Trauma Center has always been a fun series with tricky, skill-based operation gameplay that let's players play doctor. Atlus' latest title in the series, Trauma Team, for the Wii, takes that same formula from the other titles and aims to improve on it by having an entire team of doctors, rather than one doctor who does everything. This new system attempts to alleviate the duties of one doctor, and to make the whole experience a little more open, rather than one narrow path of surgery after surgery. The only question is whether or not breaking up the gameplay into all these fragments is a good idea.
This whole new Trauma Team splits the duties up between six separate doctors who all work together at the same hospital, leaving specific duties up to each doctor in their own field, rather than having a sort of super-surgeon who can do it all. This system divides into six different fields consisting of first response, diagnostics, forensics, surgery, endoscopy, and orthopaedics.
Each of these fields provides a different aspect of what a hospital team consists of, as well as cases each may deal with. The cases are set much more in reality than that of a lot of the earlier titles, which means diagnosing real symptoms and performing actual procedures. Granted, there are still some things that are a little ridiculous, like injecting a patient's brain stem with a magic feel-better medicine, but for the sake of keeping the game manageable, most of the ridiculousness is passable with a quick suspension of disbelief. Either way, the story does become slightly more believable and a little less ridiculous and over-the-top with the multiple surgeon approach to the game.
One major positive to the multiple character format is that players can jump between any of the six at any given time to change the pace of what type of level they want to do next, whether it be something fast paced and hectic, or something that may take a bit of time like forensics. This really lets players take in the game at their own pace, although it can disjoint the story in a few ways. For example, one doctor could be very far ahead in the story and have a patient that ties in with another doctor, so playing as one doctor the player may operate on a patient, then afterwards as another doctor diagnose the same patient which has already been treated. Though this isn't incredibly common, it can happen from time to time and throw the story's progression off quite a bit.
On that note, the story itself is well worth mentioning, since it does have an interesting blend of characters that each have their own unique back story which unfolds as each doctor is played through. Stories range from a master surgeon with amnesia looking for redemption, to a superhero doctor who means well, even though he can be pretty clumsy at times.
The story is also presented in a comic book style sequence of images, which is ok, but there isn't really any animation, which is kind of a detriment to the game. There is great voice acting to keep the story appealing though, since there isn't all too much going on in the visual department during cutscenes. The voice actors are very talented in portraying their character's emotion, and of course with a voice cast including the likes of Nolan North (Uncharted), it's not hard to see how well the voices are done. Though there are some hit and miss voices, most of them leave the presentation at an above average production value.
The game is also well fleshed out in the single player story, with multiple levels varying from 10 minutes to beyond an hour. Overall, the whole single player story probably lasts around twenty hours for most players. In addition to playing the basic missions in the story, they are also available to be played again for a better score. This works perfectly as there is an arcade element implemented into each level already.
Beyond the single player, there is also a co-op mode for two players that allows each player to split the duties when it comes to the surgery sections, either by splitting the tools and performing specific tasks each, or by having multiple patients to work on at one time. The co-op mode is available for all of the surgeries, but not for forensics or diagnosis, although it does make sense not to have those being multiplayer anyway. The multiplayer aspect does add a fun co-operative twist and lets two people work together through almost the entire game. The two player part is helpful for trickier tasks, but it can also get very frustrating since both players need to be on the ball when it comes to keeping patients alive with the syringe or taping up a wound.
Either with or without multiplayer, there is a lot of fun to be had with Trauma Team. The new multiple doctor approch breaks up the gameplay into new forms of surgery that are each unique in their own right, as well as having the investigative side added. The story is also presented well with solid voice acting and a decent visual appearance, though a little more animation and detailed surgery would be appreciated. For newcomers to the series, Trauma Team is a great starting point, and for long time fans of the series, there is enough of a change here without ruining the core game that grabbed them in the first place. For Wii owners looking for a fun change of pace from the current fare offered, look no further than Trauma Team.