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Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 Review

Genres: Simulation Stylus All
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Review Date: 29-4-2009
Review Platform: DS
Review Region: USA Available In USA
Est Playtime: 10+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Trauma Center 2 takes place three years after the events of the first game. Derek Stiles along with his faithful assistant Nurse Angie are now working in Africa at a Refugee camp. Still members of Caduceus they are researching new disease outbreaks while helping the inhabitants of a war torn country. Soon they are recalled as a disturbing new phase of the GUILT virus begins, one which will test Derek to his limits. Derek will learn what Dr Hoffman meant by the heavy hands of the Healing Touch.

trauma_center2_006Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 has taken everything from the first game and given it a shot in the arm so to speak. The graphics, music, storyline and even the instrument sound effects have been improved. The difficulty curve can now be called a curve and the game gives players the ability to shift between easy, normal and hard for any operation. I played on normal and only the last operation gave me trouble. So I switched to easy and immediately finished it. However as good as this sounds it felt like some of the original's charm had been lost without the do or die difficulty.

trauma_center2_009The gameplay is basically identical to the first game: the player uses surgical tools to perform a procedure with the stylus. It requires skill and dexterity. There's no new surgical instruments but the screen can be moved around to examine a wider area. GUILT is also back with new faces and a few remixes of the old. Kyriaki and Pempti are among them and thankfully my old nemesis Triti only makes a partial appearance. There are more normal operations such as extracting bullets and piecing back together shattered bones. The latter is quite cool and takes place a few times during the game. The Healing Touch functions the same as it did but is slightly harder to activate. The game is stricter at recognizing the star shape you need to draw to use it. I would prefer to just press a button to activate the Healing Touch because the gameplay is so time sensitive.

trauma_center2_003Trauma Center 2 provides clear instructions on performing the operations. The first chapter serves as a tutorial and there are arrows pointing to the sections the player needs to manipulate. Surgical tools are slowly revealed so anyone who hasn't played the first game can learn the ins and outs. Chains of successful actions replace the miss limit in the first game and go towards the score for the operation. Bonus points are awarded for completing operations within certain parameters but the game doesn't tell you what these are before the operation. Each successfully completed operation is ranked with S class being the best.

trauma_center2_020Trauma Centers 2's storyline is somewhat murky but still extremely idealistic. It involves the return of Delphi, their GUILT virus and the original cast of the first game. We get to see the people behind GUILT and the rise of a competitor to Caduceus. However they take things too far with the story enforced patient death where Nurse Angie is ridiculously idealistic and unreasonable. The relationship between Dr Stiles and Nurse Angie is taken further but in typical Japanese/anime story telling fashion nobody comes out and says what they feel. Another bone I have to pick is the abuse of the exclamation mark. It should only be used sparringly. Large sections of the story are separated into their own episodes which have to played and have no operation/gameplay. This means that combined with the ability to replay failed operations immediately you wont have to fast forward through reams of dialogue. Only the last operation has this problem because Atlus didn't separate the huge dialogue sequence into another episode.

trauma_center2_015The animation in Trauma Center 2 is edgier and slicker than the original game. The operation graphics, which are 3D, are more detailed and better looking. The character animations have been revamped with some characters appearing significantly different. Nurse Angie looks spaced out to me and she doesn't have many poses. The character's expressions are now much more subtle but less emotive. It's easy to miss their expressions changing at all. The game also has the same problem as the first: there's no scene specific character poses. Someone might be holding a gun or being held hostage but you won't see either on screen. That's one area Lifesigns has over Trauma Center.

trauma_center2_004The game's dialogue has some sound effects mixed in like gunfire and sirens and a small amount of voice acting. The voiced sections are things such as “I will save this patient” and “Let's do this”. Angie also gives precise instructions on what surgical instrument to use during an operation. The music is hugely improved and is some of the best music I've heard since Phoenix Wright or on any platform. It sounds better than it has any right to out of the DS speakers. Severing the Chains of Fate which plays during the final operation is epic, soaring and an instant favourite.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is an improvement over the original game. The gameplay is basically identical to the first but with a corrected difficulty curve. It's still about skill and dexterity; it just now requires less persistence. Perhaps this was to its detriment as it wasn't as memorable. The graphics are improved and the character animations while nice are too subtle. The story is good but its idealism is taken to the point where it was annoying and unbelievable. Trauma Center 2 is as good as its prequel, it just didn't do enough to reach new heights.