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Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 (DS) artwork

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 (DS) review


"As long as there are people, there will be an endless line of medical patients in need of surgery. That's good news for Trauma Center hero, Derek Stiles, as this means plenty of new hospital adventures to be had. Even better, his latest batch of patients in Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 make for some of the most exciting surgical operations to date. "



As long as there are people, there will be an endless line of medical patients in need of surgery. That's good news for Trauma Center hero, Derek Stiles, as this means plenty of new hospital adventures to be had. Even better, his latest batch of patients in Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 make for some of the most exciting surgical operations to date.

Fresh off his operating room duel with the GUILT virus, our master surgeon, Derek, begins Under the Knife 2 in an African region caught up in a civil war. Aided by his lovely assistant, Angie, he's devoted himself to helping as many people as possible in the chaos. The effort ends abruptly, though, when the duo is called back to the US where a new illness known as "PGS" is developing in the same patients who suffered from the GUILT virus in the previous game. From there, the story launches into a series of triumphs, tragedies, and betrayals; and shockingly, it's good. This is due in large part to the intentionally over-dramatic cut-scenes that are rife with humor and keep the adventure light-hearted. There's a surprising amount of narrative for a game about surgery, of all things, but it ties together your O.R. sessions nicely and the well-written dialogue will keep you interested throughout.



This is exactly how to stitch up a person in real life.


As fun as medical drama is, however, Under the Knife 2 is still focused squarely on the gameplay. A brief primer for those unacquainted with the series: Trauma Center is about performing brutally difficult surgical procedures. You'll make incisions in your patient, pull out shards of glass, and excise tumors just like a real doctor. Unlike a real doctor, though, you'll be able to operate through simple touch screen gestures like drawing a zigzagged line to stitch up a cut or tapping the screen to burn off parasites with a laser. It might seem simple, but you'll be forced to work at a lightning pace and with pinpoint precision, keeping the game a constant challenge. Make too many careless mistakes, and you'll lose both your patient and your medical license, leaving you at the game over screen. Upholding the Hippocratic Oath is no cakewalk, so expect to see this screen many, many times before the end.

Unfortunately, Under the Knife 2 is largely the same as its predecessor, offering no new toys to try out and missions that feel overly similar. The only truly new objectives are those dealing with the PGS virus, which must be eradicated in a more creative manner much like GUILT did. Thankfully, the lack of innovation doesn't stop this outing from impressing, as the medical conundrums here have more than enough variety and complications to keep you from getting bored. Dr. Stiles' latest also patches up the series' one nagging flaw: the asinine level of difficulty. Past games have been tough -- the kind of tough that makes you smash your system, throw a controller through your TV, and attack your beloved household pets. Luckily, Under the Knife 2 isn't quite so ruthless, instead offering a challenge level that ramps up gradually and an easy mode for newbies. Make no mistake, though - while the difficulty is more manageable and far less frustrating, tasting victory is still tougher than getting a perfect score on the MCAT. Of course, masochists looking for the thrill of hopeless surgical operations can head straight for the hard mode, which will test even the most qualified of digital doctors.



See this? Get used to it.


Three years might have passed since the original game's release, but you’d be hard pressed to find any changes in Trauma Center's presentation. The 3D graphics accompanying surgery are as simplistic as ever, but effective enough to convey which organs you're working with. While you might be dicing up people's internals - not exactly the most pleasant of sights - the visuals are cartoony enough that even the most squeamish of players won't be bothered. Story sequences consist of flat, 2D backgrounds with no animation to speak of, but the scenery is fairly detailed and the beautiful character portraits spice up the proceedings. The audio is similarly minimalist, consisting mostly of a few brief voice clips and suitable sound effects for your surgical tools, but you really don't need much else. There is a catchy soundtrack, however, and while there aren't an abundance of songs, what little there is enhances the experience and ekes out that last drop of tension during operations.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 doesn't reinvent the surgery genre (can we consider this a genre yet?), but it still delivers the thrills you've come to expect from the series and finally fixes the relentless difficulty. The lack of new mechanics does give the game that expansion pack feel, but the sheer polish inherent in the operations makes for an entry that stands out nonetheless. Longtime series fans will no doubt eat this latest effort up, but for newcomers, too, there's never been a better time to go under the knife.

Rating: 8/10

Chacranajxy's avatar
Community review by Chacranajxy (July 04, 2008)

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