Over the weekend I finally got my hands on Trauma Center: Under the Knife, the surgical game for the DS, and after only 90-minutes’ play it’s shaping up to be something special.
The whole premise of the game is that you must operate on various patients and successfully bring them through the often incident laden procedure. To do so the whole bottom screen of the DS is given over to a close-up of the patient’s problematic area with icons down each side allowing you quick access to numerous pieces of medical equipment.
Initially you are led step-by-step through the procedure with a friendly nurse telling you to stitch neatly and not to rush, but as time progresses you are left to fend for yourself forcing you to constantly remember to lay down medical gel before making any incisions or to drain fluids before applying stitches.
All of the moves are intuitive and help with the sense of interaction with your patient: you can cut open your patient by sliding your stylus across their chest; remove shards of glass by dragging away from the body; stitch wounds together by moving in zig-zags and, if all else fails, inject them with a stabliser via a drawn out up-and-down motion.
Whilst it is just fun pretending to be a highly paid surgeon developers Atlus have added a pressure mechanic which sees you playing most of the game against the clock. Well, not just the clock but against your patient’s vitals which can plummet to worrying levels if you keep poking the wrong area. In particularly messy situations you can find yourself trying to remove tumours, fight haemorrhaging and attempting to stabilise your patient through injections all at the same time – it teaches multitasking at the very least.
I’m finding the game another enjoyably unique title, mainly because each operation becomes a mixture of tension and logical puzzle solving. With every patient the procedure is explained, you then have the easy job of following it through with speed, accuracy and a calm head. The trouble is that is easier said than done.
Now… Let’s operate!