Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as virtual scalpels, syringes, and other tools of the medical trade felt so right in Wii launch title Trauma Center: Second Opinion, and follow-up New Blood only sweetened the pot with the advent of co-op play. Now Trauma Team takes the series along a much broader path, splitting up the cutting and curing into different specialties, and infusing adventure elements into the experience with surgical precision -- all without losing what made the original entries so worthwhile and unique.
Trauma Team centers on six very distinct doctors from Resurgam First Care in Maryland, where the drama is thick and syrupy and the local shopping mall is apparently more hazardous than an infectious diseases ward (you'll see -- repeatedly). Each doctor's tale is overflowing with overwrought dialogue and sappy sentimentalism, recalling the kind of anime drama series the game takes its visual cues from, but at least these aren't your run-of-the-mill docs. Your general surgeon in Trauma Team is an amnesiac prisoner slicing down his sentence by saving patients, the forensic examiner mystically receives the last words of her corpses via cell phone, and the orthopedic surgeon doubles as a caped crusader when he's not repairing skeletal maladies.
Despite the sometimes-bizarro characters and story arcs, Trauma Team's medical missions and terminology are more strongly based in reality than previous entries. While this means the series' trademark "Healing Touch" power gets the heave-ho, keeping the medical content out of the fantasy zone makes for a more interesting overall experience. In fact, while stumped in one of the engrossing new Diagnosis missions -- in which you question patients and run tests to discover symptoms -- we compared one of the games CT scans to a real-life one via Google Image search and quickly found what we'd missed. We'd call that a surprising (and impressive) level of realism.
Meanwhile, on the actual operating table, Trauma Team splits up the surgeries into standard, orthopedic, and endoscopic procedures, offering a variety of new ways to use the Wii's motion controls to treat medical ailments, and the game doesn't need MotionPlus to make strong and convincing use of the Wii Remote.
You'll also take the role of a first responder, deftly treating multiple patients' burns and broken limbs following accidents, and can even live out your CSI fantasies in the medical forensics missions. We found these lengthy stages a bit obtuse at times, as piecing together disparate clues from crime scenes and witness testimonies can perplex and frustrate. However, gamers weaned on point-and-click adventure games may find these deliberate tasks a welcome change of pace from the fast-paced, life-or-death scenarios found elsewhere in the game.
Trauma Team isn't quite as focused or challenging as its predecessors, but even though the faces have changed and the scenarios have evolved, Atlus has proven that it still knows how to create a compelling and engagingly tense medical drama. So recruit a co-op buddy, sterilize your white plastic instruments, and get prepped for a fresh bout of virtual life-saving heroics on Wii.
Apr 27, 2010