Trauma Center: New Blood Review

From the first time my friend Mark made me play a surgical simulator on the DS called Trauma Center, I’ve been enamored with the franchise. Second Opinion was the first game I purchased for the Wii, and when New Blood’s release sneaked up on me, I knew it was time for me to dust off my coat, grab my stethoscope, and save some more lives.

If you played Second Opinion, you’ll feel right at home, for the most part. The game is largely the same in terms of how you go about your surgical business. For those not familiar with Atlus’s series, the game forces you to conduct surgery ranging from minor, intern-level stuff to things you’d see on a Sweeps Week episode of E.R.

Despite the fact the gameplay is largely familiar, New Blood still manages to improve upon Second Opinion in most ways. For starters, this is the first Trauma Center game with any real semblance of a plot, and full voice acting. Part of the story involves getting rid of all sci-fi materials such as Guilt, so if you thought those things were just needlessly tacked in to meet publishing criteria, worry no more.

There are two major changes in New Blood: the increased difficulty and co-op play. First off, I won’t lie: New Blood is ridiculous hard and often frustrating enough that you’ll want to strangle your pet. You know what, though? It’s good that it is. How often have people been complaining that there are no difficult games on the Wii? New Blood provides a good mix of old-school difficulty with next-gen gameplay, and executes it well. Veterans of the series will find it much more difficult as well, and if you start out on hard (“Hey, I’ve played it before, I should play hard!”) you’ll swear like Joe Pesci.

The other big addition is the co-op play. Now, you can have full-out two player surgeries. You don’t have one player control the nunchuck and one control the remote; you both perform the surgery together. This eases the difficulty at times and obviously makes the game easier, since you can assign one person to just keeping the vitals up. It’s a blast conducting surgery with a friend in a setting that won’t result in your arrest.

Of course, there are other things brought to New Blood to make it an improved game as well, such as the support of 16:9 TVs and 480p. Online rankings also give a reason to perfect your scores in surgery, but if you’re like me just showing up your friends face-to-face is enough. One thing that brings in a bit more planning and thought to the game is the decision between the two doctors, who offer differing Healing Touch abilities; one can slow down time, while the other prevents injury.

Even with the overall enhanced game, a few remaining issues do pop out quite often. Owners of Second Opinion who hated drawing a star to activate your healing power will find it even harder in New Blood. It’s easier if you take your time, but come on! Who can take their sweet time in a life or death situation!?

The other issue is (once again) just the poor explanations given in many situations in the game. More than once I had a friend playing the game ask me how to do something, because the game just didn’t explain it clear enough. Having played the other Trauma Center games I didn’t run into this problem; whether or not that’s my familiarity with how the game works, or my friends being idiots, I’m not sure.

While I love the increased difficulty, I can understand how many gamers will be put off by it — especially the Wii’s core audience. New Blood is definitely not a game the majority of Wii owners will find a lot of value or fun in, because it’s geared towards a much more dedicated gaming crowd due to the ramped up difficulty and no-hand-holding attitude. For those who consider themselves “real gamers” who have been bemoaning the lack of real games and difficulty on the Wii, New Blood is the answer to your prayers. Just don’t play it near anything breakable that’s worth too much money.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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