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August 2022

Surgeon Simulator 2

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Simulation
Developer: Bossa Studios
Release Date: Aug. 27, 2020


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PC Preview - 'Surgeon Simulator 2'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 13, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Surgeon Simulator 2 promises to inject a delirious dose of adrenaline straight into the heart of the original, cranking everything up to a whole new level.

If you wanted to pinpoint roughly when the simulator genre of games became farcical, you could look at April 2013, when Surgeon Simulator hit the scene. The controls were intentionally poor, and the physics were wildly inconsistent. The simple act of picking up anything was a chore, and while the game was very loose about how to do any surgeries, the high difficulty level and the obtuse control scheme ensured that failure was a constant in every playthrough. Despite this, the game found an audience that took in the absurdity of it all, while YouTube helped make it more popular than anyone expected it to be. Fast-forward seven years, and after a few forays into the VR space and an appearance on the Nintendo Switch, a sequel has emerged, and for those thinking that this would just be more of the same, they would be very mistaken. We took the closed beta of Surgeon Simulator 2 for a spin to see how different it is.

At its core, Surgeon Simulator 2 still revolves around performing surgery in a manner that is both simple and wrong, but it's not as gory as expected. Perform lung surgery, for example, and you need to take out the old lungs and toss in a few new ones. None of the other organs and bones matter for a successful surgery, but their removal or manipulation causes the patient to bleed out. The syringe filled with medicine to slow down and stop the bleeding is still available, and it's joined by a syringe that fills the patient with more blood to replace what was lost. Also new is the fact that you can take off and replace limbs wholesale. Grabbing a saw means that you can cleanly cut away a head and limbs, or you can yank on them until they rip out. Putting them back together requires you to get a fresh stock of what was missing and place it on the body until it snaps into place.

Surgery is much cleaner than before. Players of the first game will remember how breaking open the ribcage meant that you'd shatter the bones into several pieces, and the result can be a jagged mess before you even touch the organs. Here, smacking the ribs results in them splitting into two even halves. You also can't seem to put yourself into a drug-induced state with an accidental needle prick. Little things like that start to add up to the point where surgeries are much easier than both the original game and its VR iterations.

The control scheme is very different, to the point where you'll need to unlearn everything from the first game to deal with this one's nuances. Gone is the ability to manipulate each finger with its own individual key, so while it means that flashing hand signs is practically absent, it also means that grabbing objects is a one-button action that's activated by a left mouse click. You can still do some fine-tuning of your hand by holding down the right mouse button to rotate and bend your wrist, while holding the Shift key and moving the mouse lets you move your arm.

The need to hold down a button to do what simple mouse movement did before is necessary, since the game now lets you move around the environment. The change means that you have typical first-person shooter controls at play, but an outstretched left arm replaces the gun. Surgery means running between stations to dispense syringes and body parts while also looking at various monitors to check on the patient's stats, since everything is so spread out. The free-roaming nature of the game isn't immediately overwhelming, so solo players can still get things done, but the advantage clearly goes to those who choose to play in co-op with up to four players.

Come to grips with the new scheme and setup, and you'll realize that Surgeon Simulator 2 is more puzzle-heavy than before. You're still dealing with the flappy physics system, but now you're dealing with it in conjunction with things like finding the proper ID to open doors, activating switches, or finding fuses to connect currents to reach the rooms to obtain parts and tools. There's nothing here that's mind-bendingly difficult, but there's enough to challenge your expectations, since the first game was considered to be silly and without substance.

The campaign seems rather short. Not including the tutorial levels, there are only 12 stages, so once you come to grips with the controls and physics, the experience can seem rather brief, even if you play everything in both solo and multiplayer. That might feel problematic at first, since the game also runs on a system similar to battle royale titles where there is XP to gain, daily challenges gain bonus XP, and a rising meter of prizes can be gained in a season.

To help with the content issue, there's the level creation system, which turns off the physics system so that it's easy to place items in the world. The tools are deep, and there are lots of objects that you can play with, but it only takes a little bit of training before you can start pumping out your own online creations. In less than a day, the power and ease of the tools has proven itself, as there were a ton of levels available that spanned various themes from simple surgeries involving multiple organs and body parts to mazes and full-on heists that focused on the whacked-out physics rather than surgery. This definitely gives off some LittleBigPlanet vibes, and it seems that the game will have plenty of content long after the campaign's credits have rolled.

The closed beta for Surgeon Simulator 2 has shown that Bossa knows how to take its joke and run with it to some surprisingly good results. The control scheme is still tricky but easier to manage, and the physics produces some ridiculous situations. The level creation system and the ability to play with others will be responsible for winning over more people than before. If the full release at the end of August can live up to the promise of the beta and also irons out some of the crashes, Surgeon Simulator 2 would the perfect game to close out the summer.

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