Players of the Nintendo DS will no doubt
be aware of the first title in the Trauma Center line, but for those who
don't, here's the deal: Trauma Center is one of the most recent
breakthroughs in "nonviolent" gaming. In some ways related to the old
Frog, the Trauma Center titles put players in the
position of a surgeon in an emergency ward, trying to save patients who've
sustained pretty major injuries and need to be put back together.
On the DS, players did this with the
stylus, and that was hard enough.
For the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo saw an
opportunity, and gave a new challenge: this time, do it by using the Wii
Remote to manipulate tools without the benefit of touch.
Arguably, this makes the game a lot
tougher. Even though a television screen is bigger, performing the
operations on the DS is like working with a pen: trying to use the Wii
remote is like trying to write your name on a blackboard using a piece of
chalk tied to a 10-foot pole. That is to say, there's no element of real
feedback, so paying attention to where that light dot is on the screen, and
making small motions, is critical; simply by the difference in control
schemes, Second Opinion takes Trauma Center's level of difficulty and
learning curve, and increases them at least threefold.
To control this game, rather than the
touch pieces of the DS, control of which tool is being used switches to the
nunchuck directional stick, and motion/clutching (to use tools like a
forceps) switches to the Wii remote and the A and B buttons. There are
plenty of tools to use, passing from the basic syringes, disinfectants and
scalpel and into the more esoteric such as ultrasound, X-ray scans, and even
a laser scalpel to burn away diseased tissue.
Musically and vocally, players might be a
bit disappointed at the repetition of canned dialogue and musical
background, and especially the lack of spoken briefings; one would think the
Wii is capable of much more. Graphically, it's wonderful, though the art
style can become stretched on a widescreen TV; no widescreen mode is
Ultimately, TC is one of those games
probably destined to lie as a cult favorite. Some might find the depictions
of real bodies - in cartoonish CG as they are - a bit too realistic or gory.
I personally don't need to see another of their colon polyps for a while.
Some may be turned off by the difficulty,
since high rankings on missions are needed to unlock the second campaign,
one secret mission at a time.
But some will probably enjoy it. It's a
good game to give to medium-aged children, especially those interested in
anatomy and medicine, as long as they know that some of the tools (the
instant-healing antibacterial gel, for instance) aren't real. It's a good
game for players who like puzzle games and want a break from violent titles.
And it's a good title to hand to a nontraditional gamer, as long as they're
not the squeamish type.