This isn’t a huge problem on the easiest difficulty, but when you crank it up to medium or hard playing through the story alone becomes a daunting task. The challenge missions can only be played on hard mode, and they practically require two people to finish. I have no doubt that hardcore players can manage it (and they will probably relish the insane challenge), but the difficulty is still rather lopsided. In a way it reminded me of Guitar Hero—that transition to those harder modes is a killer. Atlus should have balanced it out, so both modes would’ve been challenging but fair.
New Blood is still very enjoyable on the easier settings even for new players, and difficulty aside, everything else is a big improvement over Second Opinion. Atlus followed the advice of critics and recorded full voice acting for the entire game, which needless to say makes the story a lot more immersive. While Derek Stiles’ emphatic “Let’s begin the operation!” was kind of cool in the first two games, the acting and dialogue for New Blood lets you take the characters a little more seriously. New Blood has a good deal of original music, and continues the Trauma Center tradition of pulse-pounding pieces that make operations all the more hectic. A few of the pieces had remixed tunes from the older games, and I appreciated the nostalgia.
Of particular note is the opening cinema. The developers must be House M.D. fans, because New Blood’s opening is uncanny in how it mimics the TV show’s opening credits.
The rest of the graphics are mostly unchanged, which is probably for the better. The organs and patients are still pretty abstract, so squeamish players don’t need to worry about a lot of blood or realistic viscera. The art style is also the same, with the familiar clean, bright anime look from Second Opinion. Cutscenes are presented with static backgrounds and flat character portraits, and while this works, it’s starting to feel a little stale. Some more graphical flair, at least for the cutscenes, would be a welcome improvement.
Even with its jarring difficulty curve and somewhat primitive visuals, New Blood is still one of the best sequels I’ve played. It does so much right that its flaws can be easily excused after a few hours of play. The operations are more fun and the new co-op mode is a blast, making New Blood one of the Wii’s stranger party games. The story is also well thought out, with just enough camp and drama to make it charming. New Blood also sprinkles in a few nostalgic references to the past games. Derek Stiles and Nurse Angie make a nice cameo, and there’s a truly epic challenge operation after the end of the game that’s sure to please long time fans of the series. At this stage, it’s easier to point out ways to improve the Trauma Center franchise, because New Blood isn’t terribly flawed or broken in any way.
First off, I’d like to see Atlus grow the game world a bit. Put things into 3D, so we can finally have fully rendered and animated characters and cutscenes. Also, add some dynamism to the characters—make them more than just talking heads, let the player control them in a virtual world. Let the player roam the hospital and make rounds, checking up on patients and helping with spontaneous emergencies (this would make it feel more like House too). The story wouldn’t feel as static as a result, and it would give the player a better feeling of being a doctor.
I’d also like the chance to drive an ambulance around a small city as an EMT. In previous games, the doctors usually found out what had happened to the patient after he or she had arrived at the hospital—there were very few operations that happened on-site in an emergency. I think it’d be cool to play as the guy who arrives first at the scene, operate to stabilize a patient for transport, and then do the more involved work as the surgeons back at the operating room.
In any case, Trauma Center New Blood is one of the better Wii games of 2007. It’s a solid new installment in the series and as the first true sequel, it does a great job. I recommend it to fans of the series, or newcomers who are curious about the strange and unique franchise on the Wii. With a lengthy story and a fleshed out co-op mode, this game will keep players in the OR for a while.
Atlus one-ups themselves with the first real sequel in the Trauma Center series. New Blood features an all new co-op mode and a fresh story to go with it, featuring two new doctors. This co-op comes at a price, though; Atlus made every operation challenging for two players, and didn’t bother scaling it back for solo gamers. If you can stomach the difficulty, New Blood is an excellent Wii game.
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