Pet Vet Gets A Little Wild
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The Vet is once again in the house and she's getting wild. Everybody's favorite virtual vet from Pet Vet 3D Animal Hospital is back, only this time she is taking on wild animals from Africa in Pet Vet 3D Wild Animal Hospital.
Forget tame little puppies and kittens and take a walk on the wild side starting with meerkats and working your way up through aardvarks, leopards, zebras, lions and elephants. And I do mean work. One of my favorite things about this game (and it's predecessor Vet Pet 3D Animal Hospital) is that it does an excellent job depicting the hectic schedule of the veterinary profession (an actually of many professions - a good point of discussion with kids who think adults have it so easy).
This isn't just cuddling a couple of cute animals, giving them some generic medicine and sending them on their way. You maintain a steady stream of clients while feeding, cleaning and caring for your in-patients (including monitoring the food inventory and buying new food before you run out.)
The only way to expand your hospital and accept different species of animals is to find time for training. Training involves buying books (there are five different books for each species as well as books about the various instruments you can use and about the continent of Africa) and then finding the time to read them. Each book has several paragraphs and pictures about the subject including general knowledge and specific information that will help you narrow your diagnosis more efficiently within the game. Your kids will never notice that they've picked up the equivalent of several encyclopedia articles over the course of the game.
You also need to keep an eye on your own needs such as finding time for adequate sleep, food and leisure time (I particularly like this touch of realism, it's a reminder that's often left out of other sim games.)
The economic side of the game is pretty straight forward, earning fees for treating animals and using the money to purchase instruments, food and supplies for the hospital as well as expanding the grounds to accommodate different kinds of animals.
The understated genius of this game is the in the use of an excellently simple user interface that does a wonderful job of conveying complex processes without getting in the way of the game play.
My favorite example of this is when you receive a new patient and need to make a diagnosis. The person who brought the patient in usually utters a statement about the health of the animal that has little bearing on the final diagnosis. These may simply be randomly selected but I find it a gentle and amusing reminder that free advice is worth what you pay for it.
Once you have the animal in your examination room, you can select from an array of instruments to use in examination. You will quickly notice that some instruments are better for the initial examination while others are used to narrow the initial results and pinpoint the diagnosis. For example, you might use the magnifying glass to determine that your patient has a skin condition of some type then you can use the microscope to determine that it's a bad case of fleas.
Each examination with a different instrument yields some result (though the result may simply be that there is no obvious problem detected) which in turn is reflected in probability bars next to a list of possible diagnoses. Some cases (like fleas) are readily identified while others show a high probability of two or more diagnoses (like a cold and an ear infection) and you have to select the more likely of the two and hope it's the right treatment.
Underlying all this though are some interesting concepts like basic analysis skills and probability. Having played this game with my seven-year-old daughter, I watched these concepts subtlety percolate in the back of her mind, eventually coming to the surface in the form of questions that lead to some interesting discussions.
To my mind, average software will entertain a kid, good software will exercise academic skills, but truly excellent software will also get the kids thinking and asking the questions that give us (parents and teachers) those rare openings to valuable discussions.
Pet Vet 3D Wild Animal Hospital is excellent. It earns 4 1/2 GiN Gems and continues one of the best family title series on the market today - it's just a little bit wilder than the original.