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Review: Trauma Team

Justin McElroy

My problem with the Trauma Center games is that they're kind of a one-trick pony. It's a pretty good trick, and not one that other games have emulated, so they've gotten away with it. But I never really thought that pure surgery was enough to carry a whole game; in fact, I often find myself bored long before the end.

Trauma Team tackles, nay, demolishes the problem by basically being made up of six smaller, and in some ways, very different games. "You want variety? How's this for variety?!" it seems to snarl, moments before smashing a variety cream pie into your face with faux aggression.

So, yeah, I guess what I'm saying is there's a lot of variety.

Gallery: Trauma Team | 38 Photos

The six doctors of Trauma Team, representing surgery, forensics, endoscopy, orthopedics, emergency medicine and diagnostics, each have their own miniature campaign of a few hours, all of which build into one final climactic series of cases.

The general surgeon, mysterious convict CR-SO1, is pretty much what you've come to expect from the series. You'll use the Wiimote as a syringe, scalpel and all manner of other surgical tools as you attempt to remove a tumor or treat an injury from your patient without losing them to the beyond. If you've enjoyed the series in the past, CR-SO1 is a known quantity that you're almost certainly going to like.

In the other five modes, you'll not only get to meet a different character and see how their stories interweave with one another, but you'll also be tested in different ways than Trauma Center has before. While having a steady hand is most important when hammering pins into bones as orthopedist Hank Freebird, playing as paramedic Maria Torres tests your time management skills as you try to keep multiple crashing patients alive. You may like some segments more than others (I was personally irritated by constantly having to move my Wiimote forward as Tomoe Tachibana snaked her endoscope through patients), but you're not going to get bored.

That goes double if you bring along a friend for co-op. It doesn't alter the experience much to have two players alternating control or sharing tools, but still, it's a nice touch.

Those four docs certainly help to spice things up, but the expanded scope of Trauma Team is most effective and evident in the two "hands-off" departments.

You may like some segments more than others, but you're not going to get bored.

First is surly diagnostician Gregory House Gabriel Cunningham, who tries to discover what's ailing patients by visually examining them, questioning them about symptoms, combing through X-rays and other image data and finally comparing his collected symptoms with diseases on record. It can get a little paint-by-numbers, but it's a relaxing counterpoint to the pressure of the surgery-centric modes.

The real star for me is returning character Naomi Kimishima, who's abandoned surgery for forensics -- scouring corpses, crime scenes and witness testimony for clues that she can stack together to net some posthumous justice. Forensics is some sort of weird hybrid between point-and-click adventure and a logic puzzle, and I humbly request it be turned into a full game right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

While not as ... pronounced as in past Trauma Center titles, the cutscenes and in-game dialogue still retain just enough of the series' trademark over-the-top soapy quality to be endearing. If that's not your bag, Trauma Team makes it plenty easy for you to skip the dialogue and head straight into the doctoring.

If you read reviews to help you with buying decisions, this is an easy one: Buy this game. There's a ton of content, and you're almost scientifically certain to like some of it. It's rare that I'm able to make this strong of a recommendation, but honestly, six games on one disc? How am I supposed to argue with that?

This review is based on the Wii review code of Trauma Team provided by Atlus.

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