Trauma Team has operations, but you won’t need speedy hands to battle space-age bacteria in this game. Operations in Trauma Team are grounded in reality… ever so slightly grounded in reality.
Instead of one or two doctors, Trauma Team has six in an ensemble story. We’ll start with the one Trauma Center players will be most familiar with in terms of gameplay, CR-S01 this game’s surgeon. He’s cold to the bone, literally. CR-S01 lives in a freezer cell with a mask over his face, punishment for being involved with a bioterrorism attack. His sentence is for 250 years, but he gets a brief break to perform an operation. See, CR-S01 is a genius surgeon. He doesn’t have the Healing Touch like Dr. Derek Stiles, but CR-S01 has all of his tools. In CR-S01’s episodes players drain and excise tumors, splash healing gel over wounds, pull glass out with forceps, and stitch patients up. Sound familiar? There are a few changes that make Trauma Team’s surgery episodes more user friendly than Trauma Center. Less objects fly around, icons tell you which tool to use, and the time limit is gone. If you solo-ed through Trauma Center: New Blood these episodes should be a breeze.
Before CR-S01 treats patients, hot tempered Maria Torres keeps them alive. Remember the missions where Derek Stiles rushed to the scene and has to quickly stabilize five patients before time ran out in Trauma Center? Maria’s first response episodes are sort of like that. She has to juggle several patients and stabilize each one for transport. In these episodes your best friend is the syringe and its magical green medicine that boosts vitals. If a patient’s vitals flat line you can fail the mission. Maria usually has a miss count so you don’t have to save everyone. But, you have to save most patients using a different set of tools. Maria has tourniquets to stop bleeding, gauze, splints, and old fashioned tape. Most of the motions are similar to Trauma Team’s surgery missions, but Maria has a couple of unique actions like CPR where you smack the remote in time with Maria’s hand pounds. The big difference between surgery and first response is the number of patients you have to treat at once.
Endoscopy is nothing like the modes described above. Dr. Tomoe Tachibana peeks inside her patients’ organs with an endoscope. You crawl through lungs and intestines by moving the remote towards and away from your TV. Be careful! You have to be delicate. Hit a wall and your patients vitals drop. While diving through the digestive system, Dr. Tachibana drains blood pools, cauterizes internal bleeding, and injects medicine in ulcers. The tools are easy to handle. Aim with the nunchuck, select the right tool, and press Z to use it. The toughest part of the endoscopy episodes is moving through the windy human body. Oh, did we mention Dr. Tachibana is a ninja who dreams of impressing her father? Resurgam doesn’t hire doctors without an intriguing back story.
Hank Freebird, often called The Big Guy, handles orthopedics. Like Dr. Tachibana’s missions, players need to be delicate and precise. The game automatically gives Dr. Freebird tools such as a scalpel and laser, which you have to carefully guide along a line. Move off track and you might slice a nerve bundle in the spine or cut a bone wrong. Close call? You can stop cutting and realign at any time, but that also resets the chain meter. Trauma Team keeps a chain combo going as long as Hank is in motion. If you want to get a high score, you have to trace without making a mistake.
I talked a lot about surgery, but time-wise that’s only about half of the game. Each adventure-like episode with master diagnostician Dr. Gabriel Cunningham and forensics examiner Dr. Naomi Kimishima take around half an hour. These modes differ from the Trauma formula since they test players observation and wit. Oh, and spot the difference, pixel hunting skills. In both adventure sequences you have to hunt for clues by pointing and clicking on static backgrounds in forensics and medical images in diagnostics. While Atlus could have made diagnostics and forensics into separate games, both playable parts fit nicely into Trauma Team. Being story driven, these episodes are framework for the plot and are an optional break from operations.
You can switch between doctors whenever you want. Each character is intriguing enough on their own. I mean, Trauma Team has doctors with prison records and superhero backgrounds. Each individual story track are a piece of the overall plot. Trauma Team tells the narrative as an animated comic book, drawn in striking color. The first thing I noticed about Trauma Team is how bright the game is compared to grayed or browned out worlds. Trauma Team’s art director even gave each character their own eye color, except for Hank who… doesn’t open his eyes. Trauma Team still uses static drawings, but having the characters move around just a little bit makes the game feel more lively.
Once you’re done with the story there are achievement-like medals to collect. Unfortunately, the game is missing online leaderboards, which were introduced in Trauma Center: New Blood. The co-op mode works a bit better than past games since players share tools. That forces players to rely on one another, but now one person usually has to wait to do something since Trauma Team isn’t as frantic as the other Trauma series games.
Don’t worry, Trauma Team is still exciting! This game has its share of nerve racking moments without making players feel overwhelmed by flying microbes. Trying to keep your hands steady when excising a giant tumor and racing to save five patients lives at once are enough to raise a player’s heartbeat. The variety and better balance make Trauma Team the best and most accessible game in the series to date. It’s like a marathon of E.R., House, and Bones you can play.