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Wii Review - 'Trauma Center: Second Opinion'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 27, 2006 @ 3:57 a.m. PST

Dr. Derek Stiles is back, but he’s not the only surgeon on call—a new player joins the team, bringing along everything the doctor ordered: difficulty modes, new surgical implements like the defibrillator, and an exciting never-before-seen conclusion. So what are you waiting for? If one dose of Trauma Center wasn’t enough, it’s time you got a Second Opinion!

Genre: Simulation
Publisher: Atlus Co.
Developer: Atlus Co.
Release Date: November 19, 2006

Like its DS counterpart, Trauma Center: Second Opinion tells the story of Dr. Derek Stiles, a rookie doctor. Lazy and not particular competent, Dr. Stiles halfheartedly does his job until a tragic accident causes him to learn he has the Healing Touch. A supernatural ability, the Healing Touch grants Dr. Stiles the power to slow the passage of time, allowing him to perform complex operations seemingly instantly. When a mysterious new virus known as GUILT begins to surface, only Dr. Stiles' amazing new talent and skill can save his patients from disaster.

To those who played the DS version of Trauma Center, this plot is going to sound terribly familiar. In all honestly, for most of the game, you are simply reliving the events of Trauma Center over again, although the plot does diverge slightly toward the end. This is a bit frustrating for veterans of the first title, as it makes some of the scenarios feel like something you've done before. Thankfully, Trauma Center: The Second Opinion does feature some new missions, modified versions of older missions and a second playable character, Dr. Weaver, to keep things fresh.

All of Trauma Center's gameplay takes place on the operating table. The game switches to a view from Dr. Stiles as he looks down at his patient. You take control of Dr. Stiles using the Wiimote to mimic the various tools, cutting, stitching and otherwise trying your hardest to keep your patient alive. The patient's vitality is monitored by a bar at the top of screen, and with every moment, it drops lower. A mistake causes the bar to drop drastically, and when it hits 0, the game is over. Be warned: The game isn't very forgiving of mistakes, and a single moment can be the difference between life and death. Luckily for those who had trouble with the DS version, Second Opinion features Easy, Normal and Hard modes. Unlike the DS version of Trauma Center, players select their tools using the Nunchaku attachment on the Wiimote; pointing the analog stick in one of eight directions picks one of the eight tools.

The most common tool you'll use is the scalpel. While most of the time, Dr. Stiles or Dr. Weaver use the scalpel for its intended purpose of cutting, there are a few occasions where it doubles as a screwdriver or other tool. Using it is as simple as moving the Wiimote in a straight line while holding down the B button. While it takes a bit of getting used to, I actually found this a bit more comfortable to use then the DS' stylus, and found myself consistently getting "Cools" on anything involving a scalpel.

Next up is the laser, which, after the scalpel, is the most common instrument. A high-tech precision instrument, the laser fires a searing-hot blast at a location specified by the Wiimote's pointer. While this is designed for eliminating tumors, the laser becomes your primary weapon against GUILT as well. Although you may need to use other means to weaken the deadly virus, the laser is the primary way to kill the annoying little buggers. Thanks to the Wiimote's accuracy, using the laser is a breeze.

Forceps are probably the next most commonly used tool, and one of the ones that really makes full use of the Wiimote. Players position the pointer over the object (or objects) that need to be moved and press the A and B buttons on the Wiimote to "grab" them, mimicking the actual feel of a forceps. The object then can be moved around, or in some cases, moved in 3D by moving the controller closer or farther from the screen. Of all the tools modified in Second Opinion, the forceps is by far the coolest. The combination of unique controls and 3D movement really shows off what the Wii is capable of.

The rest of the tools don't get as much play, but each has its moments. The Drain is used to suck unhealthy fluid from the patient quickly and easily. If a single tool has been significantly downgraded from its DS counterpart, the Drain would be it. In the DS version, players had to place the tool in the infected area and then move the stylus upwards along the tube to drain the liquid. While not too difficult, it could be a bit frustrating and cause unlucky misses. The Wii version goes in the exact opposite direction: All one has to do to use the drain is point and hold a button. No muss, no fuss, and it makes things much easier. It's actually a bit disappointing, because when combined with the incredible ease of switching tools, it makes things far too simple, especially for a vet of the DS title.

Next up is the antibiotic gel, which is a new invention in the world of Trauma Center. A sort of miracle fluid, it is capable of closing small wounds and stopping infection, as well as restoring a small amount of the patient's vitality. Simply slathering it over an area uses it. Besides the antibiotic gel, players can also use the Syringe tool to restore health. Like the laser, the syringe is point-and-use, although players have to fill it up with a fluid beforehand. The most common fluid is the green healing gel that restores massive amounts of vitality to the patient, although some cases call for other types, such as an anti-inflammatory fluid.

Stitches are used to close up a wound, done by holding a button and moving the Wiimote back and forth across the wound to "draw" stitches. Like the drain, the stitches have been changed a bit from their DS counterpart: The grading is a lot more forgiving. A few zigzaggy lines can easily get a Cool rating that would have been a "Bad" in the DS version. Likewise, the Ultrasound/Magnification tool returns as well and is similarly simplified: a simple click of a button and you're zoomed in or out.

Finally, there is the Healing Touch. A special ability that only a few people in the world possess, the Healing Touch allows a doctor to access supernatural power, if only for a few seconds. This is done by pressing the "Z" button on the Nunchuck and then drawing a star on the screen. The cleaner and larger the star, the longer the Healing Touch lasts, and a Touch can only be used once a stage. Dr. Stiles' Healing Touch allows him to slow down time, causing everything but him to move at a snail's pace. Dr. Weaver, on the other hand, has a new kind of Touch. While it is active, successfully completing an action restores a lot of the patient's vitality. Repeated fast actions will keep a patient who would have fallen under Stiles' care near full health in Weaver's, and as such, the two doctors play significantly differently.

Beyond all of the returning tools, Trauma Center: Second Opinion also features a few new gadgets. In low-visibility situation, a flashlight is available. Rather than just controlling the light, you move it with the Wiimote and then "fix" it into position to be moved later. Also making its first appearance is the defibrillator, which is a common medical tool which was surprisingly absent from the DS counterpart. If a patient's heart stops beating, the doctors can use this to restart it with a massive jolt of electricity. The defibrillator is controlled by thrusting both remotes toward the screen, and then pressing a button when the charge is at maximum. Too slow, and it's a weaker charge, or even does nothing at all. While not particularly difficult to use, the defibrillator is surprisingly thrilling.

The two doctors use these tools in a number of different cases. While the primary kind of case in the game is the GUILT virus, there are a number of more normal cases available, although many of these have some kind of strange twist to them. Players will remove tumors, stitch wounds, set broken bones, perform open heart surgery on a car crash victim, or even in one unique instance, defuse a live bomb. Each case is different, although you'll be facing the same kind of GUILT more than once, which can get a little tiring. While Dr. Weaver's missions are all new cases, most of Dr. Stiles' are simply modified versions (usually easier) of his DS operations, although the ending section of the game features some significant changes. However, the new Wii control scheme means that even if a player has S-ranked these cases on his DS, things are different enough to justify giving the Wii version a shot.

If there's one major complaint about Trauma Center: Second Opinion, it's that it doesn't look "next-gen," but frankly, I'm rather glad about that. The intermission cut scenes are told through 2D still pans, featuring new artwork of all the characters. The operations, however, are all done in fairly simplistic 3D. While it isn't award-winning, or even the most realistic that a GameCube title could pull off, that's actually a blessing in disguise. The graphics are simplistic, and the surgery non-graphic enough that even the squeamish shouldn't feel too disturbed by that aspect of the game.

Audiowise, Trauma Center is mostly an improved version of the DS title. Dramatic music plays over the operation, adding a real sense of tension to each movement. All of the characters have significantly more voiced acted lines during operations, although the main storyline is still unvoiced. It's helpful to have Nurse Angie's quotes voiced, rather than risking taking your eyes off the screen for even a second. The acting is fairly good, for what little of it there is, but it feels like there could have been more. Like the graphics, the audio manages to pull off realistic sounds without going over the line into disgusting.

Honestly, I was a big fan of Trauma Center for the DS, and was absolutely ecstatic when I heard that a Wii version was being released. While I'm a bit disappointed in the relatively small amount of new content, the overall gameplay is solid and different enough from the DS counterpart to be worth playing. Veterans may find things a bit too easy once they adjust to the controls, but those who found the DS version too frustrating should feel right at home, especially with the new Easy mode. While the game isn't particularly long, there is a lot of fun to be had in trying to go back and get a better ranking on the various missions, or simply just replaying a favorite moment during some free time. Those looking for something to test out their new Wii controller should try out their skills on Trauma Center.

Score: 8.5/10

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