Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Trauma Center: Second Opinion
(Atlus for Nintendo Wii)

Picking up where last year's DS title left off, Trauma Center: Second Opinion once again puts players into the operating room. Playing as a young doctor, each level has you perform a variety of tasks, such as removing tumors from patients, before the timer runs out. Each level requires you to do these tasks in specific order while not making things worse. You have a helpful nurse to help you along the way, and the surgeries themselves become increasing complex. This is an interesting and enjoyable game so join us as we examine this title and find out what makes it tick.

Set in a bustling hospital, Trauma Center: Second Opinion once again follows the career of a young surgeon named Dr. Stiles. You play through each mission and help him along as he tries to complete a series of operations without losing patients due to his mistakes. You need to do this quickly since there's a clock requiring you to finish each operation before the timer run out. This isn't as simple as it sounds, since you need to be aware of multiple tasks at the same time. The surgical missions require players to use a variety of tools including real medical devices such as forceps, drains, antibiotics, lasers, stitches, scalpels, magnifiers, ultra sound devices and more, depending on the operation. One of the most important things you need to learn during surgery is what tool to use and when. Fumbling around not only costs you valuable time, but it can also lead to your hurting your patient needlessly, which makes the rest of the operation that much harder. Fortunately, you have a trusty nurse at your side in the Operating Room who can give you advice and helps to point you in the right direction. They'll also criticize you when you make a mistake, which doesn't help your concentration. Listening to their advice makes a big difference during the course of the game which makes it important not to skip their initial directions and diagnosis.

Each type of injury requires a different procedure that you need to follow. Figuring out which steps you need and what order to complete them in is crucial. For example, during one of the early operations, you'll learn the skills you'll need later on. in order to remove a tumor from a patient, you'll first need to locate it with your ultra sound, use the scalpel to open it up, drain it then remove it with your forceps by placing it on the dish. Once this is complete, you need to sew up the incision using the stitches, then apply the antibiotic ointment and then move on to the next area. During the surgeries, you'll also have to keep an eye out on your patients' vital signs, which slowly drop during each procedure. You can inject them with healing ointment which increases their health, but any mistakes will cause your patient's vitals to drop quicker. Learning to do all of this without making any mistakes takes some practice, because later stages offer less room for errors. It's for this reason that you need to stay alert and think ahead several steps, but don't take to much time since the clock is clicking. Once the timer runs out, a more experienced surgeon will quickly take over and you need to restart the procedure from the beginning. This can be extremely frustrating early on, but once you practice and get to know things, you'll have increased confidence. Once you have experience with the basics, you can perform simpler tasks much faster, allowing you to concentrate on the trickier areas of the operation. While your initial diagnosis of a patient generally holds through the operation, unexpected things can and do occur during the operation, and these unexpected events make the gameplay more challenging.

One of the most surprising aspects of Trauma Center: Second Opinion are its controls, which might seem complicated at first, but become surprisingly intuitive once you get the hang of things. You control most of the action using the remote controller, aiming at the screen lets you cut incisions, sew stitches and inject patients easily and accurately. Most of the surgical area is viewable on the screen, but you can use the magnifier to go in for a more accurate viewpoint. Switching between medical items is accomplished using the nunchuck analog attachment. This lets you select which tool to use, which is half the puzzle. Since each operation presents a different set of circumstances, knowing what to use in each situation is a key part of the puzzle. The arrangement of your tools and the simplicity of the interface makes things surprisingly easy to understand. Some of the tasks you need to complete are fairly complicated and make you hold down both the A and B button before you can move an object. For the most part things are fairly simple, and the main challenge that the game presents is one of speed and accuracy. Trauma Center uses the Wii's unique controller effectively and cleverly with a well-designed interface that makes performing each procedure relatively easy.

Trauma Center's controls are easy to use, but what makes the game so engaging is the backstory and plot. During the course of the game, you'll interact with the other doctors, nurses and patients, each of whom talks to you in a series of text-based menus that allows the story to flow. While its not as elaborate as one would like, this presentation is decent and doesn't detract from the action. From a visual standpoint, Trauma Center isn't much to look at with somewhat bland design and static screens that don't go much beyond the level of detail found on the DS version. On one level, this can be seen as disappointing, but the game isn't really designed to impress with graphics and visuals. It's more like a puzzle game than an action title, though the more restrained RPG style approach fits the material better. The graphics aren't much to write home about, but the gameplay is quite enjoyable and interesting throughout. Trauma Center's gameplay is where it truly shines, with challenging operations and procedures to master. While it seems complex on the surface, the game's intuitive and innovative controls make you feel like you're performing a surgical procedure. Using hand motions for suturing, cutting, slicing and sewing adds a unique level of immersion to the experience that adds some visceral excitement. Like many of the other Wii launch titles, the game's graphics are somewhat bland but the execution is decent and benefits immensely from the console's innovative controller. Trauma Center: Second Opinion is an entertaining and engaging title that offers unique gameplay and an interesting storyline that should keep you hooked for quite some time.

> Related Reviews

ExciteTruck (Nintendo Wii)
StarFox Command (Nintendo DS)
LocoRoco (PSP)
Electroplankton (Nintendo DS)

< Back to Main Page