Trauma Team First Impressions

Saving lives is our first priority in Atlus' upcoming medical action puzzle game where we explore six different disciplines.

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Medical marvels are witnessed all the time, but for most of us who don't spend much time in a hospital, Trauma Team will have to do. The latest addition to the medical action puzzler series by Atlus, Trauma Team features six areas of medicine to practice, letting you take on the role of a surgeon, diagnostician, emergency medical technician, orthopedic surgeon, endoscope technician, and forensics examiner. We haven't had a chance to play for ourselves yet, but we're pretty excited by what we've seen so far of the various modes.

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The game is split into six medical disciplines--each tied to a specific character--and you can choose to take on missions in a specific field or jump around the menus to change things up. The storylines will have some crossover, so you'll get a better idea of what's going on in the grand scheme of things by playing through the storylines of the different characters. We got a chance to see Naomi Weaver, a forensics examiner who was originally a surgeon in Trauma Center: Second Opinion. Her new discipline allows her to piece together evidence through several minigames. One of the examples we saw was assembling a fragmented skull. We used the Wii Remote to put the pieces back into place like a puzzle. There are no time limits with some of the modes, so you can carefully figure out what you need to do next.

If you want to feel the pressure of having to beat the clock, you'll definitely find it when you play as Maria, the EMT, who is always the first to the scene and must stabilize the victims of various disasters. Your Wii Remote skills will be put to the test as you try to juggle patients, sometimes up to five. This mode will feel very much like the previous Trauma Center games, where you have access to your tools and must swab, soak, patch, and pour antibiotic gel as quickly as possible. If your patient manages to flatline, you can swing the remote in sync with the hands onscreen to do chest compressions. Most of the time you'll use the pointer to move things around, and having a steady hand can really help.

A slightly less hectic role is that of an orthopedic surgeon. It didn't look easy, but at least we weren't on a timer. In our example we were piecing together shattered bones and even carving out synthetic bone to replace the missing fragments in our suicide patient's limb. The in-game tutorial walks you through the motions, but from our quick demo it looked like a mix of using the remote to drill and piece together bones, turning screws, and tracing along dotted lines with the pointer. There's vibration feedback to let you know how you're doing, and your performance is rated at the end of each procedure.

Stylized visuals gives the game a fresh new look.
Stylized visuals gives the game a fresh new look.

If the thought of poking around someone's innards as an endoscopic surgeon or slicing someone open makes you squirm, you can play the role of the diagnostician, whose job is to find out what is wrong with the patients by physically examining them and taking notes. Through the process of elimination and some logic, your goal is to find out the diagnosis of the patient. By examining the patient, you must point out abnormalities and find symptoms that could lead you to the correct diagnosis. This is a more laid-back approach to medicine and feels more like an adventure game. But even though you're not on a timer, you have a heart meter that indicates how many mistakes you can make before it is game over.

What stands out about Trauma Team is the new stylized look, in which the action unfolds like a graphic novel. To bring this medical drama to life, light animations are included, and it's fully voice-acted. We were told that the missions in forensics and diagnostics can take anywhere from six to eight hours to complete, so there's a lot for you to do if you're looking for an adventure-based approach to a medical sim. Some of the modes can be played cooperatively, and Atlus took into consideration that it can be too easy if you have two players working on one patient at the same time, so it looks like the gameplay will be turn-based if you play with a friend.

We'll have more to share once we get a preview build so that we can get some hands-on time with the game. Be sure to check back on our site for more details then. Trauma Team is currently set to be released April 20.

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