Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition Review

Laughter is the best medicine.

Playing Surgeon Simulator Anniversary Edition is akin to participating in a joke where you are the punch line. It's a game that is deliberately designed to feel unwieldy as you perform operations that require dexterity and finesse. Neither are to be found here; instead, you move your hand around the operating table and manipulate individual fingers to grab instruments and pray you don't accidentally drop them in the patient's exposed chest cavity. This is as much a "simulator" as Mario Kart is a driving test.

Surgeon Simulator has been available on PC and tablets for over a year now, and each version has seen gradual content additions since its first release. On the PlayStation 4, the Anniversary Edition packages everything into a single download. The full range of surgeries is ready and waiting--heart transplants, kidney transplants, brain surgery, eye surgery, and teeth pulling. Each of these operations can be performed in different environments: an operating theatre, on a wheelie bed while running down a corridor, in the back of a bumpy ambulance, and in zero gravity. Just like the surgical instruments, bones and organs conform to a rudimentary physics system, and the different environments function as difficulty modifiers.

It boggles the mind to understand how one could possibly perform these operations in zero-G given how fiendishly difficult their terrestrial versions are themselves. This is all part of the joke: you're expected to fail spectacularly and kill your patient multiple times. What ensues is a unique approach to interactive slapstick comedy that sees you attempting to open a ribcage but instead accidentally dropping a live buzz saw among the patient's exposed internal organs.

In motion control mode, you rotate the arm and tilt the wrist by waving the gamepad in a similar fashion.

The thing is, this joke is far funnier on PC than it is on PS4 because of the way the gamepad controls the surgeon's hand. With a mouse and keyboard, you have a far greater degree of accuracy and finesse available to you that, with practice, feels like it can be used constructively. Each individual finger of the surgeon's hand can be opened or closed with a separate key on the keyboard. Positioning the hand with the mouse allows for more precise, minute movements, which are necessary to complete the surgeries.

On the PS4, the gamepad tells a different story. In motion control mode, you rotate the arm and tilt the wrist by waving the gamepad in a similar fashion. The interesting thing is that this actually feels more intuitive than the same motions on the mouse do. With the mouse, it feels like you are controlling a piece of machinery, making individual adjustments to the wrist's angle, the elevation of the hand, and the rotation of the arm, whilst stopping in between each step. That is where the PC's accuracy comes from. With the gamepad, you are making all of these motions at once. It feels far more fluid, but it's also impossible to achieve the same level of accuracy as in the PC version.

Compounding this is the analogue nature in which the gamepad's triggers are used. You do not have fine control over the surgeon's fingers; instead, the harder you press the right trigger, the more fingers that close in a gripping motion. It's just plain frustrating attempting to be accurate this way. The elevation of the arm is also controlled in a similarly analogue fashion with the left trigger, and it too suffers from imprecision. An alternative control method which involves using the right thumbstick to replace the motion control components is less intuitive than the motion control itself, and still suffers from a lack of accuracy due to the analogue nature of the stick.

But here's the thing: lack of accuracy in the controls is the whole point of Surgeon Simulator. That is the joke. However, when it comes to the difference between fun and frustrating, it's a matter of degrees. Playing Surgeon Simulator on PS4 is like listening to someone stumble through the telling of what could have been a hilarious wisecrack. The addition of achievements, some cheeky unlockable secrets, and a slight graphical upgrade over its original PC release doesn't make it funnier.

The Good
A unique kind of interactive slapstick comedy
Tonally consistent and self-aware
The Bad
PS4 gamepad is too inaccurate, which spoils the entire joke
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Surgeon Simulator 2013

About the Author

To give you an idea of the difference in control schemes, Daniel Hindes completed the opening heart transplant on PC on his first go, but it took him over two hours on the PS4. For playtime, multiply that by how long you find that funny.

Discussion

29 comments
canuckbiker
canuckbiker

I feel like not using the a ps move option for this is completely wasted potential.

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

yawn, another Steam port…

nevertheless, it can't even be played using the PS4 camera?! 

Aspire85
Aspire85

Totally agree with this review. Given this game a number of chances and came away disappointed and slightly annoyed every time. 

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Hmm, bash the controller for being imprecise, however this game requires motion controls, no wonder it's a fail.  Motion controls always suck, stick to the dual sticks!

BranKetra
BranKetra moderator moderator

A four out of ten means I may be passing this title by.

Tiwill44
Tiwill44

"It's impossible to achieve the same level of accuracy as in the PC version."

Yup, this is what I would say about any FPS on consoles. It's also the score I would give to any FPS where you're forced to play with a regular console controller.

john_matrix_007
john_matrix_007

I played this game on PC, and found it fun for about 10 minutes. Thank God for bundles.

cmwnek
cmwnek

I'm having a lot of fun with it. I'm really enjoying the humor, and I think it's a great game for trophy hunting.


I have half of the A++ grades needed for the "Best Surgeon in the World" trophy, and I've only been playing for a few days. I am, at best, slightly below average in terms of general gaming skills, so I would say that the controls work well enough. (I much prefer using Right Stick vs. Sixaxis controls btw)


It's a solid 7 for me.

DLazarek
DLazarek

It really needs a patch to make it at least somewhat playable on PS4.  This was a disappointing port.

Lhomity
Lhomity

I would have been much happier with a Move controller for this, so long as they could get the motion controls right. Oh well...

NTM23
NTM23

Yeah, played a bit of it on the PS4, and all I thought was "this is stupid", and not in the "Oh man, this is hilariously stupid!" kind of way. 

sakaixx
sakaixx

I recommend you guys to check it out, It's a funny game to play with your friends.

Gamer3344
Gamer3344

Please review Simulator Simulator

Mantan911
Mantan911

After I've read the review, I see no reason why the score could be so low. I expected something like 6 or 7.

CaveManCobb
CaveManCobb

Why are they reviewing simulator games?

DefconRave
DefconRave

Meh, if not for Youtube, this game would have sunk into oblivion like it deserves. Same for Goat Simulator and Slenderman.

Fia1
Fia1

finally that's the score the original game and all the others should have since the start, anyone who gives this more than a 4 probably took surgery by the doctor from these games...

biggest_loser
biggest_loser

That score is the what the PC version should have received. Biggest scam. Sure its playable but only if you're willing to put up with the most uncomfortable, aching control scheme. 

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@BranKetra  It's metacritic score was a 57.  Gamespot was the only one to give it an outright negative score, all the other gaming sites that reviewed it (that are posted on metacritic at the time I am writing this post), gave it a mediocre score.  And there are more reviews at 60 and above than below 60.

Just something to take into account.

And if Gamespot's score was not taken into account (and just the other reviews are) then the metascore is a 62.  A far cry from Gamespot's 40

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

I find mouse and keyboard for fps' is easy mode. It's seriously like cheating most if the time, and gives me a headache with the unrealistically fast aiming movement. Using a controller feels much more accurate to how a person would move, and aim, but to each their own.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@Tiwill44  My fingers cramp up when trying to use a little keyboard for repetitive motions while only using a few keys.  However, I have big man-hands, which could be the difference.  A controller works better for my big hands.

ggregd
ggregd

@CaveManCobb Dude, Street Cleaning Simulator is the greatest game of all time.

Tr2et
Tr2et

@DefconRave Man, it does what it is made to do, right? And it does that well, fun, mindless and with suitable graphics too. So it deserve a 5 or 6. Shame with the games that can not do what they are made to do like Sacred 3,....

DefconRave
DefconRave

@Tr2et @DefconRave Its fun for a short while at best, should be released at a really low price or free, but its on Steam now for $9.99 plus $2.99 for the anniversary addon dlc. They are over charging and riding on a fad.

DefconRave
DefconRave

@Tr2et @DefconRave Can't stand Deep Silver, 1 of the most insidious publishers out there. They need to go ,along with EA and maybe Ubisoft. Unfortunately after THQs bankruptcy they picked alot of great ips, more's the pity.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@DefconRave @Tr2et umm....now that you mention it, deep silver is kind of a faceless corporation. They have indeed picked up a lot of ip's, and seem to distribute a lot of european and japanese titles... this is a slight concern...I can only hope that they're capable, and that Just Dance ip provides them with enough money to invest back into actual games.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 More Info

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  • First Released
    • Android
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    • + 4 more
    • Macintosh
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    • PlayStation 4
    • Unix/Linux
    Surgeon Simulator 2013 is a darkly humorous over-the-top operation sim game where you become Nigel Burke and perform life-saving surgical maneuvers on passive patients.
    5.9
    Average User RatingOut of 164 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Surgeon Simulator 2013
    Developed by:
    Bossa Studios Ltd, Bossa Studios
    Published by:
    Bossa Studios Ltd, Bossa Studios, Mastertronic
    Genres:
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence