Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Pet Vet 3D Wild Animal Hospital

Pet Vet 3D Wild Animal Hospital

Fall 2007 Software
Ages: 7 & Up
Publisher: Viva Media
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows

The original in this series, "Pet Pals: Animal Doctor," was a good idea, an award-winning game, in fact, that gave players virtual hands-on experience of veterinary medicine. Now, the sequel takes basically the same game to an exotic location and that proves to be a great idea. And great game.

Players take on the role of veterinarians treating wild animals brought in from the African bush and jungle-a range of species that include elephants, zebras, aardvarks, leopards, and lions. (Our first case was a meerkat with a disjointed leg.) First step is to examine the sick or injured beast, second is to diagnose the problem, third is to treat it.

Depending on which of the three levels of difficulty you choose, the game provides lots of guidance or just a little. In all levels, players must use observational skills, logic and reasoning to choose which exam instruments to use, what diagnosis from a list of likely problems (more than 100 of them in the game), and ultimately the correct treatment. When you get it right, you get a check from the animal foundation. Get it wrong and you're told to try again.

While graphics and animation aren't blow-away techie, their soft-edged 3D sim-like look has its own charms and works just fine for the younger audience the game targets. Besides, bells and whistles aren't supposed to be the killer app of this simple game, and neither is building a bigger business like in "Zoo Tycoon," caring for animals is focus here. Some animals get a shot and are sent on their way, others stay for days and have to be treated longer.

For an additional educational resource, players can read animal-fact books at the hospital between cases to bone up on the creatures they're treating-which isn't really anything like book-learning for young animal lovers who will take to this game like ducks to water.

Don Oldenburg   ©2007 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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