Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Trauma Center: New Blood (Wii) - Kate's Perspective

So you know how sometimes you get a game and you’re just impressed by everything about it? The graphics are sleek, the dialogue crisp and witty, the gameplay perfect, the storylines plausible. You fall instantly in love because everything is just so good.

This is not one of those games.

Now, let me explain: I did fall in love with New Blood. I think it improved on Second Opinion in many ways, the most obvious of which being the multiplayer functionality. There’s just some intangible joy to be found in barking orders at your friends—“Drain that hemorrhage! Give him the sutures, you incompetent pissbrain!” What can I say? There just aren’t enough games that offer such opportunity for playing with someone’s life.

But the real entertainment to be found in New Blood is arguably how bad it is. The dialogue, while not exactly wooden, tends to be remarkably insufficient for the situation at hand. The voice acting (for everyone but the two main characters) is overdone. (Just wait until you encounter the testicle-chinned game show host, Guy.) And the standards are ridiculously lax in the operating room. In Easy and Normal modes, you can actually draw loops with the sutures and still earn a COOL score. The storylines, taking place in Alaska, LA and Maryland, were clearly written by someone who had never visited any of those places, particularly Alaska: the very first thing you encounter in the OR is someone who’s been mauled by a bear. Other operations include grafting the skin of someone who caught fire when the hospital was burned down by an arsonist (and performing the operation in the burning hospital, as far as I can tell), performing two appendectomies for the price of one, and a showdown on television to see who can perform an embolectomy faster. Wow.

But these flaws make for some of the best multiplayer gaming to be found on the Wii. Sitting around with your teammates, it’s impossible not to have fun while laughing at the bear attack victim or the questionable dialogue. Were it smooth and polished, it might actually be more difficult to love. And the Trauma Center team has gone to great lengths to differ it from the last one: there are many more operations involving implants, such as pacemakers (this is actually a rather hefty part of the storyline) and so it doesn’t get repetitive.

On an unrelated but amusing note: if you really want to extend the multiplayer action, watch the opening sequence to Trauma Center, then watch the opening sequence to House MD, then take bets with your friends on how long it will take for the House folks to sue the crap out of the Trauma Center folks. Really.

Final grade: B+

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