Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trauma Team Review

Written by pikaby

Trauma Team may come as a huge change for diehard fans of the ol' frantic surgical action of Trauma Center, but rest easy, it stands out as tense, unique, and in every way a fitting addition to the series.

The first reaction you might get from anyone who's played one of these games before is the removal of main protagonist, Dr. Derek Stiles, instead putting you in the shoes of six different doctors, whom you might easily assume to have questionable personalities and less soul than the first miracle surgeon. It's almost like your mother throwing you out and you have to get used to six different foster parents, each with a different way of raising their kids. The second big change is the removal of the Healing Touch ability and all the man-made fantasy viruses like the infamous GUILT.

Don't throw your arms in the air just yet, because a doctor game is still a doctor game, and Trauma Center isn't ready to go all serious on us just yet. From the surface it may seem like this series has taken a turn to serious medical simulation, but play it and it's still the same tense story and amazing surgeons that save patients from the brink of death, and all of it is laced with humor, charisma and personality. Each doctor practically overflows with the stuff, and have their own story to tell.

At first, each doctor has six separate storylines, but each of them is connected to each other by the fact that they all work under the same roof (save for one). To push the point home that it's still a videogame in feel and less of a medical sim, all of them can be seen interacting with each other and goofing off in the lengthy cutscenes. After every one of them solves their own personal conflicts(which are as interesting as they come), the story unites into one. The presentation is fine enough. The comic-book feel lends itself well to the game, though I can't help but feel like some of these scenes drag on for too long, and you can't skip through text. There's also a noticeable long pause sometimes between dialogues. This one irks me a bit.

Moving on to the gameplay. Surgery is the same as always, with the same eight tools everyone should be familiar with. The removal of the time limit allows for Atlus to get more creative and frees up space for more complex procedures. First response puts you into the fast-paced world of first-aid for multiple patients, and you're tasked with keeping them all alive at once. Micromanagement is key here, but the number of tools have been reduced in exchange for juggling between patients. Hey, you're not Dr. Stiles anymore, this kind of thing really can't be handled by just one person.

Orthopedics is bone surgery, and is based on precision and accuracy, presented to you in the forms of cutting out synthetic bones in a specified shape, drilling holes and screwing plates to secure them in place, and so on. The treatment procedure for each bone is nearly the same, so orthopedics is one field that can get a little repetitive, and isn't helped by the fact that they last far longer than 5 minutes. Endoscopy made me feel a little claustrophobic, but it works, although the number of things you can treat while peering into the inner walls of blood vessels and the digestive tract is limited to only a handful. If it had more variety- oh wait, there is. It jigs things up a bit, but I won't spoil what it is. It has eight different tools from surgery, but switching between them is more fiddly (you have to hit C then choose your tool, then hit C again. It'd make more sense to hold down C and choose a tool, instead of having to tap it twice).

Diagnostics and forensics are the ones that deviate the most from the formula, but ironically diagnostics is my most favorite one of the bunch. Sure it's slow-paced, but that allows for tension to build up before you give your final diagnosis. You notice a bunch of strange symptoms, and in your uncertainty the music changes to match the mood. It works very well. It boils down to a game of 'find the difference' in CT scans and X-rays, or heart rates or different levels of hormones and blood cell counts, but it's a really good one. Forensics mimic the investigations found in Phoenix Wight games, find evidence, put them together and find the truth. The cases in this field are just as twisted and sick as in its inspiration, and very well executed.

So, how different is it from Trauma Center again? On the surface it may seem like an entirely different approach, but actually play it and it still holds the passion for storytelling and eye for good gameplay that every other Trauma Center game has in its heart. Look past the minor niggles and Trauma Team is a game that belongs in any good Wii collection.

Score: 9.0/10
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