This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Having been burned by Lifesigns, another hospital simulation on the Nintendo DS, I was keen to have a spin at the more popular Trauma Center: Under the Knife. Those of you who read my Lifesigns review will remember that I was frustrated by the RPG/visual novel aspects and minigames. Fortunately, these are mainly absent in Trauma Center: this game is all about surgery, surgery, surgery! Slicing flesh! Draining fluids! Injecting serums! Excising tumours! Sewing the patient back up again afterwards! Man, if I could just find a game which gives me all the thrills and excitement of violating people’s bodies with surgical equipment I’d be a happy man
and wouldn’t have to kill so many hookers.
Instead, Trauma Center advances the plot with short (no more than a couple of minutes) non-interactive dialogue sequences between the surgeries, which includes a quick pre-surgery briefing so you have some idea of what to do. Another one of my problems with Lifesigns was that it guided you by the hand a little too much – you were told precisely what to do, when, and shown how to do it all the time. Trauma Center gives you a little more credit than that; after guiding you through the first few surgeries, it gives you free reign to do what you need to do; little icons at the side of the screen give you access to the full range of surgical tools provided. It is also somewhat more forgiving than Lifesigns – although it is still fundamentally a “Do It Again, Stupid” game – and you can boost your patient’s lifesigns (giving you much-needed extra time and leeway to make a few mistakes) by injecting them with a nasty-looking green serum.