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Publisher: Legacy Interactive    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G4 @ 700 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Graphics: 16-bit

Zoo Vet
November 4, 2005 | Michael Scarpelli

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Where it all begins.
Edutainment is basically the red-headed stepchild of the gaming world. It's there, sure, but people don't associate with it very much. Little kids do, but they don't know any better. The stigma of edutainment is that, while educational and entertaining as the name implies, the genre typically doesn't output a product that is really going to catch the gamer's eye as a polished and accomplished piece of work, and thus it does not sell well. The other half of this vicious cycle is that because edutainment does not sell particularly well, it's difficult for it to output fantastically well-made software packages.

Enter Zoo Vet, a piece of edutainment that, like its brethren, is highly hit or miss. For fans of the genre and of the subject matter, it's great fun. For anyone looking to try out something new, they'll be frustrated by some of the interface issues and load problems that the game presents to the world. The frustrations associated with the game are unfortunate since, underneath their sticky veneer, is a game that is challenging, rewarding and educational.

The premise behind Zoo Vet is very simple. You are a zoo vet. Done. The gamer takes on the role of the new kid on the veterinary block and must over the course of the game diagnose and deal with whatever problems the animals in the zoo present. Each level consists of a single animal to treat and a level is completed when the gamer's examination has been finished, the medical problem has been dealt with, and the proper diagnosis for the issue has been given. On each level, points out of 1000 are assigned for the procedure as it's performed. A full 1000 points will net the gamer a special trophy for that particular case. The range of points in between simply affect how the zoo staff will feel about your work. Arrive close to the top and you'll get a pat on the back. Do fairly well and you'll be informed that everyone is sure you're trying your hardest. Score low enough (or simply botch the examination) and you'll be yanked off the case quicker than you can say heart palpitation.

Gamers who fail on a case are slapped on the wrist by being denied the chance to finish that particular scenario, but Zoo Vet lets them continue on, regardless. Then, the case can either be retried, or the gamer can move on to the next case. This keeps the game from getting too repetitive or difficult on an initial playthrough. In fact, the difficulty levels in Zoo Vet are well tailored to the kind of gamer likely to tackle each. For children or total medical neophytes, the easy levels will hold the would-be vet's hand through every step of a procedure. Every medical discovery will be fully explained and the next step in the process will be highlighted for the gamer to choose. The challenge is lacking in this difficulty level (it is "easy"), but for anyone seeking a glimpse of some of the challenges in the veterinary world, it's a great way to pick up trivia and learn about the kinds of afflictions zoo animals pick up.

The hard level, by contrast, is quite a challenge. The gamer faces each situation cold. There will be no help from the game other than awarding points for successes and docking them for failures. Also, tests done on the animals will not have their results spelled out in layman's terms; everything will be doled in highly technical jargon which will need to be deciphered to move on. The medium level is a nice blend of the two, with all the steps still obscured, but all the lingo made readable for Jane and Joe Average.


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