Game Review: Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Game: Trauma Center- Second Opinion

Publisher: Altus

Platform: Nintendo Wii Exclusive

Release Date: 2006

Rating: 4 out of 5

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is the best medical game I’ve ever played. It is superbly inventive with the format, a combination of action / puzzler. If you recall the old board game Operation then you can f imagine game play where you are posted with a bird’s eye view while plucking glass shards out of a patient's flesh with forceps. But it doesn’t stop there. In this game you will also find yourself using ultrasound to navigate internally, pointing lasers for zapping tumors out of organs, and stitching up the skin flaps with sutures after a successful surgery.

In Trauma Center, you are a new surgeon becoming accustomed to the hectic pace of the operating room while surrounded by intense anime melodrama. For those DS owners who have already played Trauma Center: Under the Knife, this is a straight remake. The story is dramatic and the dialogue is well written, but the operations here is the same. The main update is the implementation of the Wii remote and nunchuck. The artwork is also redrawn and looks slick. For Wii owners who have not played Under the Knife, you are in for a real treat.

The storyline is engrossing and in classic Japanese fashion becomes fantastically dire with your character learning that you have supernatural operating abilities. At the same time, you realize that the entire world is threatened and only you can save it through medical science. This is all communicated through the cut scenes with drawn characters and text dialogue, which in some games, can be tedious but in this case, it adds well to the quick pacing of the story. I won’t give away too much of the narrative, suffice to say it’s a trip and kept me interested throughout.

A tame example: at one point you are cutting polyps out of the throat of an aspiring singer who is hopeless without your help. In this manner, each sequence is being introduced in a personal and endearing manner. The heart and soul of the game is in the operation, which is, in essence, timed puzzles of increasing difficulty. This game is properly challenging! I killed several people before I got it down pat. The 3D surgery sequences give you a tray of tools, like suction hose, syringe, scalpel, antiseptic, and lasers which you must select quickly with the nunchuck and accurately use the Wiimote to navigate the organ and address the situation appropriately.

The surgery sequences are not gory or gruesome, they've got just the right amount of detail to communicate the complexity of the condition. It can be confusing at first working in the three dimensional space but once the tools become familiar, the movements are intuitive. Not only do you have a time limit (for most operations you are given about five minutes to complete) but there will be unexpected events happening around you which will prompt you to suddenly fire up the defibrillator or suction out excess fluids.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a Wii standout and a must have game. It’s an incredibly inventive title with addictive game play. The anime style complements the light soundtrack with a compelling storyline while the player is hammered with intense surgical scenarios and exacting challenges. This is a semi-realistic game experience with life and death hanging in the balance each moment. When played in short blocks it can be very gratifying but you can also just zone out for hours and get submerged into this one. I highly recommend Wii owners find a copy of this slept on gem.