Review by DJ cream

"Trauma Center resuscitates any DS downtime"

Remember that good old board game called Operation? It's been nearly over 40 years since that game was invented in 1965; finally there is a game that takes the same concept and puts a challenging, modern-day spin. Trauma Center: Under the Knife is a very unique game that focuses on surgical-based procedures. While the external features boasts no extraordinary symptoms that indicates an impulse purchase, upon opening its chest cavity reveals one of the most heart-pounding, eye-swelling, knuckle-busting, mind-numbing experiences that the Nintendo DS can offer.

Trauma Center is based on the operations performed by rookie doctor turned counter-terrorist physician, Derek Stiles. With the setting taking place in the near future, medical advancements are noticeable. However, new and unknown viruses also inhabit the world and Dr. Stiles finds himself in the middle of a bio-terrorist outbreak. With his trusty assistant, Angie Thompson, they encounter and treat the GUILT (Gangliated Utrophin Immuno Latency Toxin) epidemic.

The story does set a very surreal environment as it's not too far into the future to sound too far-fetched. I enjoyed how the story progresses as old friends and siblings are treated by one another like an episode of General Hospital (note: I'm a guy, so I wouldn't really know that. It's just a guess that it would resemble an episode of General Hospital). With a lot of mellow drama action and a cast of loveable (and the ones that I love to hate) I actually enjoy the dialogues that may take up to 10 minutes in between operations. In addition, the select button can easily blast through all the briefing to allow players to get to the real meat of the game.

About 99% of the game requires the stylus to play the game. During operations, one doesn't need to draw the straightest line to make an incision; however, one does have to keep the stylus moving because there are so many things to do at once. The game focuses on standard operation procedures as it does not allow any free-form, impromptu operations to be made. Although one can easily be rushed during a procedure, one has to follow certain steps for certain operations. I do not like the linear gameplay; however, since I have no doctor's credentials, I can't really explain any other way to perform a tissue extraction. Overall, operating is a combination of the mind and reflexes. Trauma Center puts both to good use as the puzzle to figure out the steps to cure the patient must also be done within a small time frame.

Another thing that TC does well is pound on the challenge. I realized that a gimmicky game like the Eye-Toy for the PS2 has to pack a challenge or the gimmick quickly fades away for being too easy. Recognizing this and the fact that doctor games can't do any other activities other operating, Atlus makes a good move in making the main story worth the entire effort of the game. However, I can't help but think that may have put in a little too much challenge in the game to cause a very alert and dexterous gamer like myself to commit an hour of retries to successfully complete a two-minute operation. Also in that same hour, gripping the puny stylus with an iron fist becomes a bit painful.

While the gameplay is very alluring, the look and feel of the game is equally as alluring. Being the anime-lover that I am, I don't mind seeing the cast and crew of the hospital to be rendered in an anime-like style. Add that to a smooth, enchanting theme in between operations and you get a great scene to watch like one of those shoujo/girly anime shows. Now once the patient hits the table, the mood does shift dramatically. The tone of the BGM gets heavier as the tempo increases exponentially and the bass beat becomes bolder.

In a nutshell, Trauma Center: Under the Knife puts its players in an exciting and important scenario. The experience easily latches on like a parasite, thus becoming a very addictive game. Combining an intense mental challenge to match the rapid wrist movement, Trauma Center does make a good game to add to any DS player's collection.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/23/05

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