Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Review by OutOfRange
"A Great Game, But It's A Shame The Guilt Storyline Ruins The Experience"
Out of all the DS games released, and probably out of all recent releases full stop, this one has probably received the most media attention. It's had adverts and sponsorships with it's name on quite prominently, and thus pretty much became the hit game for the DS, until the launch of Phoenix Wright anyway.
The game starts off as you play the part of Doctor Stiles and you perform some rather basic run of the mill surgeries. Later in the game the plot takes a twist and terrorists start to appear on the scene, as you perform surgery on everything from time bombs to new strains of a mysterious virus called Guilt'. However, as the game progresses, the storyline gets a bit too complex with important information just being neglected, and it gets pretty ridiculous. I would have preferred a game that just stayed in the hospital doing realistic operations, and in all honesty, I think it would have been a better game for it.
The game starts off at a steady speed; it's not easy and you end up failing quite frequently, however, it's not really so difficult that it puts you off. Not until the later missions anyway, the guilt virus is an extremely disappointing and boring plot device, and some of the things you have to do to defeat it are ridiculous. For example, for one of them, the guilt has two parts, that move at random, and you have to wait for them to collide before you can even do anything. The problem is that you're on a pretty strict time limit and so you can fail without it being your fault in any way.
The surgery part of the game is pretty well done though, the different tools all have their own uses and are used in pretty imaginative ways. However, the suturing is really annoying, because you can be doing it time after time in more or less the exact same position and at times you'll miss and other times it will work, it just seems completely random without there being any explanation as to why. This is also really annoying for another reason; you can only miss' so many times before you fail the operations, and so you can go through an extremely difficult operation, only to fail because the crappy game wouldn't suture properly.
Although these are pretty major problems and you would have hoped that anyone play testing this game would have picked up on them, the game is fun due to the amount of challenge in it. It's a unique game that takes good advantage of the DS's uniqueness, especially with the stylus. Unfortunately, once you've finished, there's not much else to do, but you'll fail so many times that it'll take a decent amount of time to finish. Also, while the stylus is used well, the dual screens are not, you have to keep glancing up at the stop screen to see how your patient's vital signs are doing, which takes your attention away from what you're doing, in the cases with the guilt this can pretty much spell game over.
However, some of the earlier missions are really fun to play; while taking the glass out of someone's heart is pretty simplistic, it really helps you to get to grips with the controls. Later on the plane mission is really tricky, where the patient's heart keeps stopping you need to massage it to get it going again. These missions are actually more fun than the guilt missions you get later, mainly because you're doing something different each time, whereas with the guilt you fight the same strain of it over and over.
The graphics have a definite anime feel to them, especially with some of the poses. The body parts are done well, and it's pretty easy to identify which part of the body you're working on. However, although there's technically a lot of changing in environment the graphics all look pretty much the same throughout the entire game. While this isn't a terribly bad thing, it does get a bit dull staring at the same few character pictures that exist for each character.
The in game music is fine, I don't really remember much of it, but I do remember it not being too distracting. The sound effects that are played while you do the surgery are pretty effective in keeping the tension up and keeping you concentrated. The problem is with the little amount of voice acting that is in it; most notably the doctor' sound bite that gets said over and over, and basically just means, look at the top screen while I say something pretty much irrelevant while the patient's life fritters away.
I really enjoyed playing the game while it lasted, and longevity is a bit of a problem with this game, since it's pretty short, and once you've finished it, there really is nothing to go back and do. However, it is one of the more unique games that has been released in recent times, and really uses the touch screen of the DS well. It does have some major flaws that really stop you completely enjoying the experience, but if you're after a game that's going to test your patience as well as puzzle you, this game would probably be ideal.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/26/07
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