Trauma Team is the fifth game in the Trauma Center series. This was my first foray into the medical puzzle/simulation genre. Because of the fun I had saving lives instead of the usual killing I do in video games, it won’t be my last.
The game follows six doctors, each with a distinct specialty. Told in a graphic novel style coupled with excellent voice work, we follow each doctor’s personal tale separately. After completing each episode in his/her story arc, the entire plot is tied together nicely in a final series of episodes and culminating in a climactic battle with a deadly, virulent virus that threatens to wipe out every man, woman, and child in the United States. Though it’s not something that would wind up on an episode of House, the characters and dialogue are funny and compelling enough to make you want to see it through to the end. There are moments when Trauma Team doesn’t quite break the fourth wall, just subtly pokes at it to hilarious effect. I don’t remember laughing so much during any other game. But like any good story, the humor is counterbalanced by touching, almost heart wrenching moments found in the best medical dramas.
Trauma Team is basically six games in one, exploring different occupations in the medical field. It is divided into general surgery, first response, orthopedic surgery, endoscopic surgery, diagnosis, and medical examination. Each occupation stimulates different styles of puzzle solving, so throughout the game I felt, to quote Homer Simpson…“S-M-R-T! Smart!”
General Surgeon: The player must save the patient by using the right tools to treat cuts, hemorrhages, extract tumors, and remove foreign objects from the abdominal cavity, keeping in mind to keep the patient’s vitals above 0. Using the right tools with speed and dealing with unexpected changes are the keys to success. The fairly moderate pace and quick thinking required to complete each surgery made it one of my favorites. This section is presided over by the mysterious CR-S01, a prisoner in the custody of the FBI. He is serving a 250 year sentence for committing an atrocity he can’t recall. A dour individual, he hopes to atone for the sin by saving as many lives as possible.
Emergency Medical Technician: As a first responder, this section is similar to general surgery. It’s just at a much faster pace. The goal is to stabilize the patient at the scene by performing treatment on the spot such as performing heart resuscitation, setting fractures in splints, mend gaping wounds, among others. The player must treat each injury while keeping the vitals up AND dealing with multiple patients. As patients are transported to the hospital (or die) sometimes more patients are brought to the scene. Prioritizing and multitasking will get you through this section. The EMT in this part of the story is the fiery tempered Maria Torres, who tends to voice the same frustrations as you would in the later levels. Like her, I found myself saying stuff like “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and “What a pain in the ass!” EMT is the most stressful and potentially most frustrating of the professions represented in the game.
Orthopedic Surgeon: This part deals with repairing bones and treating the spinal cord. Unlike general surgery and first response, orthopedic surgery moves at a much slower pace with the focus being purely on precision. Failure occurs with too many misses. I had the easiest time with orthopedic surgery because there are no time pressures and all you need is a steady hand on the Wii Remote. The resident orthopedic surgeon of the game is the kind hearted Hank Freebird, who is also a costumed superhero named Captain Eagle. It works, trust me.
Endoscopy Surgeon: Endoscopy involves shoving a long tube with a camera into the patient’s innards. This part involves exploring around the cave like environments of the stomach, intestine, and the labyrinthine lungs. The player has to treat infections like hemorrhaging, ulcers, blood pools and tumors while taking care not to bump into walls. It’s like general surgery, but in 3D. It’s easy to get lost inside the guts but thankfully the game marks “gates” you’ve passed through before and blocks off areas you’ve already completed. Still I wasn’t overly fond of endoscopy, maybe because I sucked at it. The demure, proper Tomoe Tachibana is the endoscopy surgeon in the game, who also happens to be a ninja…accompanied by a loyal retainer/butler. This game is very Japanese.
Diagnostician: Quick thinking isn’t as important as critical thinking as a diagnostician. The player meets patients to perform exams, consult with the patient, and look at charts, EKG’s, X-Rays, MRI’s, CT Scans, like a not-so-routine doctor’s visit. You need an eye and ear for detail to detect subtle, almost unnoticeable abnormalities to diagnose the correct ailment. The doctor in charge of this one is the sarcastic, wise cracking Gabriel Cunningham and his diagnostic computer RONI. The funniest dialogue is found in this section.
Medical Examiner: I like detective shows and I used to really be into CSI, so I would count the medical examiner portion as my favorite. Here you perform autopsies, examine the personal effects of the victim, and investigate crime scenes. You then sort through the clues to come up with solid evidence to solve the case. Multiple-choice quizzes and even some riddle solving test your logic and deductive reasoning skills. A whole game could be made from this portion of the game. The icy super-sleuth Naomi Kimishima is the star of these episodes, who earned the nickname “Corpse Whisperer” for her ability to hear each victim’s last words through a special cell phone. A little creepy.
After completing the game, you get the option of a higher difficulty level and some extra hilarious dialogue from each character. There are also “Doctor Medals” which work like Xbox Achievements, which can be unlocked when certain conditions in each episode are met. This combined with trying to improve your score and rank for each episode adds a lot of replay value to Trauma Team. Be sure to watch until after the end credits for a nice surprise that will make you feel appreciated. To be honest I found no glaring faults in Trauma Team. The story is engaging, the characters are memorable, the six professions offer a lot of variety, there’s a good amount of replay value, and most importantly: it’s fun to play. What more could anyone ask for?
- Explores 6 jobs in the medical field
- Controls, story, music, voice acting
- Changes in pace are nice to have
- Replay value
- Nothing, really
Final Verdict: Enshrine It
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.