Trauma Team review
Atlus’s “Trauma” franchise has long been a staple on the Wii, offering up high-drama operating room-based gameplay, intense surgical situations, and fun Wii-centric controls. Now, the publisher is readying to release the latest game in the hospital-based franchise with Trauma Team. Instead of putting you in control of one surgeon through a variety of frantic surgeries, Trauma Team instead shifts the narrative to a group of doctors, each of them with a different specialty that comes into play in the game’s story-driven campaign. The basic mechanics still fit the tried and true Trauma Center formula, but the game does feature some new elements to keep series regulars interested.
As with the other games in the franchise, Trauma Team features a melodramatic storyline, cheesy dialogue, and over-the-top surgery situations, but that just adds to the game’s charm. Each of the game’s six playable characters will interact with each other through their specific storylines, and the plots are interwoven enough that you’ll be able to get story elements by playing through one that you didn’t get in the other, which is a great touch.
Also as in previous games in the series, the controls are very nicely implemented. The game makes great use of the Wii’s capabilities, allowing you to move your Wii remote around to suture wounds, make incisions, and even operate defibrillators to bring your patients back from death. The game also utilizes the nunchuck to select which items of your surgical gear to use in the situation. While it is a little touchy and might have you selecting the wrong items at times, it’s still a solid mechanic that feels intuitive.
The surgery is as fast paced as ever, and can be quite challenging at the normal difficulty level. You’ll be performing operations with the Wii remote while your patient’s life gauge slowly depletes (it depletes faster if you make mistakes). Additionally, your previous work will be undone if you take too long, requiring you to be fast and steady of hand in order to perform your operations successfully. While you can inject your patient with medicine to regain a bit of health should they be in trouble, you’ll have to be quick and efficient in order to succeed in the operation as well as get a good ranking at the end, which in turn unlocks additional features.
One area where Trauma Team separates itself from its predecessors is the investigation element. Instead of simply moving from one surgery to the next, you can also use certain characters on the team to perform Phoenix Wright-styled investigations, a la House or other medical dramas on TV. This is a nice change of pace and is instituted pretty well in the game. The ability to go to any of the six main character’s storylines at any time, is good in case you get tired of surgery and want to try something a little different.
However, aside from a few key changes, this is mostly the same game that you’ve been experiencing since the first Trauma Center game. You’ll have the co-op mode from New Blood around should you want to get a friend in on the action, and by and large the changes made in this entry are fairly small.
Aesthetically, you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of difference between this and other Trauma games as well. The game utilizes the same anime look as its predecessors and includes the same barely-moving cut scenes as the other games. In surgery, the game uses a fairly rudimentary 3D graphical look, lacking in detail, but performing its job. The sound is also mostly the same as other games in the franchise. The voice acting is good at times, yet corny and over-the-top at others. The music feels largely out of place and doesn’t really capture the mood of the hospital or procedures in the operating room.
Trauma Team is a fine addition to the franchise, offering a changing narrative and some new gameplay features to help it stand out against its predecessors. However, the changes to surgery aren’t very major, and some of the elements can be tedious and repetitive.