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Paws and Claws Pet Vet 2: Healing Hands

Score: 83%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: ValuSoft
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Pet Vet 2: Paws and Claws - Healing Hands are simple, yet they get the job done. Styles are decidedly European, as the game was developed in Germany, and it shows - not that this is a bad thing. You will spend your time divided between your estate and the town you live in. Your estate consists of your home/office and the surrounding grounds, onto which your clinic can be expanded. There is a surprising amount of detail here as you can zoom way in to see your degrees accumulating on the wall, and zoom out and see a large portion of your estate. When you go into town to get supplies or run errands, you'll notice quaint cobblestone streets and European-inspired buildings.

As you speak to customers or shopkeepers, you'll notice a slight European accent. Pleasant music tinkers in the background. As you treat pets, they'll respond with either a groan, if you use the wrong instrument, or a purr, for instance, if you are getting it right. Sometimes, you'll be out on the grounds and you'll get an audio clue that a customer is coming because you'll hear a dog bark or a bird chirp. That's your indicator to hurry back to greet them right after they ring the bell because they won't wait long!


Gameplay:

I must admit something right off the bat - I judged this book by its cover and I was completely wrong. I had reviewed another "animal doctor" game about a year ago and really didn't like it much at all as it came with a lot of issues which made it simply not fun. I was afraid of the same thing here, but I was completely wrong. Not only is Pet Vet 2 fun, but it's far deeper than I had originally thought.

Your character has opened his/her practice on this estate that they inherit. You begin with the estate only, consisting of a lobby, kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and treatment room. As you earn money, you can expand to build a kennel, cattery, aviary, stable and so on, to be able to treat in-patients, plus you can have a lab and purchase upgraded equipment like an ultrasound. But first, you must create a character. Pick either male or female, then customize hair style and color, then enter your name to create your profile. That's about it. Once you are done, the game begins. It functions much like a Sims title, with a top-down view of the estate. People will wander into your practice with their pets and you must greet them immediately, as they will leave after just a minute or two of standing there. Once greeted, you can choose whether or not to accept the animal. Once accepted, you are then in your treatment room, with the animal on the table. The owner explains the problem. A box comes up with four possible diagnoses and as you examine the pet, the wrong diagnoses are eliminated, finally leaving the correct one. So for instance, if the owner says her cat was limping and she thinks the paw is injured, you would use your magnifying glass to examine the paws, for starters. Most times, only the magnifying glass (observation), the gloved hand (examination), the thermometer and the ultrasound machine (if purchased) will be available. Later on, lab accessories will be available for choice. I never saw a real use to the thermometer, since you weren't privy to the animal's temp, but eh.

Once you've got the correct diagnosis, a page comes up in your PDA that explains the illness and the treatment. Follow these steps to the letter and you'll treat the patient correctly. If you use the wrong medicine, this costs you inventory and makes the animal make a sad sound. When first diagnosed, hexagons will appear on the animal in the places needing treatment. For instance, a yellow hexagon indicates the need for disinfection or alcohol, a green hexagon indicates an ointment of some sort, a blue hex means an injection is needed and a purple one indicates a bandage or neck collar must be applied. I like the fact that you simply use your mouse and color in the hexagon with the appropriate medicine, instead of a pixel hunt (as I experienced in the other game I mentioned). Once you've completed treatment, you receive a tidy sum.

Sometimes, the animal will require a stay at your facility. This can only occur if you have expanded your practice and built a facility for in-patients of that species. In-patients require cleaning of the quarters, brushing the animals, giving them medication daily, feeding them, playing with them (if you have purchased toys) and just giving them love. A happy pet insures your clients will be back and is good for business. I did find that once you have expanded your practice and things get rolling, its really hard to keep up with everything. Your practice closes at 6pm and that only gives you 3 hours (which pass very quickly) to care for the animals for the night, run to the pharmacy or feed store and replenish your supplies, and do whatever else you need to before the new day gets rolling again. At 9pm, you automatically "go to sleep" so you can't work late, even if you want to.

There's a status screen at the bottom that will tell you important info like external appointments that you need to hop into the van to take care of. You can also go to the bank and take out a loan if you don't want to wait to make enough money to expand. You can take a quick trip to the Agency and they will set up a website for you, insuring a slew of customers for a week, etc. There's also a boutique for buying clothes and a department store for sprucing up the office and your home.

You can choose the option to Ride Out from the menu and this allows you to hop on a horse and ride around certain areas of your estate. As you complete studies at the University (there are mini-exams you can take), you will be able to care for more types of animals. When you complete the 2 horse exams, you will open more routes for Riding Out. If you have an abundance of extra money, you can jump on your computer to buy a horse online, thus giving you more Riding Out options.

The game is a good bit of fun, especially in the beginning, as you build your practice and expand to build housing for overnight pets. But it does tend to get tedious as you seem to see the same types of maladies over and over. I got to where I could diagnose rhinitis or paw injuries and remove ticks without even listening to the treatment steps. But that got dull. Every now and again, a new issue would come up, but I must admit I did eventually get bored.


Difficulty:

Pet Vet 2 walks you through treatment steps and everything is done with a click of the mouse. However, the difficulty comes in when you have to click an animal 5 times to get it to register. For instance, when animals are in-patients, by clicking them once a meter comes up indicating their level of happiness. Click them a second time and the bar gets broken into their need for brushing, feeding, love, medicine or playing. Bunnies hop around. A lot. They don't stay still long, so fumbling with multiple clicks just to see their status, all the while a customer is ringing the bell and then you must run across the yard to greet them before they leave - well, it can be frustrating. The birds stay still even less. Yes, this may be realistic, but it is still highly aggravating.

Other than that, I can't say its too difficult. Sure, if you saunter over to the Academy and think you can just pay your money and take the tests to snag the degrees without ever going to your handy computer lexicon to learn about the animals, you may have a rude awakening. But overall, I think this game has an excellent level of difficulty and could be used as a learning tool for kids interested in veterinary science.


Game Mechanics:

It is with the mechanics of Pet Vet 2 that I have the most problems. As I mentioned earlier, the need to click multiple times on an animal, when you are given such a limited amount of time in which to accomplish things before another customer comes, is really, really frustrating. I can see children getting very angry with this. Also, I noticed a little bit of bugginess in treating the animals, but nothing that took away from the game. Actually, one was a help. I found that after stocking up on neck collars, my supply never depleted past 14. Good news for me! Then, when a paw injury occurred and the treatment required disinfection, antiseptic ointment and then a bandage, the hexagons for only disinfection and bandage would come up, skipping a step. Again, ok by me as it saved me money on antiseptic ointment.

By using your PDA, you can keep track of your animal food, medical supplies, appointments and so on, so you'll know exactly when Fluffy is being picked up and can make sure he is clean and well-fed before Mom and Dad come to get him. It really upset me when someone brought a pet in for treatment and I was out of the needed supplies and I hadn't even realized it, so be sure to stock up. I only wish I could hire another staff member, so that I could assign them the job of caring for some of the in-patients. Maybe I just didn't get far enough into the game, but from what I could see, it was me and me alone the whole way through.

Overall, this is a fun little game. Yes, it gets tedious caring for the same injuries over and over again, but I still found myself playing the game a good bit. Expanding your practice is both rewarding and tiresome because, although more money comes in and it's cool to see the little cat toys you can purchase and the tree inside of the aviary that the birds light on so you can clean them with a spray bottle, you get run ragged very quickly being pulled in so many directions. Little ones may get frustrated quickly, so a parent may want to be on hand until they get the hang of it. While I can't wholeheartedly recommend it because of minor issues like extra clicking needed and repetition in treatment, its still a fun game and a good value. So as long as you don't mind a few tedious issues, if you have an interest in all things veterinary, this may be the game for you.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



1.2 GHz Pentium, 256MB RAM, DirectX compatible video card, GeForce 3 (or equivalent) with 64MB VRAM with hardware T&L/pixel shader support, 600MB of free space on hard drive, Sound card compatible with DirectX, CD-ROM drive, keyboard and mouse
 

Test System:



Sony VAIO VGC-R820G:
Intel Pentium 4E, 3.2 GHz (Intel Grantsdale i915), 1 GB RAM, AMI BIOS, Radeon X300 Series (128 MB), Realtek HD Audio, Floppy disk drive, 200 GB 7200 RPM, Serial-ATA/150 Maxtor HD (24760 MB free), DVD-ROM, Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-108, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, Cable Modem

Sony PlayStation 2 NASCAR 08 Nintendo Wii Escape from Bug Island

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated