I’ll be honest, usually I’m an FPS/RPG/adventure gamer. As shallow as that is, I do occasionally reach outside of my comfort zone. But, when I was younger (2nd grade and up), my best friend and I tackled all sorts of random games. One of those, Life & Death (GREAT game, if you haven’t played it and can put up with graphics from 1988), spurred my interest in simulation games.
Life & Death – not Trauma Center. Impressive graphics for the 80s, though!
I was poking through the simulation games on GameFly and Trauma Center caught my eye. There are two games, and for some reason I decided to play the second one, Second Opinion, first.
Anyone who knows me knows that I get fed up and frustrated with games fairly quickly, the allure dies, and I never play it again. (To be honest, that’s why I think that GameFly is perfect for me). A surgery game has a pretty high probability for this happening, but, to my surprise, I’m still hooked on it.
There’s more plot than there was with Life & Death, for sure — between the music, the graphics, and the dialogue, it plays like a Japanese soap opera (AWESOME). After I figued out how to actually use the controls (use the control stick to navigate around the tool circle), they were pretty intuitive.
Surgery screen shot. Tool circle on the left, hottie (but annoying) nurse on the right
The learning curve isn’t steep — not only are you debriefed prior to each surgery (they provide objectives for you), but a nurse or some other character stays with you during the operations to do one of the following: helpfully point out suggestions, lead you WAY astray, or yell at you when you do something wrong.
There is a grading system for each surgery, based on a grade for each action you take. Depending on how clean/sloppy your work is, or how good your aim is with a syringe, the game will say “Bad,” “Cool,” etc. The more “Cool”s and “Ok”s you get, the higher your score will be at the end. Also, you can earn bonus points for being fast, keeping a patient’s vitals above a certain level, etc. You can always go back and re-do a surgery should you not be satisfied with your score, which I think is cool and adds some solid replay value.
Prior to operations, your character helpfully declares, “I WILL save this patient!”
There were, however, a few things I didn’t like about the game. Your main character has something called the “Healing Touch,” which is apparenly some sort of time-shifting power (think Hiro from Heroes). You have to draw a start on your screen to activate it. I was really annoyed with this, and never used it (which actually netted me some bonuses, since it makes the game easier). It just seemed like an obnoxious extra. Additionally, whenever you re-start a surgery, there’s no option to skip the debriefing. Some of the debriefings are really long, so this gets annoying.
Other than that, I’m hooked on Trauma Center. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something original, and you can stomach the soap-opera-y plotlines. I’m checking out the first game, as well as the ones they have for the DS as soon as I’m finished.