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Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 Package Art

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2

Nintendo DS has been a breeding ground for all sorts of off the wall gaming concepts that simply would not work with traditional control methods. The original Trauma Center was one of the first and best examples of how to push the unique capabilities of DS to the limits. Now almost two years later everyoneís favorite handheld surgery simulator returns for a second opinion.


For a game about slicing people open, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is surprisingly lacking in the blood and guts department. Operations are presented in a slick and futuristic style that conveys the tenseness of surgery without the viscera. Appendages and organs are presented as colorful silhouettes. Aside from looking cool, this color coding serves as a useful indicator of the patientís health and condition. The area of operation will turn progressively darker as vital signs drop and deadly toxicosis kicks in.

The field of play is largely uncluttered with most of the information residing on the top screen, including the time limit and the current objective. The bottom screen is home to the actual operation and only includes your tools arranged in neat hexagonal patterns on the edge of the screen and the patientís vitals on top. The overall interface is very neat and intuitive, which is a big advantage during a hectic operation.


Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2ís music is reminiscent of what you would expect to hear in a medical drama, which is perfectly appropriate considering the subject matter. There arenít any catchy themes to hum for weeks afterwards, but the tense music during a surgery adds to the mood and the immediacy of the situation.

The sound effects are equally as effective. This is a game that should be played with the volume turned up. The constant beep of the heart rate monitor is a lifesaver in every sense of the word when youíre too immersed in figuring out which tool to use to look at the patientís health. The tools provide satisfying sound effects, and the slashing noise that accompanies a careless move becomes a harsh punishment after one too many failed operations.


The Trauma Center series has always boasted unique gameplay, and this installment is no different. The premise is pretty much unchanged from other entries in the series: meet exciting new people, cut them open and cure their ailments like only a master surgeon can.

Operating on a patient is a race against both time and the patientís vital signs. If the timer runs out or the patientís vitals drop to zero, the procedure is a failure. It is possible to boost a patientís vital signs with an injection, but it takes up valuable seconds that could be more useful elsewhere. Complicating that, certain patients have a disease that renders the healing injection useless until another separate antidote is administered. As more and more of these little situations pile up, the game turns into an exercise of strategic time management. Fortunately, the controls make multitasking and split-second decisions a breeze.

Every facet of the operation is controlled by the stylus. Simply tap the proper tool on the side of the screen and perform the necessary action. A large arsenal of toys and gadgets are at your disposal to aid in saving the patient. Draw a line to make an incision with the scalpel. Drag upward over the pump to siphon fluid from a troubled area. Each tool has a different way of using the stylus, but they are all equally responsive and intuitive.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 also features a panic button of sorts in the form of the Healing Touch. By drawing a star on the screen, the Healing Touch is activated, slowing time and increasing the patientís healing potential for a limited period. This technique is best used in situations where tasks start piling up, like a series of tumors that regenerate unless they are all removed at the same time. There are many other uses for the Healing Touch, but it can usually only be performed once per operation. Knowing how and when to use it is key to saving a patientís life.

The story is driven forward by dialog based cutscenes between operations. The plot is surprisingly engaging and a direct continuation of past events in the series. Donít worry if this is your first visit to the world of Trauma Center, as you will soon be brought up to speed on the exploits of Doctor Stiles and his fight against the GUILT supervirus.




Despite being a sequel, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is a unique concept that uses DS to its full potential. The difficulty curve is a bit steep and performing an operation can often be as stressful as it is fun, but the sheer excitement of racing against time to save a patientís life is extremely rewarding. For those craving pulse pounding medical action, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is as close as you can get to being a doctor without years of med school, and itís a heck of a lot cheaper than a malpractice suit.

final score 8.0/10

Staff Avatar Shawn Warren
Staff Profile | Email
"Why so serious?"

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