Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is the easiest version of Trauma Center to date and that isn’t necessarily a pejorative statement. A number of people found the frantic scribbling in Trauma Center: Under the Knife, the first game in the series, taxing. If you were scared off the Trauma Center series after seeing videos where players use multiple styli to excise a fictitious microbe, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is the game to start with. The sequel requires less rapid reactions and it sums up the events in the first game nicely with spoilers. However, if you’re one of the few that stuck through Trauma Center: Under the Knife to the end or beat Trauma Center: New Blood without co-op play you’re going to breeze through Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 in Normal mode. The challenge for veteran touch screen surgeons lies in hard mode.
I was familiar with most of the operations in Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2, which made the game exceedingly easy for me. No, this knowledge wasn’t from advance play. I just beat all of the other Trauma Center games. If you skipped Second Opinion and New Blood, the two Trauma Center games for the Wii, you will find operations like bone rebuilding puzzles, removing bullets from the heart, and skin grafting “new”. They are new to the DS, but the steps are exactly the same on the Wii. There is only one new “tool” to master unless you count the defibrillator. The tool was originally introduced on the Wii where you players move the nunchuck and remote towards the TV as if they were placing paddles on a patient. On the DS you slide the paddles forward and lift the stylus of the screen when the meter is in the green. I’m going to refrain from mentioning the other “tool” because it’s a story based surprise and you only use it once.
The same tools are used to fight the same bioterrorism threat known as GUILT. The disease you thought you eliminated in the first game is back and it’s better than ever! Not really. Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 has less science fiction GUILT operations and more tumor extractions. Scan with the ultrasound by tapping the touch screen. Make an incision where the black objects lie with a smoothly drawn line. Remove the cytoplasm with the drain by dragging the fluid upwards. Trace the green dots around the tumor with the scalpel. Drag it on to a tray with the forceps. Drag a membrane to cover the hole. Wipe some antibiotic gel over the tumor to affix it. Rinse and repeat.
When you do meet GUILT a lot of the strains are evolved strains with similar extraction procedures. If you don’t know what Kyriaki is don’t worry. Angie Thompson, your faithful nurse, will walk you through the operation with voice prompts. “Use the scalpel.” “The sutures are ready.” “Use the ultrasound.” Commands like these make the operations a breeze until near the end of the game where no one knows how to beat brand new strains of GUILT. The other “operation” likely to throw players off isn’t really an operation. Reminiscent of the bomb operation from the first game Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 manages to sneak in a similar trial where you have to use surgical tools in a desperate situation.
Derek Stiles finds himself in trouble, but at the beginning of the game he is basking in fame. The story begins in Africa where Derek and Angie are volunteering to save patients in the Republic of Costigar. At a refugee camp they meet Adel Tulba, a young surgeon who you never get to play. Adel dreams of being a top surgeon like Derek and lucky for him he gets recruited to join Caduceus USA. Back in America post GUILT symptoms plague some of the patients you thought you saved in the first game. The real problem is GUILT is still on the rise. Some is conducting GUILT research, again.
Again. Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is Trauma Center, again. Since all I wanted was a set of new operations to master on the DS I was satisfied, but worried about the direction of the series. If every Trauma Center game is just a yearly pack of new operations Atlus is going to burn this intellectual property fast.
During the concise Persona 4 interview I got to voice my concerns by sneaking in a few questions about the future of the Trauma Center series.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 was a little bit of a surprise since you went back to the DS. Are you guys thinking of doing a “Second Opinion” for Under the Knife 2, [making] a Wii equivalent of it?
Yu Namba, Senior Project Manager at Atlus: Like a back port? I know there is an audience both on the Wii side and the DS side, but I don’t think we can keep bringing ports back and forth like some other company does.
Aram Jabbari, Assistant Manager of Sales and Marketing: People were very understanding to [Trauma Center:] Second Opinion because it was such an amazing proof of concept that it worked on the Wii, it’s just as fun on the Wii. A lot of people who had the DS version bought the Wii version. But as Yu says going back and forth is not what the majority of the fans want.
Do you think Trauma Center is going to be a yearly thing now?
Dale North, Destructoid: Trauma Center 2008? [laughs]
I love them, but it’s getting to a point where we’re doing the same operations over and over again. I feel like for the next one you guys need to do something really different or unique. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on that.
YN: We generally totally agree with that. As a company we cannot do the same things over and over again. At the same time it is really difficult to add new things into the game.
NM: There are only so many operations in the world. There are only so many surgical tools in the world. We can add some things, but to radically alter the base gameplay of something that exists in the real world is really difficult.
AJ: What I would say is, don’t look at Under the Knife 2 as a sign that the series is stagnant and we’re not interested in taking it into different places in the future. Think of it as it had been a long time since Trauma Center has been on the DS. Through two releases a lot of people on the forums were saying we really want it back on the DS. In a lot of ways it was a fan game. We addressed the difficulty. So, look at it that way, but I don’t think it should be seen as an indication of what’s to come.
Nich Margos, Veteran Editor at Atlus: Something I suggest every single time, but nobody ever likes the idea is there is this one amazing chapter of Blackjack where he’s stranded in the Outback and he’s got this terrible disease and he has to operate on himself.
YN: I did hear of a real life experience of someone trying to do that and they became unconscious in the middle even with local anesthetic. So, who knows? Maybe there are people like that who try treating themselves.
Images courtesy of Atlus.