Wii

North America

Trauma Center: New Blood

by Jonathan Metts - December 20, 2007, 10:38 pm PST
Total comments: 8

8.5

New doctors, new operations, same great gameplay.

There’s a new Trauma Center game on the Wii, but in many ways, not much has changed. You’ll still perform dozens of surgeries, sometimes two or three in a single mission. You’ll still page through several minutes of storyboards before each operation. You’ll still face a mobile, mutating disease being deployed around the world by bioterrorists. You’ll still have to try some missions numerous times before finally passing them. All in all, New Blood is about as straightforward as a sequel can get. That’s not such a bad thing, since the last Trauma Center was a sleeper hit from Wii’s launch lineup, and more missions built around the same core gameplay is probably okay with many fans.

Luckily, New Blood does have some small changes that add up to make this game significantly improved over its predecessor. Cooperative two-player support is a huge one – the game looks almost exactly the same with two surgeons going at it, but the missions are much less difficult with a helper, and the strategies become more complex as you communicate verbally to delegate tasks in an efficient manner. The difficulty doesn’t go up when you add a second player, so co-op mode is a practical way to get past a mission that you just couldn’t pass on your own, too. It might even give you a realistic chance of playing through the game on the Hard setting. (As in Second Opinion, you may increase or decrease the difficulty before each mission, so you’re never stuck with one setting.)

The new storyline features two doctors: Markus Vaughn and Valerie Blaylock. Both are more mature and ultimately more interesting than Derek Stiles, and they always operate together, so you can choose your doctor du jour before each mission. They begin the game in Alaska but eventually move to Los Angeles and then Washington, D.C. to join Caduceus, the world-class research hospital. There are many supporting cast members, most of whom you’ll slice open at some point. The story is once again well written and captivating, and it is brought to life with mostly excellent voice acting, another new feature for the series. The quality of the acting is far above what we’ve come to expect in a video game, and these performances make it easy to sit through story sequences that often last several minutes. Some kind of character animation would be even better, but anyone with a taste for good storytelling will appreciate the storyline as a significant part of the game.

Once again, the story revolves around a man-made plague threatening to become an epidemic. Instead of GUILT, it’s Stigma, but it’s hard to tell the difference once you start playing. However, there is a major improvement in how New Blood distributes the Stigma missions. In the original Trauma Center, normal surgeries mainly occurred early in the game and seemed like mere training for the GUILT onslaught. Once Dr. Stiles encountered GUILT, that was all he did. New Blood is much better about giving you interesting operations throughout the game, even after Stigma becomes a serious threat. The variety is impressive: you’ll install a pacemaker, transplant a liver, treat burns with skin grafts, suture aneurysms in the brain, mend cracked ribs, remove bullets, and even perform a bit of veterinary medicine. New Blood knows that even in the face of a killer disease like Stigma, sometimes it’s refreshing to perform a simple appendectomy.

Online leaderboards are the only new feature that fails to make the game seem new. Each mission’s score must be uploaded separately. You can only see your ranking and the top ten; you cannot browse through the entire list, and the game doesn’t synchronize with your Wii system friends, so it’s just you versus everyone else. Unless you have realistic aspirations of competing for the top scores in the entire world, there’s no motivation to outperform other players. Leaderboards are only fun when you can compete against people you know, so they’re quite pointless in this game.

Nevertheless, New Blood is a wonderful game that combines a compelling story, challenging gameplay with fully adjustable difficulty, and plenty of variety and longevity. It’s perfect for fans of Second Opinion, while the cooperative mode and optional tutorials make it easier for new players to learn. The series will need some big changes if it is to continue, because this is a "diminishing returns" kind of sequel that seems to push the Trauma Center formula as far as it can go.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 9 9 9 8 8.5
Graphics
6

To say the vusuals are stylized would be a nice way to put it. Operation graphics are so cartoonish that it's often hard to identify the organ under the knife, while blood and pus occur only in gaseous form. The character portraits look great, but they're totally static, as are the story sequence backgrounds. This presentation was acceptable on Nintendo DS, but it badly needs an update to stand up to other Wii games.

Sound
9

This is how you do great voice acting in video games. The characters spring to life with intelligence and maturity as the actors do their best to downplay the melodramatic writing. The music is less impressive but still solid, with several dramatic new tunes blended with familiar songs from the last game.

Control
9

Straightforward pointer control is elegant and works extremely well. Using the joystick to select tools is still touchy, but that's just because there are so many tools mapped onto it. Like most other things in Trauma Center, it takes practice to master. The Healing Touch star-drawing activation is still janky, unfortunately, but at least experienced players won't need it as often.

Gameplay
9

Though largely the same, New Blood's gameplay is improved over Second Opinion simply by how much diversity exists throughout the game. It's always exciting to see what the game will throw at you next, and their reduced frequency makes the Stigma operations more exciting and intimidating.

Lastability
8

This one is longer than its predecessor, and it helps that no one has already played through it on the DS. Cooperative play is a big incentive to go through the whole game again, and there are lots of bonus missions even if you can't find a partner. The leaderboards are disappointing, though.

Final
8.5

New Blood is very much a direct sequel with incremental improvements over Second Opinion. However, a conservative sequel to a great game is still a great game in its own right. Who can resist the chance to play doctor on the same system that lets you play sports star and guitar god? Like other great Wii games, Trauma Center: New Blood finds ways to make an inherently compelling simulation easy and fun to play.

Summary

Pros
  • Caters to new players and hardcore experts
  • Far more variety in operation types
  • Tremendous voice acting propels story
Cons
  • Online leaderboards feel tacked on
  • Worst box art ever?
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Quote

Originally posted by: NewsBot
Once again, the story revolves around a man-made plague threatening to become an epidemic. Instead of GUILT, it’s Stigma, but it’s hard to tell the difference once you start playing. However, there is a major improvement in how New Blood distributes the Stigma missions. In the original Trauma Center, normal surgeries mainly occurred early in the game and seemed like mere training for the GUILT onslaught. Once Dr. Stiles encountered GUILT, that was all he did. New Blood is much better about giving you interesting operations throughout the game, even after Stigma becomes a serious threat. The variety is impressive: you’ll install a pacemaker, transplant a liver, treat burns with skin grafts, suture aneurysms in the brain, mend cracked ribs, remove bullets, and even perform a bit of veterinary medicine. New Blood knows that even in the face of a killer disease like Stigma, sometimes it’s refreshing to perform a simple appendectomy.


This is so true. I watched my brother and his girlfriend play through a solid chunk of the game in co-op (does that make me their nurse?) and it was really entertaining how the story in this flowed much better than the story in the first Trauma Center. It's really great. The voice acting is top-notch, you get to do more interesting and varied and less out-of-this-world operations (and hence, feel more like a real doctor), and even the HUGE dialogues and story chapters and incessant talking and utter emo-ness of the first Trauma Center were nowhere to be found...

Great review! Great game!

KhushrenadaDecember 21, 2007

Quote

Once again, the story revolves around a man-made plague threatening to become an epidemic. Instead of GUILT, it’s Stigma, but it’s hard to tell the difference once you start playing. However, there is a major improvement in how New Blood distributes the Stigma missions. In the original Trauma Center, normal surgeries mainly occurred early in the game and seemed like mere training for the GUILT onslaught. Once Dr. Stiles encountered GUILT, that was all he did. New Blood is much better about giving you interesting operations throughout the game, even after Stigma becomes a serious threat. The variety is impressive: you’ll install a pacemaker, transplant a liver, treat burns with skin grafts, suture aneurysms in the brain, mend cracked ribs, remove bullets, and even perform a bit of veterinary medicine. New Blood knows that even in the face of a killer disease like Stigma, sometimes it’s refreshing to perform a simple appendectomy.


That's good to know. That was one thing that always disappointed me with the original trauma center. The surgeries become so repetative at the end and there wasn't as much variety as at the start of the game.

Quote

Worst box art ever?


Napoleon, like anyone can even know that.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusDecember 21, 2007

Napoleon? You referring to an odd GBA game released in Japan around 2000-2001 staring the name sake who goes and battles time? bandits? in order to return to France?

KhushrenadaDecember 22, 2007

Wow. That is quite the Nintendo knowledge but no. It was just a line from Napoleon Dynamite when Uncle Rico is showing his hime movies of throwing footballs. Napolean says: This is pretty much the worst video ever made. And then his brother Kip responds: Napoleon, like anyone can even know that. That's the joke. When I saw the "worst box art ever?" line, that's what popped into my head.

It's Kairon's fault. He made a big deal about me only posting in the funhouse so I decided I better go and post in some other forums. Well, I hope you're happy now Kairon. Look at the mess that has been created.

"The series will need some big changes if it is to continue, because this is a "diminishing returns" kind of sequel that seems to push the Trauma Center formula as far as it can go."

Oh dear, how right I was way back in December 2007.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

"The series will need some big changes if it is to continue, because this is a "diminishing returns" kind of sequel that seems to push the Trauma Center formula as far as it can go."

Oh dear, how right I was way back in December 2007.

The game is still great, but you're also right. I'm almost completely uninterested in the DS sequel.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJune 20, 2008

Well if the DS sequel is going to be equivalently good to the original I'll eventually pick it up when it's on clearance somewhere. But no doubt, if it doesn't even reach the level of this title it has got to be disappointing.

NinGurl69 *hugglesJune 20, 2008

So this game is basically Castlevania.

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Caduceus New Blood Box Art

Genre Simulation
Developer Atlus
Players1 - 2
OnlineYes
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Trauma Center: New Blood
Release Nov 20, 2007
PublisherAtlus
RatingTeen
jpn: Caduceus New Blood
Release Jan 07, 2008
PublisherAtlus
Rating12+
eu: Trauma Center: New Blood
Release Nov 07, 2008
PublisherNintendo
Rating12+
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