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problem solving software
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Animal Hospital: Pet Vet 3D is a simulation-style, problem solving program where the user is cast in the role of a small practice veterinarian. Working out of her house (or perhaps a clinic with personal sleeping and dining quarters), the vet has to juggle the challenges of a stream of owners bringing in possibly sick pets, and their exams and treatment, with the business end of the practice, while still remembering to get enough to eat and sleep!
New users are greeted with a short, clear tutorial that explains the objectives and program operation. Returning users can start a new "game", or continue with a previously saved scenario.
Action is centered around the vet's clinic/home. Pet owners bring in their sick animals, and the user/vet has to examine the pet using a variety of instruments and tests to make a diagnosis from a set of options presented. Once selected, a treatment course is prescribed - sometimes that means sending the animal home with medication; other times the animal may require in-patient treatment and overnight stays.
Along the way, the vet has to purchase the appropriate supplies and instruments, and study a series of "books". Correct diagnoses and treatments are rewarded with an improved reputation, which attracts more patients, and hence greater earnings and the resources to improve the clinic.
Pet Vet 3D does a good job at highlighting some of the aspects of a veterinarian's work and lifestyle. Different animals, different medical conditions, drop-in owners, variable workloads, and variable hours, are all clearly depicted. The information resources in the program are limited to high-level overviews and factoids, however, and will not be confused with true veterinary medicine resources.
Pet Vet 3D's kid appeal is based on its informational content, and veterinarian simulation opportunities. One of our young testers was interested in becoming a vet, so she found it fascinating. Another tester, although a dog lover, found the program "way too slow".
Pet Vet 3D installed easily, after typing in the 20-digit registration code, and accepting the click-thru license terms. Unlike many programs, this one is designed to be completely installed on the user' hard drive, rather than partially installed and partially run from the CD. The good news about this approach, is that you don't have to constantly hunt for the CD when you want to use the program. The drawback is the large amount of disk space consumed (343MB).
Program use is surprisingly straightforward, after initially appearing somewhat daunting. Moving around and viewing diffferent areas in the small Animal Hospital and surrounding environs is accompished with a combination of mouse clicks and rolls, or by using the bottom-of-screen control panel. Acquiring and using instruments and supplies is similarly achieved.
Our users were somewhat surprised, however, by the lack of precision and unpredictability in the location of clickable hotspots. For example, clicking on a new patient/pet does nothing, but clicking on the pet's owner gives the user the option of accepting or declining the patient.
Animal Hospital: Pet Vet 3D is a modestly rich program in the depth and breadth of pet health facts and situations presented. Patient, inquisitive students interested in pet health will find the program attractive, and will spend many hours with it as they develop their knowledge and their simulated veterinary practices.
PC: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, 800 MHz or faster cpu, 340 MB hard drive space, 256 MB RAM, 3D graphics display, CD-ROM drive, sound card, DirectX 9.0c.return to top of page
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