Games: For a change of pace, I thought I'd give a little preview love to the upcoming Trauma Team from Atlus. As anyone who reads this blog surely knows, I loves me some in-house Atlus, and after having spent the last few days with the title, it's proved to be no exception.
While players may be familiar with the Trauma formula of doing crazy surgeries against ever-increasing odds and biological agents that are closer to being aliens than tumors, Trauma Team takes a huge step away from the established pattern and shakes things up from top to bottom. While I enjoyed Trauma Center and its sequels, this new approach is a complete home run.
For those that don't know, Trauma Team now features six different specialties instead of only surgery. Surgery is still here, but in addition there are paths for EMT, Diagnostics, Forensics, Endoscopy and Orthopedics. I initially had my doubts about how different the game would be, but those doubts have been laid to rest. I haven't completed the game at this point, but I have touched on three of the six fields.
Surgery is the same action that series fans know and love. Surgeon ‘CR-S01’ is a nameless prisoner who’s been sentenced to 250 years for a crime he may not have committed, and each life he saves shaves time off of what he's got to serve.
Players have access to the standard range of surgical implements, and will be proceeding through this path in the same way that they have in previous games. No surprises here, but the solid action still delivers.
Maria Torres is Team’s sexpot character, a hothead EMT whose gameplay centers around juggling multiple victims at the scene of accidents. She shares some tools with the surgery path, but spends more time on stabilizing patients and doing first-response care... Things like opening airways, establishing IVs, applying splints and emergency blood transfusions.
I think it's fair to say that her actions are a little shallower than what's available in the surgery path, but it's more than made up for by the need to jump back and forth between multiple patients.
Gabriel Cunningham is the diagnostician, and of the three modes I've played so far, his is the most absolutely different and completely new, not at all similar to anything that's been seen in the Trauma games before. Instead of getting his hands dirty, Gabe spends his time interviewing patients and trying to pick out clues to their conditions from the things that they say.
Once he's got a general idea of what's going on, the player checks vital signs and examines blood test results. If further information is needed, patients can be sent to X-ray, CT or other various high-tech tests. After getting these results, players have to look very carefully at the images in order to see small differences and variations that may be dangerous. More like a puzzle game than the fast-paced OR action players generally expect, it presented welcome mental challenges while giving my reflexes a break.
At this point, I still have three more specialties to spend time with, but I'm absolutely loving everything I've seen so far. Each mode has been different from the last, yet well-developed and well-defined enough to feel like they each present their own unique flavor.
In terms of production, Trauma Team is aces. The music is superb swank-jazz similar to the top-notch tracks in the stellar Persona series, and the graphics are a brilliant 2D/3D hybrid that blends Anime style with comic-book panel presentation. The writing is sharp, the voice work is excellent, and there's plenty of story to flesh out the segments between operations. The developers are still resisting adding any sort of RPG-lite or choice elements, but I'm not going to criticize at this point... they've done so much to freshen up the formula and so much of it is dead-on correct that I'm going to be quiet, smile big, and keep playing.
More info to come, but it's pretty clear that fans of Trauma are going to be in heaven with this installment, and newcomers are going to find one of the most stylish, distinctive games available on the Wii. It's fresh, it's different, and it's beautiful.
For more information, check out the official website HERE and keep your eyes peeled for the game when it hits retail on May 18.
(P.S.- I may be a bit of an Atlus shill, but that doesn't mean this game isn’t awesome.)