Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Trauma Team is a fancier version of the classic board game Operation married to an anime soap opera
- New play modes provide much needed variety, challenging gameplay, genuinely good use of the Wii controls
- Some play modes work better than others, requires too much precision at times, storylines are disposable.
Even though it's occasionally bogged down by unwieldy precision-based controls and a somewhat silly storyline, Trauma Team captures what made the Trauma Center games great, and expands on the tried-and-true medical formula with a wide assortment of new doctors, specialties, and gameplay flourishes.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
If you've never played a Trauma Center game, it's basically a fancier version of the classic board game Operation married to an anime soap opera. Various patients are presented to you with different ailments, and using a doctor's toolset -- complete with some high-tech gadgetry that is more sci-fi than ER as well as some psychic powers -- you root out the malicious causes. The series was successful on both the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii, but the formula was starting to get a little long in the tooth.
That's precisely why the latest instalment, Trauma Team, is so successful: it improves on its predecessors by offering a greater sense of variety. Rather than trap you in the role of one or two super surgeons, Trauma Team lets you play as six different doctors, each of whom offer their own unique style of gameplay. Some team members, like the general surgeon, offer an experience that's identical to previous titles, while new additions like the endoscopic, diagnostic, and forensic procedures bring entirely new experiences to the series.
Unfortunately, the modes vary in terms of overall quality. The endoscopic procedures, for example, are interesting, but the controls are a bit unwieldy. Movement requires a constant and awkward pushing motion with the Wii remote that never quite feels natural. Comparatively, the EMT mode's focus on speed and time management is a welcome change from the accuracy obsessed gameplay of general and orthopaedic surgery. The forensic and diagnosis roles are also a bit more methodical and provide an experience akin to the Ace Attorney games; there's a focus on finding clues in order to discover the truth about a patient's illness or cause of death. These changes may turn off franchise purists, but they help keep things from feeling stale and dated.
The soap opera that frames the gameplay could use some more work, however. Each doctor has his or her own storyline, but they're not particularly interesting or engaging; I wouldn't be surprised if most gamers just skipped them in lieu of the gameplay. I also wish the developers had been more careful when it came to balancing the difficulty; some of the surgeries require an insane amount of precision, something the Wii's motion controls don't always facilitate -- especially for the shaky of hand. The game is also strangely unforgiving when it comes to accuracy; I understand that removing glass from someone's lung requires a deft touch, but do I really need to be as careful when I'm throwing that same piece of glass into the trash? Of course not, yet, if you're off even by a few inches, the game will penalise you. The in-game instructions are also obscure at times, leading to a lot of confusion over what you're supposed to do and how.
But despite these issues, Trauma Team still offers an enjoyable experience that continues the tradition of medical excellence the series is known for. It caters to the core fanbase while offering enough new content to keep things from growing stale. It may get overlooked with bigger Wii titles like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M on the horizon, but for fans of the earlier titles, it's definitely worth a purchase.
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