Nov 20, 2007
Blood. Malpractice suits. Nearly a decade of book leanrnin'. Most of us don't have what it takes to brave Med school, much less dig sharp instruments into our fellow man. So when last year's Trauma Center hit the Wii, we finally learned for ourselves... how to save a life. Okay, it's just a game, but damned if slicing incisions, stitching wounds, and firing lasers at polyps didn't make for one of the most fun, and perfectly suited, experiences for Nintendo's new console.
Above: Meet Dr. Markus Vaughn. Isn't he dreamy?
This time around Trauma Center: New Blood is offering just that. Rather than a DS reworking, we've got brand new doctors bringing the drama with an all new storyline. Granted it's a game that doesn't really need a plot, but we were surprised to find a fairly engaging little yarn in the plight of these Alaskan MDs. And the voiceovers are some of the best we've seen on the Wii to date.
Everything else is largely unchanged. As far as gameplay goes, you'll still use the nunchuk's analog stick to select your tools of the trade while, using the Remote to snip, drain and tweeze until your hearts content. Also back is the super-concentration Healing Touch maneuver, activated with Z and B to help out desperate doctors pinched for precision.
The improved presentation is all well and good, and given our affection for Trauma Center, it could've received a passing grade by tossing us more of the same. But far and away, the best feature is New Blood's co-op mode. This has always been a game anyone can pick up and enjoy, and it's nothing short of revelatory to finally play simultaneously with another aspiring surgeon.
Above: Killing babies is discouraged
Co-op is played exactly like single player, but working with a partner greatly changes the dynamic of procedures. Poking someone with a scalpel in an area that's already being sliced can effect your patient's vitals, so vocal coordination mixed with specific collaboration aid immensely to the feel of being in a real operating room. "You spread the antibiotic gel, and I'll make the incision." or "Stitch up the lacerations, while I drain the puss and inject the anti-inflammatory." Or even simply; "I call tumors!" Our multiplayer sessions were laced with giddy interactions, both goofy and serious, equal parts House and Hfuhruhurr.
While you can't "Doc it out" online just yet, there are online leaderboards included here. And widescreeners will dig on the 16:9 screen support. It's not the breakthrough of medicine and motion controls it was last year, but Trauma Center: New Blood greatly improves on one of the Wii's best showcases. Plus the added co-op mode is intensely enjoyable and extends the replay value far beyond the original. Let's hope people can avert their eyes from Super Mario Galaxy long enough this Holiday season to notice.