Atlus is handing over the scalpel again with another installment in their medical treatment simulator series, but this time there’s more to it than just surgery. Trauma Team is the fifth game in the Trauma Center series, but it takes big leaps beyond its predecessors by offering up several different kinds of gameplay to complement the traditional surgery mechanics. Anyone familiar with the previous Trauma Center titles might be surprised by the variety of new gameplay modes in Trauma Team, but not by its presentation or the basics of the game. Trauma Team is a lengthy title that makes good use of the Wii’s controller options, though it does tend to drag on a bit during story cutscenes and in some of the slower gameplay modes.
Trauma Team features six playable doctors, all with their own unique style of gameplay. These styles are surgery, emergency care, orthopedics, endoscopy, forensics, and diagnosis. For the most part, each style of gameplay is different, though there is some overlap between surgery and emergency care in particular. Diagnosis and forensics are furthest from the traditional Trauma Center formula, as they deal with patients and crime scenes outside of the emergency room. Fans of the previous Trauma Center games may be a bit disappointed that the surgery aspect of the title isn’t as difficult or evolved as it could be, but the sheer variety of gameplay modes on tap should be more than enough to offset this feeling. I did not find all of the modes equally engaging, but they all have their moments. Playing as the amnesia-stricken genius surgeon who is also an alleged mass murderer was my personal favorite.
Many games do not make full use of the Wii controller, but Trauma Team definitely does—you will be making incisions, drilling, twisting, setting bones, and shoving cameras down throats like a pro, and it all feels great. Thanks to the magical stat-boosting injection available for most surgery segments, you probably won’t be losing many patients, but there can be some moments of frustration despite that. For the most part you will be trying your best to be speedy but accurate, in hopes of garnering a good score at the end of the operation.
Story-wise, Trauma Team isn’t too commendable. While each playable character has a distinct personality and (occasionally goofy) storyline, the barely animated cut scenes themselves are often on the boring side. You can opt to skip any of these scenes, but that will usually result in going into surgery without knowing the whole story, and that isn’t terribly satisfying either. Voice acting is fairly well done, on par with what you might find in your typical dubbed anime series. Normally I wouldn’t care too much about the story, but in this case sometimes it actually seemed to get in the way of my enjoyment of the game, simply because I had to sit through a good five or so minutes of minimally animated melodrama if I wanted to know why I was about to begin operating on a patient.
Trauma Team’s graphics are about on par with what you would expect from a game in this franchise. The cutscenes are drawn anime-style, but the actual gameplay segments of the game are of course modeled in 3D. For the most part, different parts of the human anatomy are presented in a simplified, not-terribly-realistic manner, and I am glad for this—if I had to operate on a photorealistic depiction of human intestines, I don’t think I would be able to stomach it. There are some parts of this game that do look quite nice though, especially the endoscopy segments.
If you are a fan of previous Trauma Center games, Trauma Team is definitely going to make you one happy doctor. It is a game that shines when the scalpel is in your hand. Outside of the operating room, things aren’t quite as enjoyable. Diagnosing patients can be interesting, but it often drags on too long, just like the story scenes. Thankfully, there is a lot of stuff to do in this game thanks to its holistic approach, so even if there are certain segments you don’t particularly like, there’s bound to be plenty of stuff that does tickle your femur, er, fancy, and that is the game’s true strength.
Pros: Gameplay variety, operating room segments, controls
Cons: Frequent barely animated cutscenes, tedious diagnosis segments
Plays like: Other Trauma Center games