Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Review by Zarxrax
"This game alone makes the DS worth owning"
A few weeks ago I went over to EB Games with the intention of buying a DS system with Kirby Canvas Curse. When I got to the store, I noticed they were selling used systems for $30 cheaper than the new ones, so I opted for the used system and decided to used the extra $30 to purchase an extra game. I had heard a little bit about Trauma Center and thought the concept was interesting, so I just picked it up on a hunch, and I couldn't be more glad that I did.
Despite the rave reviews that Kirby got, I found myself bored with it very quickly. It just wasn't a very fun game to me. I was starting to wonder whether purchasing the DS had been a mistake. Then I popped in Trauma Center. From the very first surgery, I thought "this is really cool!" I kept playing. And playing. I have played the game every single day since I have purchased the DS, and I still am not bored with it. This is truely one of the best games I have played on any system in a long time. Let's take a look at how it breaks down.
The game involves you doing surgery, so there is obviously a lot of blood and stuff. However, the game is not overly realistic in its depictions of things, so it really shouldn't make you squeamish at all. Trust me, I have an extremely weak stomache. I couldn't even LOOK when we were disecting frogs back in high school, though this game doesn't bother me in the slightest. The back of the box also lists "partial nudity", but this is really nothing to worry about. The people's bodys are like Barbie dolls, they don't show anything. In fact, I don't believe anything below the waist is even shown throughout the entire game. As far as language goes, theres nothing too bad here. There might be one or 2 words that wouldn't be able to make it into a G-rated film, but thats about it.
Despite all of this, I am not sure I would recommend the game for younger children, because a lot of medical terminology is used, and kids might have difficulty understanding what is going on.
This game has a pretty interesting story. It's quite a bit deeper than I had expected, and it really helps to keep the game interesting and show your motivation for each surgery. A little ways into the game, it turns a little sci-fi though, so its not overly realistic.
The graphics get the job done. They aren't overly realistic, and thats a good thing. The bottom screen features 3d graphics depicting the stuff that you are operating on, and the top screen features some stats and hints from your nurse. In between surgerys, the story is told on the top screen with some anime-style characters. The characters are depicted by still images, and each character only has a few different images, so you see the same images over and over and over. It would have been nice if they had included some more variety in the depictions of the characters.
The music really gets you into the game. It's the kind of music that you really don't even notice while you are playing, but if you turn it off, you will definately notice that something is missing! It really helps to set the mood for the surgerys. In between the surgerys, while its telling the story, the music gets a bit "happier", but at this point it really starts to get on my nerves. The music during the story sections is just really annoying!
I have never played another game that I got into so much as this one. The game is difficult, and there is a real sense of urgency to it. After some surgerys, I have literally been out of breath and sweating, with my heart pounding. Its THAT intense! This must be what it feels like for a real surgeon. There are about 37 different surgerys that you must perform, and then about 6 or 7 bonus surgerys that you unlock after completing the game. After you get through the first couple of surgery's the game starts getting more and more difficult. It was quite rare for me to complete a surgery on the first try. On some, I have to try them about 20-40 times before finally passing it! This is definately a game that will make you frustrated from the challenge. Fortunately the time limit for most of the surgerys is only 5 minutes, so the game is very easy to just pick up and try a few times, then quit for a while. A couple of the surgerys give you a 10 minute time limit, and these tend to be more frustrating, because when you lose, you have to redo a lot more of your work. In addition to the main game, there is a challenge mode where you can replay all of the surgerys and try to get better scores. The goal in the challenge mode is to get an "S" rank on each surgery, and this is extremely difficult. When I beat most of the surgerys in the main game, I would almost always pass them with "C" ranking, which is the lowest you can get. In order to achieve an S, you must play practically flawlesly. Because of the short length of the surgerys though, its lots of fun to just try them over and over trying to get the S rank. As for the surgerys themselves, there is a lot of variety in them, much more than I had expected. However, the last few surgerys in the game and the bonus surgerys are just harder versions of earlier surgerys.
I have only 1 major complaint about the game. During surgery, your nurse will talk to you, and you have to stop what you are doing and hit a box labeled "call" in order to progress the text and get it off the screen so you can continue your surgery. When you are doing a surgery for the first time, these hints can be very helpful. However, after you know what to do, they are just annoying. They make you stop what you are doing and break your flow. They even appear during the challenge mode, which I think was just completely unnecessary. There is no way to disable it either.
If you like a challenge, or innovative gameplay, then I simply can not recommend this game enough. At only $30, its a steal. If you don't at least give this game a shot, then I think you are really missing out. This might just be the best game currently available on the DS.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/05
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