By Spencer . December 6, 2007 . 7:14pm
Unlike some gamers who got their hands on Trauma Center: New Blood, I didn’t find the game frustratingly difficult while playing alone. That’s probably because I beat some of the taxing “X” missions in Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Your skills carry over because you use the same tools and sometimes the same procedures. The tumor negating Powell Procedure makes many appearances and you have plenty of patients who have glass shards lodged in them.
It really feels like Atlus designed Trauma Center: New Blood with co-op play in mind. In one operation you need to remove a virulent appendix that periodically spews bursts of pus. If you have a friend on the couch with you, one person can focus on draining the green clouds while the other extracts the appendix. If you’re alone you have to juggle between both of these tasks. That means using the drain tool to quickly suck up the pus and rapidly switching to the scalpel to make the incision. Trauma Center: New Blood does not automatically adjust the difficulty when you’re the only surgeon in the room. It’s up to the player to switch to easy mode if things ever get too difficult and there’s no shame in doing that.
Trauma Center: New Blood drops some of the sci-fi elements in favor of more realistic operations. You’re going to fix a pacemaker, repair a rib cage, remove a bullet and prepare skin grafts for a burn victim before getting waist deep with the game’s unnatural threat. Eventually, you run into Stigma, the new microorganism threat. The first Stigma operation has Dr. Blaylock and Dr. Vaughn aim the laser at it before it makes a laceration. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like fighting Kyriaki in Trauma Center: Under the Knife. Don’t worry, later Stigma battles have new elements, but I don’t want to spoil how to beat those. Not knowing what to do next is part of the fun. You’re forced to improvise or wait for suggestions from the other characters.
Speaking of characters, you get a choice between two doctors. The main difference between Markus and Valerie is their healing touch. Markus’ supernatural gift allows him to slow time, just like Derek Stiles. For a few seconds of intense concentration Markus can quickly stitch up wounds and boost a patient’s vitals with the syringe. Valerie has a brand new healing touch; her ability stabilizes the patient’s vitals. For a few seconds you won’t have to worry about using the vial of green liquid and completely concentrate on the operation. However, you will not be able to increase the vitals of a patient during Val’s healing touch. Since you can’t use Valerie’s healing touch at the last second I found Markus more useful.
Neither character is interesting, so I didn’t have a personal preference. Early in the game Valerie is in Alaska trying to master the healing touch. Markus is obviously running away from something… hmm… could it be Stigma?
Atlus polished the presentation of Trauma Center: New Blood with voice acting, but it’s largely the same as Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Personally, I don’t mind reading so the lack of voices in Second Opinion never bothered me. I’m not crazy about the voice acting in Trauma Center: New Blood either. The quality of isn’t really up to par with other Atlus titles. The worse voice has to be the pseudo-Hollywood narrator, it just sounds too phony and it makes Trauma Center: New Blood’s story starts off like a B-movie. Good thing Trauma Center: New Blood doesn’t have to rely on its story.
The operations and natural-feel-on-the-Wii gameplay carry Trauma Center: New Blood. Even though you use the same tools, there are enough challenges to please fans of the series. The leaderboards are the ultimate test. After you hone your skills you can compare your score with the rest of the world. Prepare for disappointment the first time because Trauma Center: New Blood has an unusual scoring system. It isn’t just based on perfect stitches or quickly draining blood. You have to figure out hidden requirements on each stage to increase your score multiplier. Usually, these include getting a fixed number of “cool” ratings or clearing an operation before a certain time. However, the secret goals are hidden and players have to replay operations to discover them. Granted, placing a score on the leaderboards is for the hardcore crowd, but it would have been nice not to resort to a FAQ for the score boosting requirements.
Is Trauma Center: New Blood more of the same? Absolutely, but as a fan of the Trauma Center series I’m pretty content with that. I just hope Atlus goes back to the drawing board with a new plot and completely new operations for the next installment.