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Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a surgery simulation game infused with a bit of dramatic story. Actually, itís a rehash of the DS game Trauma Center: Under the Knife, but more on that later.

Donít expect lifelike realism from Trauma Center: SO. Sure thereís a bit of blood, but itís represented as a red, cloudy substance. Basically youíll see the major organ youíre working on set against a foggy background. All the wet and messy stuff youíd expect to see inside the human body is toned down and simplified. It may be all the better for the squeamish out there.

During the story scenes, youíll see similar anime-style characters to those that were in the DS version of this game. They arenít animated, but they do change expressions to go along with the text. I found this to be acceptable, but it doesnít serve to help the Wiiís reputation as the visually underpowered system in the next-gen war.

Trauma Center: SO also has small voice snippets like the DS version had. These are things like the nurse cautioning you by saying, ďcarefulĒ or chiding you with a concerned ďDoctor!Ē Theyíre actually well done, and help maintain the atmosphere of an operating room, albeit a very dramatic one. One very good thing is that they arenít repetitive enough to get annoying.

The music is surprisingly one of Trauma Center: SOís high notes. Youíll probably be repeating some surgeries many times before you beat them, but the music doesnít become bothersome. I especially like the piano theme during episode selection. I even look forward to the dramatic ďsomething really bad has happenedĒ music (youíll know it when you hear it). It makes me want to scrub up and pick up the Wii controls like the surgeon Iím trying to be.


Gameplay:

In Trauma Center: Second Opinion you play as the rookie surgeon Derek Stiles. Each surgery is preceded by a bit of story, usually about the patient. Some things like the bioterror ďillnessĒ in the game stray into being far-fetched, but the story does stick to a serious tone. Thatís good, because Iím not sure Iím ready for the kooky surgery simulations that Japan would be capable of producing.

Trauma Center: SOís story doesnít diverge far from the DS one. There is an additional storyline involving a second female doctor that takes place alongside the familiar Derek Stilesí story, but itís optional. It is interesting, but itís also very sparse. Youíll have to make it through a lot of Derekís story to experience just a little of it. You still cannot influence the outcome of either story. You may change your rank for a particular surgery depending on how well you do, but youíll get the same story. On a side note, there was one difference from the DS game in an episode title, and I got a kick out of it. Letís just say it was an obscure reference to a popular movie from last year.

During surgery, your assistant will explain any new techniques you need to learn, then youíre on your own to decide how to complete each surgery. Many surgeries will become easier when youíve been through them once because youíll be able to plan your attack. For example, you may learn that immediately after you remove a tumor, 3 more are going to show up. The next time you go through the surgery, you can stall and bring the patients vitals up in order to free time up for the difficult part ahead. The hardest decision to make is when to use Derekís all-important healing touch - an ability that allows him to slow down time. If you use it too soon, you may discover yourself overwhelmed by some disastrous event later on.


Difficulty:

Much of Trauma Center: Second Opinionís difficulty is tied to how well you can memorize the routine for each particular surgery. Things move so quickly in some of the later levels that itís nearly impossible to get through them without repeating them a few times. These difficult surgeries often made me want to give up, but they really gave me a sense of accomplishment when I beat them. You can always take the difficulty down a level, but the time limit is a menace to those that need to take things slow.

Game Mechanics:

Trauma Center: Second Opinion has similar gameplay to the DS game, but the Wiiís motion controls turn this into a new game. The Wii-mote is held in your dominant hand and does the work of the game like moving and manipulating instruments. The Nunchuck goes in your other hand and is only used for selecting instruments. With practice, it feels natural to select instruments on the fly without looking at the lower left instrument panel. A player can become very quick and efficient with this control scheme. Just working toward becoming efficient is a goal in itself, and itís nice to have gameplay that rewards skill development like this.

While the controls of Trauma Center: SO are great, I thought there was still plenty of room for enhancement over the DS game. I thought it would have been great to make this a 2 player game, with the second player playing the role of assistant. All the assistant might do is prep instruments and hand them to the first player, but it would add a great dynamic to the game.

Trauma Center: SO is a great launch title for the Wii. It showcases the unique controls and rewards becoming skillful with these new controls. Unfortunately, for some there may be a lack of replayability due to the linear story and the set routines for each surgery. The fun is in the experience of this unique simulation game, and I recommend at least giving it a try.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Sony PlayStation 3 Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire Nintendo DS Dogz

 
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