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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Atlus Software
Atlus Software
GENRE: Simulation
November 19, 2006

Trauma Center: Under the Knife

 Written by Jason Young  on December 05, 2006

Review: Who needs medical school when you've got a nunchuk, a remote, and a Wii?

For many Nintendo DS owners, Trauma Center: Under the Knife represented one of the most innovative games that the system had to offer. Mix together a decent medical plot, fun controls, and hot nurses and you had an instant hit. In Under the Knife, you played the role of a novice doctor who becomes entangled in the middle of numerous medical mysteries while trying to save each patient. When Trauma Center: Second Opinion was announced for the Wii, many people wondered how the game would be with new controls, and if it would be worth playing since the story remained largely the same (with the exception of a new doctor and an extra chapter). The answer: it plays wonderfully.

The Nintendo DS version had the player touch the screen with the stylus in order to pick up tumors, make incisions, or perform an ultra sound. The Wii version makes just as many breakthroughs with the Wii-mote and nunchuck. While performing an operation, you'll be using the nunchuck to cycle through your various medical tools needed to complete your surgeries while using the Wii-mote either as forceps (pressing A + B together), a scalpel, or syringe. This control scheme not only feels better in your hands, but it makes the game more ?authentic.' Although the player will be relying mostly on the Wii-mote as the actual tool, there are times when they're forced to use both the nunchuck and Wii-mote in conjunction to perform a special move or use the defibrillator.

For players concerned about having to make precise incisions without shaking their hands, they'll be glad to know that the controller's sensitivity can be turned down in order to make the game easier. Additionally, the game is pretty forgiving, so even if you don't have ?perfect' hands, meeting specific requirements during surgery will help the player nail those ?cool' and ?good' points.

Just like real-life surgery, some of the missions are just a general pain in the ass. Often you'll find yourself wanting to smash your controller through your TV as you fail operation again and again, killing your patients and losing your medical license in the process. Helping to balance out the game however are three different difficulties: hard, medium, and easy. These options not only add a high amount of replay value, but they can also be swapped throughout the game. Feel as though you can't quite get the timing of replacing a heart? Then change the difficulty to easy to get your timing down and then later go back to whatever difficulty you were on before. While it's arguably quite wimpy to tone down the difficulty just because you can't pass a mission on normal, no one's laughing at you?except for the evil viruses of course.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Trauma Center is presented in a style similar to graphic novels. Still backgrounds, animated characters, and an anime atmosphere lend themselves to the game's story. Each mission is broken up into different ?episodes' with subsequent gameplay and side-story sequences added to the mix. Although the game's story isn't particularly groundbreaking, it provides more than just a reference to go from Operation A to Operation B. Plus, the nurses are still hot.

In a game where the gameplay overrides the visuals, Second Opinion is still an upgrade from the DS version. There is a noticeable increase in patient details as well as an overall change in character design. Although the game relies largely on simplified forms to represent organs such as the heart and/or kidney, the player is still able to get a sense of what exactly it is they're operating on provided that they know their basic human anatomy.

The game's sound effects are nothing more than gushing and simple clicks and claks. Where the audio shines however is the music and voice acting. The game's remixed music warrants the purchase of a soundtrack if it's ever released. Its dramatic and intense themes create a nice sense of urgency during each operation. The voice actors do a good job at conveying emotions as well, although their work is limited to mostly one-liners. Including speech in the storytelling would have gone a long way to bumping up the game's otherwise excellent audio.

Bottom Line
All in all, for a system that's banking on revolutionizing the way we play games, Trauma Center: Second Opinion does just that. The redesigned gameplay helps the player become enthralled into the world of Trauma Center and definitely shows the potential of the Wii.

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