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Trauma Center: Under the Knife: Knife Life

Company: Atlus

Trauma Center: Under the Knife is just the type of quirky title you'd expect from Atlus and, like Kirby: Canvas Curse, one of those games that could only be done on the DS. After some hands on time with the full game (look for a full review soon), its clear that Trauma Center is on pace to join the list of ?Must Have? titles coming out for the DS.

You play as Dr. Derek Stiles, a hotshot rookie doctor at Hope Hospital. Even though he?s new, Derek has a bit of a confidence problem, and he?s a bit careless at times as well ? setting up one of the many storylines that appear throughout the game. In the first chapter, Derek is joined by Mary Fulton, a veteran nurse at Hope who has taken Derek under her wing in order to boost his confidence and groom him into a good surgeon.


The DS's touch screen and stylus are your main tools as you dig around a patient's body. During a standard operation you'll have access to a variety of tools to help you diagnose all sorts of medical problems. These include a scalpel, stitches and assorted medications. Further down the line you?ll get to use more advanced tools like a laser.

During the first chapter, Mary acts as your trainer. While it?s a little odd to have a nurse ordering a doctor around, Mary?s advice is very useful ? so it?s best to listen to everything she says. Operations play out in more of an arcade-style fashion, giving the game it?s unique flair.


In your first operation, you?ll have to patch up someone who was injured in a car accident. You begin by cleaning up the wound, and patching up any smaller wounds. Then it?s time to move on to the bigger injuries, which in this case are shards of glass that have become lodged in the victim?s chest. All procedures are handled through the use of the touch screen, with all the tools you need lined up along the side. Clicking on one of the icons turns the stylus into that tool; so choosing the scalpel turns it into a scalpel. Each tool uses the stylus in a different way. Using the scalpel let?s you cut into patients with a slash, while stitching up wounds requires you to draw the ?thread? across the wound. Some tools, like the suction tube or syringes, require you to move fluids through the tube by running the stylus along the pipe.

No operation is ever easy. In the case of the accident victim, it turned out that a few shards had gone deeper, meaning you have to open up the patient and remove some shards. Adding to the already high-pressure situation, every operation is timed in two ways. In addition to a timer, you also have to monitor the patient?s vital signs. If you allow the vital signs to get too out of whack (which is influenced through stresses you put on the patient?s body, namely screwing up the procedure), then it?s game over. Patient?s never truly die however, as a more experienced surgeon will always jump in at the last minute and save the day.


Things are looking very bright for the Nintendo DS?s future, and Trauma Center is just one of the many reasons why. The bad news is that Trauma Center isn't slated for release until later this year, so you still have time to wait. The good news is that the wait is a worthwhile one. Look for Trauma Center: Under the Knife, as well as our full review, this October.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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