America's Favorite Pet Vet Goes Down Under
The Pet Vet 3D series has consistently been one of the best family titles available on the market. The series strikes a near-perfect balance between fun and education, teaching children all about animals and science while providing a fun experience at the same time. With our test group of youngsters, most of the time they didn’t even realize they were learning things while they were playing, although it was obvious that they were. This goes for the original game and the newer Wild Animal Hospital too. And today, a new standalone vet simulation comes into the fold with Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital Down Under.
Thankfully, not only does the newcomer live up to this high standard, but also brings a lot of new elements into the fold.
This time the vet has set her sights on Australia, and has built her hospital in a beautiful spot right on the water that looks better than most resorts. This prime location will come in handy later in the game when you start to treat dolphins and seals.
Like with the other games in the series, you start off slow with smaller creatures like wombats. People bring the sick animals in it’s up to you to diagnose and treat them. At first, your understanding of the animals is fairly basic, though you can still diagnose and treat most injuries. As you earn money you can purchase books. Reading those books will give you better knowledge of how the animals behave and how to keep them healthy. Each book has several paragraphs and pictures about the subject including general knowledge and specific information that will help you narrow your diagnosis. In terms of encouraging the kids to read, we can’t think of a better method than having a sick dolphin needing help and waiting for you to finish training.
Buying books is just one of the management functions of the game, which is a clever way of showing kids that being an adult means having responsibilities without forcing the message on them. They will also need to buy new equipment like pens with large amounts of water in them to treat seals and dolphins, and make sure there is enough food and medicine on hand for any emergency or extended stay.
Of course all the animals in the game are cute and cuddly, with big eyes and friendly dispositions. As you increase your reputation and skills, as well as expand your practice to be able to treat new animals, you will meet all kinds of Australian wildlife. You will eventually be able to treat koalas, kangaroos, dolphins, platypuses and seals for everything from a broken appendage to a stomach ache. And although you don’t normally think of the story in a simulation type game, Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital Down Under actually has a great script that starts out easy and slowly gains in difficulty as time goes on and your child gets more proficient. It’s different each time you play, but the ramping up process is the same.
Diagnosing a problem involves using different instruments and the scientific method. You move from the general tools to the more specific ones. For example, a magnifying glass might be used to check for fleas or a skin condition, but if nothing is found, you need to move to the thermometer to check for high temperature which might be a sign of infection. Sometimes you might not be able to determine with 100 percent accuracy what the problem is and have to make a guess based on your knowledge of the animal and experience. Thankfully your animals can stay overnight in your special pens (you did buy the correct enclosures right?) so that you can see if your treatment is working.
Animals also need love, which you give them by petting them and playing with them. You might find yourself boxing with a kangaroo or being cuddled by koalas. This not only entertains kids playing the game, but really engages them in the treatment process. And who doesn’t like to play with cool animals?
One of the best, but often forgotten about, aspects of most simulations is the human element. Sure you can be an economic whiz kid and a dutiful doctor, but when do you sleep? Thankfully this aspect is included in the game. You need to take time for yourself, get some sleep, eat right and have fun. You can have barbeques for your friends or take a leisurely swim in the crystal blue waters surrounding your hospital (complete with dolphin pals joining in). And you can even buy neat furniture for your room and new outfits to wear, a must in simulation games these days. Just keep yourself happy so you will be able to focus on the animals when on duty.
In fact, if things get really busy, you may need to hire extra help. Adding an element to the economic picture, you have to train your new worker how to best care for the animals in their enclosures. So in a sense, Pet Vet is also teaching some basic managerial functions, or at least the skill of getting along with co-workers.
In the end Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital Down Under maintains the high standards set by the other games in the series and in fact raises them. And while the game can be enjoyed by both children and adults playing alone, it’s also the perfect platform for parents and kids to play together! So we diagnose Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital Down Under as earning 4 1/2 GiN Gems, and that’s not sick at all.