About 2 weeks ago I picked up Trauma Center: Under the Knife for my nintendo DS. I finally beat the game a few days ago and have mixed feelings about the game. Its certainly an interesting game and, could have certainly been a perfect 10 game had a bit more time been spent on certain things.
Lets start from the beginning, the story. As some of you may know, you play the role of a doctor, Derek Stiles a young new Doctor getting his feet wet in the world of operation. You soon prove to have great potential and soon begin to gain recognition. Then as unexpected as a plot twist in a daytime soap opera, a new disease emerges and spreads. An epidemic occurs and its up to you to use your skills to save the world! As my last sentence hints, the story is filled with more clichés then a japanese RPG. Everything from, "Is there a doctor on this plane!?" operating on an airplane to being "the chosen one", this game has it all. While the game tries to express an idealistic point of view, that could serve as a good debate in some college philosophy class, the dialogue seemed pretty boring and uninteresting. In the end I didn't care for any justification for anything in the game. I just wanted to beat it. crash.gif

The game uses two visual styles to deliver this dramatic tale. First is the 3D operation screen. Using your stylus and the touch screen you will make incisions, suture wounds, inject fluids, apply disinfectant, and other various medical treatments on your patients. The touch screen was very responsive and quite precise with little to no inaccuracies. The body parts and organs all seemed to be represented as how one could possibly expect it to be. Any interaction by the player on the body can be expected to be represented quite nicely on the body. You make a wrong cut, it shows. You mis-traget with your laser surgery tool, and the organ tissue is burned. It all came together nicely. While I was pretty satisfied with the operation screens, I couldn't say the same for the story scenes. The 2nd visual style. Just like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the DS, its presented in the ever popular anime style. But unlike Phoenix Wright its not all that great. The characters are all over simplified and begin to assimilate with each other. The colors are quite drab with little detail. Plus the lack of different expressions is pretty dissapointing. About 2 or 3 boring poses for each character. I know the game was trying to come across as dramatic and serious, but that doesn't mean the characters or pouring their soul out, or trying to be humerous that they couldn't show any emotion. It all just seemed to scream lazy to me.
The audio of the game isn't the greatest as well. The sound effects sound nice and convincing. But with like probably only 4 or 5 tracks and only 2 that could be enjoyed becuase of the heat of the moment, I felt it was pretty weak. The operation songs help to add the pressure to the moment, the lack of variation left me wanting for more. mog.gif

So with what may seem like a lot of bad things going for it, how can Trauma Center not recieve bad reviews? The answer would be the gameplay. Careful observation of the gameplay reveals that inside the heart of this game lies the soul of a twitch based shooter. As mentioned before, the gameplay was intense. Now I think I'm a pretty physically fit person. I perform a rigourus stretching routine every morning before I go run my daily 2 miles every morning, followed by 2 sets of push-ups and sit-ups. I also regulate what foods I eat. I'm about 6'1 with an average weight of 195lbs. Therefore I find it hard to believe that a game can make my whole body sweat from pressure, while sitting down... The game is very difficult. I would go as far as to say, Ninja Gaiden for X-box difficult. In fact, I don't ever recall sweating from my forehead while playing Ninja Gaiden. I was able to beat the game in just a few minutes under 8 hours, but believe me, it took longer then that. I would fail an operation and not even bother looking at the game for 3 days. This game can certainly be a catalyst to grey hair. You must perform various procedures quickly and precisly. Quick thinking of which of the multiple problems to focus on first can be quite enjoyable, as well as being able to perform the procedure correcty. This game is best played in small doeses becuase of its intensity. The action gets so intense that you are given a bullet time like ability called, "The Healing Touch." Just like you may have already assumed, you slow time around you and are able to react and move quicker then a normal person could ever hope to move. But once you finally surmount this beast of a game., there is no other reason to play the game again unless you want to beat your previous rankings on past surgeries. Unfortunately for me. the gameplay was too much for my feeble heart to handle so once I beat it, I didn't bother to give it another try. boo.gif

In closing, while the game has quite a few unsatisfactory points, it does what it is ment to do quite well. Offer the player a challenge while being enjoyable and engaging. The games gamplay more then makes up for the games downfalls. Since the game is being discontinued, I would imagine that it will eventually become a highly prized collectors item. For any DS owners who don't consider themselves, hardcore gamers and are contemplating on purchasing this game, I would consider renting it first since its pretty intense for the casual gamer. But none the less I agree that it is a game that should be played at least once by any DS owner and I mean besides, who would expect medical surgery to be an easy thing? I feel strongly that, the first experience with the game will convince the user to most likely purchase this game. guitarist.gif