When was the last time a videogame made you want to better yourself, gaming wise? Not for a long while, we imagine. To that end then, we implore you; buy Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Seriously. It's not just because it's the kind of unique game that Wii was made for, but also because it'll have you practically yearning to become a better gamer. Albeit between bouts of shouting, swearing and other verbal abuse, that is.
If such anger-inducing gameplay sounds familiar, that's because it is - Second Opinion borrows heavily from Trauma Center: Under The Knife on DS by featuring many of the same hospital-based storylines, characters and even most of the same operations. To label Second Opinion a bog-standard port, however, would be a mistake because it's far more than that. True, there are similarities but the complete make-over and addition of several new side-story stages make this a totally new experience, even if you've already played the DS game to death (excuse the pun).
What's Up Doc?
Mainly, it's the new means of interaction that takes the most getting used to, more so if you're familiar with the DS version. It's not that it's difficult to adjust, more the sudden feeling of separation. Unlike with the DS stylus, the Wii Remote distances you from feeling like you're actually 'doing'
the operation and this could throw a few people off. While this is perhaps the only real negative, it does also offer its advantages. For instance, using the Nunchuk to switch between instruments is quicker and easier and the Remote's pointer is incredibly accurate, making tasks like suturing, lasering and making incisions rewarding when you get it right.
Not that you will to begin with, of course, because if there's one thing Trauma Center: Second Opinion is, it's challenging, even on the very lowest difficulty setting. Between trying not to slice your patient up into to pieces, keeping their vital statistics up so as not to kill them, watching the time limit and dealing with whatever twists each new operation may throw at you, it's a nerve-wracking process. And believe us when we say that giant pieces of glass wedged in aortas and rapidly-multiplying tumours have nothing on operating on a plane (complete with turbulence), repairing shattered bones and dealing with the ever-evolving GUILT virus.
Making The Cut
And yet despite its toughness, Second Opinion never seems unfair or cruel. Did the patient die? Perhaps a bit more care with that scalpel wouldn't go amiss. Run out of time? You should be faster with that needle. The game gives you plenty of chances to succeed, from the opportunity to jump straight back into surgery if you fail, to the 'Healing Touch' that, once mastered, slows down time mid-operation to give you a fighting chance. As we said, this is a game that promotes self-improvement and, as a result, feels all the more rewarding when you do get it right.
As a game that demonstrates how the Wii's capabilities can really be put to good use, Second Opinion does an outstanding job. However, the fact that it's a great, if demanding, game in its own right needs to be applauded too, because it's bold enough to both try something new and not pander to those with no patience. It takes a strong will to see Second Opinion through to the end... but you'll feel all the better for it when you do.