This is just about the ultimate sim game from a number of points of view. First, like SimThemePark and RollerCoaster Tycoon, you´ve got the whole "please-your-people" aspect. You want them to have pretty paths to walk on, easy access to food, drink and restrooms, rides and attractions to see. Your visitors love looking at animals, and the happier the animals are, the more the people enjoy their experience.
But in Zoo Tycoon, instead of "boring" rides that you merely maintain, you now have incredibly animated animals! Put in a pair of lions, and you´ll find them running around with glee, chasing each other, and lounging on rocks you give them. If you don´t give them an environment they enjoy (say arctic tundra with cactusses) they´ll pout and growl instead. If they´re content, they might even have lion cubs, that you can watch grow over time!
The game is great for kids, adults, and everybody in between. I have friends with 3 computers in their house and all 3 are running this at the same time, as each little zoo is being worked on. You can have lions, tigers and bears ... flamingos and ostriches ... black leopards and rhinos, elephants and giraffes. You can research the ability to work with endangered animals, build aviaries and other special buildings.
The scenarios are great. You take over badly-run zoos, and cringe when you see the concrete-and-steel tiny homes these poor animals had! The pleasure you get when the once-miserable animal runs around its new home, happy and content, is very real. Their free-form games mean that you can build yourself your ideal zoo, too, on any number of map-styles.
Highly, highly recommended as a game that will be enjoyed for months and months!