Trauma Center: Second Opinion Review

With the batch of launch releases that came out with the Wii, Twilight Princesss and Trauma center definitely piqued my interest. Twilight princess was a definite purchase, but my inner virtual doctor clamored for more practice. Never having played the DS version, but having heard about how engaging the game was, I was moving into uncharted territory. Once the game was acquired, I was engrossed into Trauma Center as soon as I accessed the game through the Wii menu. All of my expectations were shattered once I began playing Trauma Center:Second Opinion as I cut into my first patient. Afterwards I was totally immersed in the game and continued through the game in about three to four sittings, always navigating the twists and turns in the story.

So, what is Trauma Center’s story? Not to reveal too many spoilers, but the story begins with a nice introduction for all of the main characters that you meet at the beginning of the game and gives a brief background for each of them. You play the role of Derek Stiles, fresh out of med school doctor, operating on your first patient. From there, the story takes off and it goes on an emotional roller coaster as you discover your skills and become entangled in a plot that allows for the greatest breakthrough in human medicine…or is it?

The graphics of this game definitely fit their role but are not cutting edge like what can be expected out of some of the other titles on the Wii (Most notably, Twilight Princess). During the story scenes, a static background appears and characters flash onto the screen with text of what is being said. Even though this isn’t a graphically superior way of presenting the story, it does fit the feel of the game and does add atmosphere.

The actual operations involve a little more animation as blood, infections, and other foreign bodies become lodged in the patients. If you are expecting a life like representation of the person that is being operated on, look elsewhere as the player will only see a three dimensional outline of the body that is being operated on. Once the player cuts into the body of the patient, an animated representation of the organ that is being operated on will appear with ailment that is afflicting the patient chugging away at his or her health. If you are the squeamish type, this game will not turn you off due to over employing the color red as the gore remains on a minimalist level due to the game catering to a wide demographic.

The characters in the game have small quips that they blurt out depending on how the operation is proceeding, other than that though, the characters remain a tad bit on the silent side. The defibrillator and any other actions you attempt to perform on the patient do have a full sound to them and any mistakes that occur make the player cringe in fear as the noise of cutting into a human being emanate from the speakers. The music itself changes depending on the situation that the player is thrown into, but it seems there are only three songs that repeatedly play over and over in every operation that the player cuts into. A little more variety on the music front would have definitely helped increase game immersion.

The revolutionary controls of the Wii definitely play their role in this game. Both the Wiimote and the Nunchukas play an integral part in attempting to save the patient’s lives. The Wiimote allows for pointing and dragging over the patients body with different tools and the nunchuckas give the player the ability to select the implement that is required for the job at hand. The controls are very smooth but it is frustrating when you actually move out of the sensor area and you get a negative mark against your surgeon skills as it resets itself. I was glad to see that the controls are responsive and allow the player to operate on the patient without having to worry about messing up the fine details of the operation and putting the patient’s life into jeopardy.

The gameplay is where Trauma Center shines. Once I began playing the game, I could not put down the controller as I was in totally immersed. With the first couple of operations, the characters are introduced and the player, as Derek Stiles, learns the ropes of what it is to be a surgeon. At first, the nurse that works in tandem with the doctor and only a few tools are unlocked. As the player moves through the intro chapter of the game, they are slowly given more options and have to think for themselves on how to proceed in the situation they are in. Every operation has a time crunch that is predetermined and the operation has to be concluded within that time period or the patient expires. Moving towards the end of the game, all your acquired skills will play a role in attempting to help save the patient’s life, as the missions did progressively get harder and I did want to throw the Wiimote across the room, but my desire to figure out the answer to the problem kept me chugging through the game.

Once a patient is in a stable condition and you suture up the wounds, you receive a numerical score that is dependent on multiple factors that occur during the operation. Anything from the accuracy of your incisions to the proper suturing of wounds plays a vital role in that end game score. The game will also apply a alphabetical ranking to your performance ala Advance Wars.

With the game being a launch title and costing $49.99 at big box retailers, I would have expected more to do after I finished the game. Sadly, the only thing you can do is raise the difficulty which seemingly only adjusts the amount of mistakes you can make and how high of a chain you can tie together without making those said mistakes. Once the game has been beaten, the only thing the player can do is go back to attempting to receive a higher score in previous operations. Practice does make perfect. I wish the game would have shipped a random operation generator as it would definitely have added to the longevity of the game. Due to this, the game might be relegated to rental status unless you have the money to spend on this game. As I have mentioned previously, I did get my enjoyment out of the game.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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