Review: Trauma Center: Second Opinion (Nintendo Wii)

Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: 11/19/06
System: Wii

Trauma Center: Under the Knife was one of the best games of 2005. Without question, Trauma Center was a hallmark of the Nintendo DS. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s easily one of the strongest reasons to own a DS. Color me surprised when Atlus announced that they would be remaking Trauma Center for the Wii, and it was a launch game.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is one of the highest profile releases this year for the Nintendo Wii given the huge cult following of the original. The question becomes is the game a good pun involving doctors or a bad pun involving a euphemism for dying? Read on sweet hearted reader as I take you through the wonderful world of Trauma Center: Second Opinion (despite the fact if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been here once before things look a little too similar if you know what I mean).

1. Story

Set in the year 2018, Trauma Center: Second Opinion is quite the odd duck. Dr. Derek Stiles is the rookie doctor who has just arrived at Hope Hospital, one of the most advanced hospitals in the entire world. As he performs surgeries, he discovers that he has the miraculous healing touch, a dangerous ability for a doctor to work at super human speeds with his miraculous hands. Heâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s joined by a young nurse named Angie Thompson who is constantly questioning Derekâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s abilities. The story takes a turn for the strange when Stiles encounters a mutated virus known as GUILT (Gangliated Utrophin Immuno Latency Toxin). GUILT is being used by a bio-terrorists group known as Delphi. Delphi is trying to destroy the world becauseâ┚¬Â¦ wellâ┚¬Â¦ they love death. Derek joins a group of doctors dedicated to stopping global health threats as well as bioterrorism.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a bit over the top at times, and really, really absurd. Still, the core story of a man coming of age as a doctor is rather touching. Derek and Angie are really wonderfully endearing characters. Furthermore, the vast majority of the doctors and other supporting characters in Trauma Center come off as dynamic. The story of Trauma Center might be relatively ridiculous, but it is touching in many parts.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion offers a great degree of unintentional comedy with its overly serious story. For example, Derek is a descendent from the Greek god of medicine Asclepius able to practice the â┚¬Å”Healing Touchâ┚¬Â which is essentially bullet time in medicine. In spite of this, Trauma Center: Second Opinion has several poignant moments. The story is silly and absurd, but it never stops being compelling. The turn towards GUILT takes the game firmly out of reality which is a bit disappointing as there were several different ways to make this game stay more grounded without compromising the gameplay. Trauma Center: Second Opinion has a flawed but ultimately charming story.

Score: 7 out of 10


2. Graphics

The surreal look of the first Trauma Center is expanded upon in this â┚¬Å”Wii-makeâ┚¬Â. Trauma Center: Second Opinion looks like youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re operating on a rave, not a person. Thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s probably a good thing considering how queasy some people (read: me) get when watching a surgery. In other words, thank goodness this game isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t gross. As far as characters out of surgery look, theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re all static images. The higher resolution pictures look nice and the backgrounds are a bit more complex. The game has a much more adult look to it.

Trauma Center is a very simplistic game in terms of graphics. Animations are smooth and crisp, and the game has a distinct look to it. The problem with this is the same problem with most Wii games though. The graphics just arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t that impressive. Theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re smooth and they look nice, but thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s no animation outside of surgery. It feels like youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re playing a Bishojo game without all of the creepiness. The look is effective, but the graphics are only a slight improvement over the DS.

Score: 7 out of 10


3. Sound

Trauma Center: Second Opinion features largely the same soundtrack that the original game had only tweaked up a bit. The gameâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s music now has a techno twinge to it as synthesizers are more present. The music also is much more in the forefront of the game. The problem with Trauma Center: Second Opinionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s soundtrack is that it just seems to be a step backwards from the DS game. The score, while adding tension to surgery, almost comes in too strong most of the time. The game constantly walks the line of being extremely intense and almost comical in how incredibly serious it is. Furthermore, the rescored music just doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t sound right this time around. Perhaps itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s because I played so much of the original Trauma Center that I â┚¬Å”knowâ┚¬Â what Trauma Center should sound like, but something still feels off to me.

The new voices of each character fit the new look of Trauma Center well. The original DS game sounded â┚¬Å”youngerâ┚¬Â while the new Trauma Center sounds older. Thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s really no good way to put this. Trauma Center: Second Opinionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s voice actors just sound more mature then they did in the original game. The problem with this again is that Trauma Center Second Opinion doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t bridge the gap from beyond the handheld simply because the vocal acting is so limited. Seeing a few other games at launch that have hundreds of characters all with voice acting makes this even more disappointing.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion tries to differentiate its soundtrack just a little bit, but ultimately fails in some key ways. The music just doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have the same sort of subtle impact that it did in the original despite being much more of a participant in the action. The voices although much more mature fail to get enough play in the game as TC: 2nd Opinion is still a largely silent game. In sum total, the game is rather mediocre in the sound department.

Score: 5 out of 10


4. Control/Gameplay

Put everything else aside in this review. The real question of how good of a game Trauma Center: Second Opinion is comes whether or not the game controls well. The short answer is yes. The long answer is:

â┚¬Å”Trauma Center: Second Opinion takes a different approach then the original DS game. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a bit startling at first but eventually grows and feels natural. Rather then having to point at whatever tool you want to use and selecting it, you quickly press on one direction of the nunchuk to make a selection. One movement of the analog stick and itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s in your hand. The selection process is fast, simple, and effective. The other change youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll notice is that the DS game is much more forgiving. In addition to having three different difficulties (something that kept a lot of people from playing more of the first one), Trauma Center: Second Opinion allows for a much greater range of error.

For example, when using the scalpel, you need quickly run it across a dotted yellow line, hitting each of the dots. You wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t butcher the patient unless you go pretty far off of it (on normal and easy at least). Everything has been made simpler. The healing salve comes out in bigger globs, stitches allow you a great range of motion, and so on and so on. Thankfully the hard difficulty has that old school challenge in it, but the vast majority of the game is more forgiving since youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re essentially going from writing with a pen to writing with a laser pointer.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion also fixes some of the major flaws of the first gameâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s controls. The magnifying glass works perfectly now. You just point and click and boom, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve zoomed in. The new tool, the defibrillator has a great feel and rumble to it. The addition of it doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t add a lot to the game, but it adds enough along with the control scheme for this to feel like a brand new game.

Speaking of controls, the Wii-mote is wonderfully intuitive in its execution. Everything feels right. For example, when using the forceps you need to push down on both the A and the B buttons on the top and the bottom of the screen to clamp with them. Coupled with the implementation of a very basic combo system that shows you how many â┚¬Å”rightâ┚¬Â moves you make, Trauma Center shines in all the right places. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the little attention to detail that makes Trauma Center: Second Opinion one of the strongest experiences on Nintendoâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s game play featured system.â┚¬Â

Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s good. Really, really good. A bit too forgiving at times (Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve made some awful stitches that still come out as â┚¬Å”goodâ┚¬Â or â┚¬Å”coolâ┚¬Â rather then â┚¬Å”badâ┚¬Â or â┚¬Å”missâ┚¬Â), but still really, really good.

Score: 9 out of 10


5. Replay Value

Trauma Center: Second Opinion offers two new levels of difficulty and several new surgeries. The addition of a new doctor, Nozomi Weaver, with an all new healing touch adds a reason to go back and play through the game again. The missions are challenging enough and varied enough that youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll be wading through Trauma Center for a significant amount of time. Granted, it isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t Zelda time, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s still a very deep and rich game length.

Score: 8 out of 10


6. Balance

Trauma Center 1.5 is much more balanced then the original game. The ability to select different difficulties now allows people to not throw their Wii-mote across the room (well, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s tethered anyways) the way some styluses did. The only problem is that the easier difficulties seem to have over compensated a bit. â┚¬Å”Hardâ┚¬Â still has some more challenging missions (see the X-missions), but ultimately, â┚¬Å”Normalâ┚¬Â mode takes a bit too long to progress into the same stride that the DS game did. Still, Trauma Center: Second Opinion offers a ton of options for every game player allowing veterans to hop right back in or newbies to practice on a rubber dummy with a â┚¬Å”My First Scalpelâ┚¬Â.

Score 8 out of 10


7. Originality

Considering weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve seen Trauma Center: Under the Knife just slightly over a year ago, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not surprising that the â┚¬Å”Wii-makeâ┚¬Â suffers when it comes to originality. The game has a new feel to it due to the controls and a few missions, but thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s about it. The story is almost exactly the same. Youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve still got pretty much the same doctor tools. Youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re still fighting those wacky GUILT strains. TC 1.5 isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t as original as its DS game, but it still is different enough from every other game on the market to raise its score above average a little.

Score: 6 out of 10


8. Addictiveness

Second Opinion is a great game that sucks you in. As a launch game, this will almost certainly end up being a title that most people either pick up and are playing for months on end or find on clearance as a hidden gem. Regardless of when you get it or how you get it once you get it youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll um get it! The only thing that hurts Trauma Center is the fact that itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s no longer portable. Playing it is now more of an event which makes it less of an â┚¬Å”Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve got three free minutes, prep me for surgery nurseâ┚¬Â experience and more of a â┚¬Å”time to spend a few hours in the operating roomâ┚¬Â experience. Maybe itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s that Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve been spoiled by portables, but I prefer the former to latter any day of the week. Regardless, I find myself going back to Trauma Center: Second Opinion as much as any other launch game Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve picked up.

Score: 8 out of 10


9. Appeal Factor

â┚¬Å”Cult hit DS gameâ┚¬Â was a relatively meaningless term about a year ago back when the system was still trying to grow into the beast it would ultimately become. The popularity of the DS game coupled with both the fact it fits perfectly into the Wiiâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s launch stylistically and the difficulty of finding the original makes Trauma Center Second Opinion a very appealing game. The only thing that may scare a few people away is the complexity of the controls. Even though they are intuitive, there are a lot of different devices youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re required to use to progress in the game. It ainâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t brain surgery but it is open heart surgery, so to speak. Still, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a high quality launch title, a game with a large cult following, and a game that is different enough to stand out from the rest of the launch games. Trauma Center: 2nd Opinion is (as amazing as this sounds) a title from Atlus that will appeal to the public on the larger scale. Shocking, no?

Score: 8 out of 10


10. Miscellaneous

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a very good game, but it isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t as good as Under the Knife. I think this is still because of the controls, but regardless, I still felt like playing the DS game any day of the week over the Wii game. I suppose Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢m just disappointed that there isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t more to this game then there is, but it still is bothering me. Donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t get me wrong, Trauma Center: Second Opinion is well worth buying even if you have put hundreds of scratches in your DS playing it. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just that this is a step in place for the franchise rather then either backwards or forwards in every aspect of the game aside from it getting to a larger audience now.

Score: 6 out of 10


Final Scores
Story: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 5/10
Controls: 9/10
Replay Value: 8/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 6/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Appeal: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 6/10
Total Score: 72/100
Final Score: 7.0 (GOOD!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Trauma Center: Second Opinion does a lot right besides being completely mediocre in the sound department. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just that if youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve played the original Trauma Center (which you should have) the only reason to play this one is the new controls. The added content differentiates the two a little bit, but not enough to make this game as stellar as the initial experience of the DS title. If you donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t mind playing essentially the same game or youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re questioning what game besides Zelda you should pick up at launch, Trauma Center is a really viable option.