Only in Japan. Trauma Center: Second Opinion is something you wouldn't expect, over the past 20 years the majority of video games have been about killing things, Trauma Center is one of the many few that is all about saving things, saving peoples lives, Holby City style.
Second Opinion is a remake/follow-up of the acclaimed Trauma Center: Under The Knife on the DS, where you play as a young surgeon named Derek Stiles, Dr. Derek Stiles. The purpose of the game? Its simple, you need to perform minor and major surgeries on patients in order to save their lives and progress the storyline.
You start the game in your new job at Hope Hospital, your introduced to your team consisting of an assistant nurse and some other doctors. After the story setup you are straight into the operating theatre where your team talk you through your very first operation, its nice and straight forward and acts as a perfect introduction into the control system and your operating tools.
The game uses the Nun-chuck system, the analog stick on the nun-chuck is used to select your tools, you have 8 to choose from at any one time – pushing the stick (up, down, left etc..) selects the tool from the wheel on the left hand side. Tools range from Scalpel and Antibiotic Gel to Stitches and Lasers. There are around 10 different tools throughout the game, it can take time remembering them all at first but you soon start to get the hang of it.
With a tool in hand, you move the pointer on-screen with the Wiimote, using either the A or B buttons you start to perform actions like cutting, stitching and even fixing broken bones. The control system is excellent, Atlus have obviously learned a lot from the DS touch screen and really applied it well to the Wii.
Operations have their objectives detailed just before you start, you have to closely monitor the patients vitals and try not to cut them too much, once their vitals hit 0 its game over. Additionally, to make things interesting your operating within a time limit, take too long and the patient dies, also game over. After you complete your operation you're given a score and a rating, this is based on how many mistakes you make during surgery.
As you complete operations the story expands and new characters are introduced, you learn all about your patients and what has caused their injuries and infections. The story is presented in sub titles which may be boring for younger gamers as theres quite a lot to read, you might think voice over would be better but it would really slow down a lot of gamers, I felt I could read the screen much faster than listening to a voice over.
Trauma Center is set in the near future where medical technology has far surpassed our own, this means the story develops with some new and advanced virus's that are totally science fiction and medical terrorism but all of this make for an much more entertaining story. Heavy featured virus named “GUILT” makes its patients feel like crap and want to die, its up to you to track down the “GUILT” and eliminate it.
One of the first things I loved about this game was the overall presentation and tempo, I've felt a number of Wii games let down by their menus and on-screen help. Trauma Center really excels in this area, the menus are excellent which is truly complemented by “video game” upbeat music. The game happily flows been story telling and operations, its a lot more entertaining than you might think.
Obviously this game would have been told primarily in Japanese, but whoever was responsible for the American translation deserves some kinda award, the script is hilarious at times as all of your colleagues start taking the “mick” out of you, excellent work.
Now down to the actual reviewing, along with the excellent story and presentation the actual surgery side of things progresses very nicely. With more and more complex operations you find yourself starting to work things out for yourself which is highly rewarding when everything goes clicks together. The operations start to require skills that you have learned previously, you end up doing a lot of different things, but I won't spoil it for you here.
The graphics are more than adequate for a medical simulation, in fact its overall look works great and has little need for improvement. The only problem is the lack of a 16:9 mode which luckily the game doesn't look too bad when stretched.
The only other downside I'd like to mention is the fact the story only goes in one direction, at no point do you get to really “decide” your fate, you just have to go along with it. Perhaps in a future version we'll see the ability to control the story more and choose which direction we want our career to go.
It feels like Atlus have put a lot of effort into the story as its really the only element that links two operations together, the story is split into episodes which plays out like a serial drama on TV. There are around 50 operations in total in the game and over 60 episodes to the story, I imagine most gamers will take at least 20 hours to complete the story, so actually its a pretty good return for your money.
Trauma Center: Second Opinion is something new, you won't find anything like this on the PS3 or 360. It's proof alone that Wii will create entirely new genres of games that appeal to new audiences. A truly unique experience with an excellent control system coupled with its flawless presentation makes a highly entertaining debut game from Atlus. Even if your unsure about the subject matter I urge you not to let it stop you picking this game up either now, or in a few months time in Europe.