Released in summer 2002, the first expansion pack for Zoo Tycoon is Dinosaur Digs. The original game has been a huge success, letting players create and manage their own zoo. Now gamers can build up their own Jurassic Park with this add-on.
Dinosaurs require more care and attention than normal animals. Starting off as relatively small eggs, you must hire a new member of staff, the scientist, to look after your young beast. The egg should be placed in the dinosaur's exhibit like normal. Dinosaurs need taller and stronger exhibit fences, a lot needing electric fences to show them who's boss if they get temperamental.
If you thought trampled terrain was a problem in Zoo Tycoon, you may be pleased to know that you won't have this problem with the dinosaurs. Sadly, they create an even more tedious problem. If a dinosaur gets angry, it will stamp in the exhibit and turn all the foliage in to rubble. That's why it's always best to put the foliage in last. Dinosaurs need all the same kinds of things as the rest of your zoo animals. They require large shelters, plus suitable rocks, foliage and terrain.
Once you're done with all the micro-management, you can sit back and relax and enjoy your prehistoric zoo... then you will be alarmed when your T-Rex breaks free and snacks on your guests! That's where the DRT (Dinosaur Recovery Team) comes in handy. This is a special building that you can buy and place in your zoo. If a dinosaur escapes, the staff will get in the helicopter, fly over your zoo and try to tranquillise the rowdy reptile. Despite the noise, your guests should feel more at ease with the help of this feature.
There are over 20 new prehistoric beasts to choose from in Dino Digs, including the Stegosaurus, Sabre-Tooth Cat, Giant Tortoise, T-Rex, Wooly Mammoth, Triceratops, and not forgetting everyone's favourite, the Caudipteryx. New attractions include dinosaur-themed shops and stalls such as Bronto Burger and Mammoth Ices, plus slides and swings to keep the younger guests happy. To make your zoos look more fitting, there are many new scenery items such as flaming torches, volcanoes, dinosaur skeleton remains, statues and themed benches and footpaths.
There are some other new features thrown in, such as buttons at the bottom of the screen which let you hide foliage, buildings and guests so that you can see things which may otherwise be hidden away. For those who like playing the scenarios, there is a handful of new Dinosaur Digs challenges thrown in, increasing in difficulty as before.
However despite all of these new features in the expansion pack, Dinosaur Digs still seems to be a little bit limited. There is definitely enough to keep Zoo Tycoon players busy, but for some reason, I expected more than I actually got. Still, it is a very fun expansion pack that's suitable for the whole family.
As far as graphics go, you know what you're getting with an expansion pack. The graphics are just the same as in the original Zoo Tycoon; objects are small yet detailed, with a map that you can zoom out and in too see more of the zoo, or the zoo in more detail..
Dinosaur Digs offers some nice sound effects. The dinosaur grunts and roars are realistic (if you can call a sound effect of a dinosaur that). Just make sure the dinosaurs don't get too upset otherwise you will hear the same angry shouts regularly. For the more observant gamers among you, you may notice that the opening theme tune played over the main menu is slightly longer than before.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as in the original Zoo Tycoon. Like in most games of this genre, you can rotate around, and zoom in and out. The hide foliage/buildings/guests feature is handy if want to see a hidden object more clearly.
Dinosaur Digs is a good expansion pack. Instead of being a basic "add-on features pack", the dinosaur theme is good, and nicely done. Zoo Tycoon fans should find it fun and it should keep them playing this addictive game that little bit longer. It's a good family game and the dinosaurs should appeal to the younger players in particular. It may also be enough to introduce a new gamer to the growing Zoo Tycoon series. It's not an icebreaker, but fans of management games should definitely check this one out.