Review by Quetzal Kaizoku
"I can't operate on this man-- and I'm going to prove it to you!"
This game, Trauma Center, has been brought to my DS from Atlus, a company that has repeatedly tickled my fancy for many years, and what they've handed over on this day has not disappointed me. I will now be moderately titillated by the story of a man named Derek Stiles, rookie surgeon extraordinaire, as he travels from place to place, helping people who may or may not wish to live.
I am very excited by this, a creative DS title that makes full use of the touch-screen it's been given. To save the lives of these (sometimes) irritating patients, you must raise your stylus in a battle against evil, and the dangers of mysteriously lacerated intestines!
From a game such as this, I really hadn't expected much in the way of story. I expected a sort of 'Oh, this patient is dying. Please help him!' followed by 'Phew. Good thing my assistant explained the proper method to save this person just when things became most dramatic. Bring in the next one!' But really, the story behind this game is more than I expected it to be.
Derek Stiles, a decidedly mediocre surgeon with punctuality problems, has no idea about the many trials he will be put through to put an end to an infectious disease called GUILT that threatens the lives of many, including fellow workers he will grow attached to along the way. In the end, the story is very fitting to the style of the game, and it does succeed in drawing you in, and keeping you wanting to keep playing to find out what happens next. I feel it is sufficient.
The musical aspect of the game is well presented, offering dramatic music when things are making you break sweat, and well-composed lounging music during storyline sequences, or when your assistant is yammering about how disgustingly incompetent you are. All the music is pleasing to the ear, with some pretty catchy beats, toe-tapping bass bass lines, and cleverly emulated choruses.
The game also features voice overs, which are well-done but few. The sound effects are well assembled, just so you can hear what someone liver exploding sounds like, and really understand exactly what a scalpel cutting through someone's skin sounds like.
Visually, the game is quite evidently made in a heavily Japanese style, with all the comical character designs and poses. Lots of cute characters with big eyes are to be found in these here parts, and I'm not going to be the one who complains about it.
Outside of operation, most things are quite normal, with grizzly old doctors, and a hot nurse that follows Derek around everywhere he goes. When someone is slid onto the operation table, though, things change. The style turns into pseudo 3D, which I find to look similar to Mode 7. I imagine many would disagree. Overall, the game works very well in this style, and I really have difficulty imagining any other style to present a game like this in, so I believe the creators made the proper choice.
The real attraction of this game is how it plays, which is really what should shine in any game, but that's aside from the point. This game is incredibly fun to play, which is always most important, and it provides a deliciously absurd amount of challenge, which I absolutely adore. When you're operating, you have a choice of many different tools that you will need to use depending on the situation, and each one holds a unique, and practical use. When a man is slid under the knife, (see what I did there?) he will have a pre-set amount of vitals. If his vitals drop to zero, you have killed him, and it'll be game over, so it's important to keep his vitals up pumping the juice of life into him whenever necessary.
Our beloved Derek Stiles is a somewhat mediocre doctor, but he is blessed with the Healing Touch, something that theoretically could save the lives of many patients. However, it is also the sort of thing I kind of forget to use. I just forget it's there, and I try to do everything with natural skills. There are some cases where the nurse says something like 'If only you used the Healing Touch,' and I'm all like 'Oh. Right.' What it essentially does is slow everything down for you, which would give you a bit more time to react to a situation, suture up an excess of wounds, or maybe pump your patient's vitals and blast something with a laser-- whatever you need to do, you have the Healing Touch for it.
In the battle against GUILT, which seems to be the cool thing to get, you'll find yourself using many different strategies to deal with whole new types of this disease, and each one provides its own unique set of challenges to overcome. However, all this is a moot point if you're just a terrible surgeon, much like myself. I believe in the side of surgery that involves pointless risks, such as whipping out my scalpel, and stabbing at someone's heart just to see how much it can take.
A downside to this game is that it is very short. After six hours of solid fun, I'd finished the game, and I still don't really see any need to play it again. I imagine they included giving you a score after each operation in order to encourage you to try and do the best you can, but I really don't see a point. I saved the person's life, and I really think that's all that matters.
Trauma Center is an incredible experience, and I don't believe anyone deserves to have this held away from them. It draws you in with incredible gameplay, and will shock and amaze you for small while. The game really succeeds in keeping you interested for as long as it lasts, which is not very long at all. The game suffers from a sometimes boring plot and a lack of replayability, but is still an excellent game, and will provide you with some fun times, and an interesting conversation piece when you're hanging out with your friends.
I read this once, and I'm not sure who wrote it, but I believe it to be one of the truest things spoken in a long time: "If all doctors did a pose like this before surgery, I think we'd have a lot less bodies on our hands."
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/20/06
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