consignment of nuts, or the tiger cubs have a field day, despite mother tigress's strong disapproval.

T's a pity though, that most zoos these days are not maintained properly. And lives for the animals in captivity can be sad. Now, not all of us can become zoo wardens in reality, and change the lives of the animals for the better. But given a chance, although virtually, wouldn't you want to give it a try' If 'yes' is the answer, Zoo Tycoon II is what needs to be installed on your computer.

Odelled largely on its predecessor, Zoo Tycoon I, the sequel puts you at the helm of a public zoo, as warden-cum-manager. It's you who is in charge of building enclosures for different animals, while keeping the animals' interests in mind. Also, it's upto you to hire the right kind of staff, who you think will do their job well.

Nce the infrastructure is ready, you need to adopt animals for your zoo and tend to their requirements. You have to ensure that they are on a proper diet, have enough free space to roam about, have access to suitable conditions for breeding, and are, above all, happy in confinement. (Remember, it also means you have to ensure proper cleaning-up in the morning, a task you can't shirk.) A flourishing zoo would mean more visitors, children and adults alike. Which would mean more money rolling into your coffers.

He more money you make, the further you progress in the game. The difficulty level increases too, since management becomes tougher with the expansion of the zoo.

Ood planning is what you need to rely on, with an eye on efficiency. While you start playing the game with common animals in a simple establishment, you can eventually go on to boast of rare creatures like pandas in your zoo. Of course, that would mean being able to successfully spruce up your zoo to a certain level, so that you meet the critical standards required for the maintenance of such rare species.

N the face of it, Zoo Tycoon is more of a money-making game, that can be compared to several other games of its genre, which let you manage and run everything from airports to railway services. You can be in it for the money. But if you are a genuine animal-lover, this game could hold a lot more for you. It would give you a cause to work for, and let you see beyond pure monetary terms. And at the end of the day, it would give you a lot more pleasure to walk through something you have successfully created with your own hands. Roar!

B>Minimum system requirements: Operating system: Windows 98/2000/ME/XP; DirectX 8; Processor: Pentium III 800 MHz or higher; RAM: 256 MB; Free had disc space: 1 GB

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