Review by Bach_741

"Let's begin the operation!"

This is the only Wii title I purchased at launch that I haven't seen reviewed on this site yet, so . . . yeah. **hangs head in shame** I admit, I'm succumbing to a little of the ‘gotta write the first review' fever. That's all right though, because with all the excitement surrounding the launch of Nintendo's new system, I figured gamers would be eager to get their greedy little fingers on as much software insight as possible.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a sleek, stylish delve into the world of surgery. As far as software complimenting hardware goes, this game fits the Wii like a glove. (And, much to any Nintendo fanboys' delight, would easily play like garbage on the 360 or PS3) Sadly, I never played the original Trauma Center, even though I own a DS (blasphemy!). Despite that, Second Opinion is quickly becoming one of my favorite Wii launch titles, and doesn't require any experience with the prequel to be understood or enjoyed. The game offers an intriguing and engaging mix of science and medicine, drama, memory recall, nerves of steel, quick thinking, and very intense moments of focus and concentration.

The control scheme is intuitive, and becomes second-nature after a while. The wiimote becomes the “surgeons' hand”, so to speak, with a cursor that looks like a laser-pointer showing you precisely where your aim lies. The nunchuck control serves as a palette for your instruments; a quick flick of your thumb will select the tool appropriate for the job. That is, if you can remember what tools to use for each job. Use the wrong tool, or perform the steps of an operation out of order, and not only will your score for that level suffer, but your patient may slip closer towards the brink of death. As the surgeries increase in difficulty, several multi-step procedures will need to be performed during each, all within a particular time frame, and all with a reasonable amount of accuracy.

As you work your way up the food chain, your assistant will walk you through any unfamiliar territory during each surgery. (Obviously, this will include almost every move you make at first) As a catch-22 to this, the assistant will also expect you to remember things from previous experiences, so pay attention! You'll occasionally assume the roles of other surgeons, and perform operations specific to their areas of expertise. For example, once you've excised a few tumors and perfected your suturing skills, you'll jump over to Orthopedics and try your hands at bone surgery. While the plot isn't exactly the most thrilling ever, outside of an aspiring surgeon's quest to gain the respect of his peers (and perfect his secret art, which I won't tell you about), the story honestly doesn't add or detract anything from the game.

The graphics are adequate, for the type of game that it is. As many times as I've heard the brainless “Wii graphics aren't as good as the PS3 or 360” statement, I think in the case of Second Opinion it really doesn't matter. Sure, the pooling of blood could have been a little more realistic, and somehow no matter how badly a suture job is done, the end result is always picture perfect; those are but minor imperfections. Small things like those will detract someone with a keen eye, but at base level, the average graphics have very little negative effect on the addictive game play and overall excitement involved.

Overanalyzing the sound in Second Opinion would be like overanalyzing the graphics in Guitar Hero – it's simply not an integral factor to making the game succeed. As someone who usually remains unfazed while watching Trauma: Life in the ER (or any other reality hospital show), and can stomach the ultra-bloody, I may have appreciated a more realistic sucking sound as wounds are cleared of blood, or perhaps the slight squishing or squashing of organs being moved or the suturing needle piercing skin. Again, all things that would have pushed the enjoyment factor that little bit, but in no way are essential to playing the game. The music is very appropriate, when there is any, and while none of the tunes are of award-winning quality, they're also not intrusive when it comes to concentrating.

The replay factor is quite high, as you can not only go back and hone your skills at certain surgeries, but each operation may be attempted on one of three difficulty levels. Even if you're playing the game through as a rookie on Easy mode, and tackle a procedure you'd like to try on Medium or Hard mode, you can switch the difficulty on the fly and try it immediately, instead of having to work your way through all of the preceding surgeries on the same level.

This game obviously won't be for everybody. I went out on a limb and bought it, but only because I'm huge into a good medical thriller, and I had faith that the Wii's control scheme would breathe new life into this already successful series (which it did). I think some fun mini-games, or at least a practice mode, would have helped cater a little more to the “A.D.D. generation”, but in a way I'm kind of glad they didn't. Atlus stuck with it, and delivered a straightforward product, with not much to cater to "little Billy" who likes to button mash and blow stuff up before he gets sidetracked yet again. Good – little Billy sucks anyway, and he'd probably perform a horrible appendectomy.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/06


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