Review by BloodGod65

"The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of the Ultimate Collection"

(This review is solely concerned with the merits and downfalls of the Ultimate Collection. For an individual breakdown of each title and expansion pack, please see its respective review)

As is traditional in PC gaming, once the dust has settled on a game and it has become clear that no more ideas are going to pop up for expansion packs (or nobody can figure out how to bilk customers out of a few more bucks), then it's time to release the definitive collection for the game in question. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we have here as evidenced by the games title “Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection”.

And I won't dispute that title, because it contains everything associated with Zoo Tycoon 2 in its entirety. From the base game to its four expansion packs Endangered Species, African Adventure, Marine Mania and Extinct Animals, everything is included. Blue Fang has even gone the extra mile and put all their downloadable content from the website onto the discs, meaning you'll get four extra animals (Asian elephant, Black Leopard, Musk Ox and Addax) and several more neat things aside from that.

The amount of content that has been amassed is certainly respectable. A total of fifteen campaigns comprised of forty-five different missions are available meaning players will be a long time just polishing off the main game mode. The final count of animals is in the vicinity of one hundred and thirty, which is staggering and means that you'll run out of room in any given zoo before running out of animals to pick from. That's not to mention the hundreds upon hundreds of items that are available to choose from.

One important thing to note is that all additions, changes and tweaks that have been added between expansions are also retroactive. This means while playing the base Zoo Tycoon 2 missions you can use items and animals that were introduced in the Extinct Animals expansion.

As great as it is to have everything in one package there are a few issues worthy of mention. Blue Fang never did get around to smoothing out the performance of the game meaning that there are still issues with lag. And they never did bother to add a fast-forward option which could have cut out a lot of the boring sitting around waiting for something to happen time while playing in the campaign mode.

And there is at least one major issue that needs to be addressed before you purchase the game. You might not even be able to play it. During the manufacturing stages a major mistake was made that resulted in the printing of faulty third discs. This makes the game uninstallable and therefore unplayable. This problem was apparently remedied as the game was briefly taken off the shelves and re-released. However, I bought a brand new copy off the internet and I encountered this problem, so faulty versions are still out there. If a problem is encountered, Microsoft has a toll free number to call listed on the Zoo Tycoon 2 website. However, I cannot speak for how quickly this works as the seller from which I bought my copy was aware of the problem and was courteous enough to send the replacement disc.

For anyone who hasn't picked up Zoo Tycoon 2, but is interested the Ultimate Collection is definitely the way to go. With all the expansions in one place, it is much more cost effective to get it here than hunt them down individually (and it also alleviates the disappointment of the rather lackluster first two expansions). The possibility of disc failure is a turn-off but is apparently easily remedied so long as you've got patience. All in all, an Ultimate Collection worthy of the name.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/12/09

Game Release: Zoo Tycoon 2: Ultimate Collection (US, 12/05/08)

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