The Oregon Trail III
The Oregon Trail, in its various editions over the years, has been a popular program in schools for years, and for good reason. It remarkably involves the player in using their knowledge and also learning and applying new information in the areas of history, social studies, geography, geology and various other sciences, all wrapped up in a fun interface.
The game opens with the player cast back into the 1800s. As the player, you are a traveler getting ready to set off on the Oregon Trail. You must first assemble your travel companions for your wagon party. You can either choose an already assembled party chosen by the program, which may not be the wisest choice since you want a good idea of the personalities and skills of your travel mates to insure your best overall chance of survival, or you can visit the local hotel and chat with a variety of potential people for your wagon party. Players may choose up to four traveling companions. These potentials come from a variety of backgrounds and come complete with various skills and resources that they can contribute to the trip.
After assembling your companions, the next step is to outfit your wagon with supplies. The player chooses to buy all types and amounts of food, medicine, clothing, ammunition, wagon supplies, miscellaneous amusements and animals for the trip. Once that is complete, it's time to hit the trail.
This game has a variety of features that make it a great learning tool for students. Players first hand get to experience what a lengthy and dangerous process it was to prepare for, and survive on the journey westward. The game allows the player to interact with characters in the game. The game features 3D graphics and full motion video, with actors portraying the pioneer characters. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds such as former slaves, teachers, nurses, farmers, merchants and other occupations appropriate for the time period. Each of the characters, when prompted, share with the player their pasts and why they wish to move out west.
Students seem to like the hunting and fishing part of the game best. If the wagon party's supplies are running low and there is nowhere around to trade items, then hunting and fishing are the best bet for survival.
One danger while playing the game is, if you miss your intended target chances are you will hit one of your wagon party companions and their health status will deteriorate rapidly. Players quickly learn about the good points of hunter safety techniques. Players may also gather vegetation from the surrounding areas, but they must be very careful about what they choose. Gathering the wrong plants without consulting the guide book can spell doom for the health status of your party. Some plants are quite deadly.
Oregon 3 requires a significant amount of problem solving. A variety of problems that faced actual travelers on the trail are set up for players to encounter. A player must decide not only the members and supplies of the wagon party, but also how to handle problems that arise along the trail. The player must decide, among other things, how to handle crossing rivers in a wagon, what to do when a party member is sick, how to manage shady characters along the trail and what to do when an avalanche has blocked their path. If a player chooses unwisely, then negative consequences are sure to follow. Through trail and error players are given life lessons of how to handle the situations that are likely to repeat themselves throughout the game.
This game is a valuable learning tool for players. It offers lessons in history, social studies, geography, science, and problem solving strategies. Players get to experience first hand the hardships of what it must have been like to be traveling and settling out West in the 1800s.
Oregon Trail 3 mixes challenge coupled with entertainment to keep your interest with excellent educational value and replayability.