Top critical review
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Japanese arcade game surgery
on 14 January 2009
I previously owned Trauma Center - Second Opinion, and sold it soon after finishing. It wasn't a bad game, really. Using the Wiimote in new ways and performing the electronic version of "Operation" was very entertaining. The storyline was very cheap and hackneyed, and the odd voice acting and non-fmv animation was overly long and intrusive. The surgeries themselves were very good, and removing bone fragments and pulling glass out of people's hearts was quite engaging. Things took a turn for the worse when "GUILT" showed up. GUILT was the main adversary in the game - an engineered pathogen that resided in the bodies of patients and had to be removed. All of which is ok, except that GUILT is a couple of inches across or more, and swims around under the surface of organs - dumb. How to kill it? Shoot it with the surgical laser, a bit like an arcade shooting game.
So it was with reluctance I bought this sequel. It was going very cheap (thank you recession) at a toy store, and I picked it up. It started out well, with the normal everyday surgeries I really enjoyed in the last game. Tumour excision, pulling a bullet out of a heart, etc. Then, your sometime mentor, a Professor Wilkens, announces that he is sick with "Stigma". Uh-oh. My worst fears were realized as, sure enough, a small swimming pathogen about 2 inches across had to be shot with a surgical laser.
The Stigma gameplay worsens, as did the GUILT gameplay, as the pathogen changes forms and requires a slightly different method of shooting or cutting with a scalpel. It's a series of very similar mini-games, really, with increasing difficulty as the games winds on. The story isn't enough to keep you entertained, and its really very hard to keep coming back to this. The occasional normal surgery in the midst of the mini-game style surgeries is an oasis of entertainment, in a game that leaves you otherwise very thirsty. There is another niggling issue too: talking during the operation. It may be hard to remember the exact procedure for a given operation, but the nurse reminds you of what needs to be done. This is fine, but to move past her current sentence when she's finished speaking, you need to press the A button. Press it twice inadvertently, and you could jab the patient in the spleen with your scalpel, and poof - an otherwise perfect surgery score ruined. In a game where your actions are rated cool, good, ok, bad and miss, a miss you shouldn't have made is quite frustrating.
Is this game worth owning? You could probably get Second Opinion cheaper, and except for the co-op mode (none of my mates want to play it anyway) and the heart-massage technique, which is actually kind of cool but way overused, its virtually identical. The normal surgery components of the game are the only surgery sim going, even though they are quite unrealistic. So until someone actually fills the realistic surgery sim niche, this is all we have.