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Review – Trauma Center: Second Opinion

posted on January 2nd, 2007 by matt

After their small splash in the DS world with last year’s Under the Knife, Atlus has rolled out the operating table once again with Wii’s Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Atlus showed us a great way to use the touch-screened handheld with Under the Knife, but have they done the same for the Wii and its innovative wii-mote? Even without a medical license, I can easily prescribe Second Opinion.

If you’ve ever played the board game Operation, then you have a small inkling of what to expect from Trauma Center. You play as Derek Stiles, a rookie doctor that has just finished his residency at Hope Hospital, in fictitious Angeles Bay. At the beginning of the game, Derek acts a little lazy when dealing with the other doctors. He’s still young and in need of guidance. Luckily for him, he’s got some experienced assistants in the form of Greg Kasal (your mentor) and Angie Thompson (your nursing assistant). After many trials and tribulations, Derek soon becomes a crack doctor, saving people left and right.

The secret hidden level is a new puzzle game called Tumortris.

The story is actually ripped right out of the DS version. If you’ve played the original one, you won’t really see anything new. It still deals with Derek’s Healing Touch power and the ever-powerful GUILT epidemic. Thankfully, Atlus has included a new side mission with Nozomi Weaver, a fallen-out Japanese doctor that also has the Healing Touch. These missions actually occur at the same time as the main story line, but don’t intercede until much later in the game. They’ve also taken out the DS’s 6th Chapter and added a new ending, one that shows what happens after the GUILT outbreak.

These two additions do add a lot to the title, especially with the new operations, but the game is still based on what was established in the DS version. Just be wary about what you’re getting in to. I would have liked a little more in terms of new content, but even after playing the DS version multiple times, I still found Second Opinion to be enjoyable.

The real meat of the game is, of course, the operating table. Missions run from excising tumors to heart transplants. Later in the game you’ll come across an insect-like virus called GUILT that comes in many different forms. I always preferred the reality-based operations, but the GUILT ones really get your adrenalin pumping, seeing as how they are alive and moving around.

Using the instruments has never felt better. If you want a game that truly shows the capabilities of the Wii, then Second Opinion would be a safe bet. Using the wii-mote, you can suture wounds, pick stuff up with the forceps (holding A and B at the same time), and cut open your patient with the scalpel. They even have a mission where you have to rotate bone fragments by physically rotating the wii-mote.

Blah blah blah blah blah…

The controls are, in one word, phenomenal. You will have a lot of fun playing the next-gen version of Operation on the Wii. And don’t worry about having to be perfect. The developers are very lenient on stuff like suturing. You don’t need pin-point precision to get a “Cool” rating.

To complement the intuitive wii-mote controls, Atlus has mapped the instrument selection to the nun-chuck, making tool selections quick and painless. You don’t have to pick up your stylus, stopping whatever you were doing, and select the next tool, like the DS version. You just push the requisite angle on the analog stick. You can be amazingly quick with this control setup, and makes getting those higher rankings for the operations much easier. In many ways, the Wii version is the definitive version of Trauma Center. I sometimes have trouble going back to the DS version, seeing as how good the Wii one controls.

We also get a new instrument in the form of the Defibrillator, which you use by pushing both the wii-mote and nun-chuck forward at the same time. It’s cool, but sometimes doesn’t work properly. If you just give it some practice, you’ll be bringing back people from the dead in no time. You’ll see a few more tools later in the game, but I don’t want to spoil too much.

Thankfully (and I mean thankfully), Atlus has given us individual difficulty settings. The DS version was honestly one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. It was supposed to be hard, to drive the fact that saving lives isn’t easy, but sometimes I nearly broke my DS. This is not so with Second Opinion. Now we have Easy, Normal, and Hard, helping us save our sanities. It’s still difficult, especially on Hard, but definitely not as bad as before. I got through Easy without having any major problems.

Inner organs or abstract painting?

The only thing I don’t like about the presentation is the sliding sprites when the characters have dialogue. It works on a handheld, but not a home console. It just looks like they cut corners or something. Also, there is very little spoken dialogue. We really only get a few lines, and they are mostly reserved for the operating table. It would have been cool if they added more, seeing as how they have DVD’s and not cartridges to work with now.

If you’ve never played the DS version, then Second Opinion will be amazing. You should buy it immediately with that money you just got from the holidays. If you have played Under the Knife, give Second Opinion at least a rental. Using the wii-mote is a lot of fun, and you should definitely see how good a doctor game can be on the Wii.

On a side note, I would like to suggest to Atlus that Trauma Center be the first big game to utilize the “episodic content” feature that Nintendo has with it’s download service. Release a short mission with five or so operations for $10, and you will have a hit on your hands. It would be like an ER, but without George Clooney.

7 Comments

  1. Christian said on January 2, 2007:

    I must be pretty clumsy, because I’m always messing up my tool selections  on the nunchuk, slipping one past the thing I need or something.  Would make my life a lot easier.  Only genuine problem I’m having with the game so far is that the healing touch isn’t as easy as I’d like it to be (or again, I might just be a retard)

  2. matt said on January 2, 2007:

    Yeah, at some points in the beginning I would mess up with the tool selections that way. At the very beginning, I would actually scroll through them all for some reason. Call me retarded, I guess. At the end though, I was hitting those tools with precision. The game then flew by, especially ones that I was trying to get S’s on.

  3. chris said on January 2, 2007:

    I started playing the DS version a while ago and it’s great so far, although yes, it is pretty hard.  With individual difficulty settings it seems like it would be a lot more fun.  I wonder if the next Trauma Center will have multiplayer?  Co-op or versus could be pretty nifty.

  4. Stefan said on January 2, 2007:

    Versus surgery?  Taking advantage of my patient’s now-stabilized condition, I reach over and quickly slash your patient’s coronary artery with my scalpel!  I’d like to see you heal him _now_!

  5. Matt said on January 2, 2007:

    Well, an interesting thing happened, chris, where users created a co-op mode. "Nurse Mode" they called it, where one player held the wiimote and the other the nun-chuck, selecting the next tool. That’s pretty neat, I think.

  6. Christian said on January 2, 2007:

    In that case matt, how do you choose the "nurse" out of the two friends?

  7. Matt said on January 2, 2007:

    Who’s ever hotter:)

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