Right before the holidays I got to sit in on a web demo of Trauma Team, hosted by Aram Jabbari of Atlus USA. I’ve been a fan of Atlus’s Trauma Center series ever since the first one came out on DS, so I was pretty excited to see what they’re doing to grow the franchise. After watching Aram work through a couple of operations, I can safely say that Trauma Center fans are in for a fresh new take on the series that’s bigger and deeper than any of the previous games.
As its title implies, Trauma Team is a new direction for the now classic medical sim series that takes it out of the emergency ward and now touches on six separate branches of medicine. You’ll see the whole spectrum of treatment: diagnostics, endoscopy, orthopedics, first response, forensics and of course the last-ditch trauma surgery that made the games famous. While all of the action happens at the same hospital each branch has its own specialist. While the characters, art style and storytelling are just as melodramatically anime as ever, the actual medicine is much more realistic than the work Dr. Stiles and nurse Angie were doing.
The game takes place after the already futuristic Second Opinion and New Blood but the sensational story elements have been toned down a lot. There isn’t a huge pandemic like GUILT or STIGMA to battle; you’ll be doing real medicine on real ailments, and you won’t have the Healing Touch to bail you out this time.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the game is even harder than the notoriously challenging Trauma Center games. In some fields the emphasis is on delicate, meticulous work where you aren’t always down to the wire—in fact, several operations have no time limit at all.
This was immediately apparent in the endoscopic surgery that Aram demonstrated. The gameplay is viewed through a fiber optic camera as you explore the digestive tract of a patient. You can move forward and back through the viscera of the unfortunate guy you’re working on, but your field of view is limited to what your camera light illuminates. You’ll often have to stop and explore an area for problems like cysts, ulcers and blood pools.
Once you’ve located some hemorrhaging you can use familiar tools like the suction to drain the area, but others, like the hemostatic forceps, are new to Trauma Team and let you stop internal bleeding through cauterization. Regardless of what tool you’re using, depth is important in endoscopy; if you’re too far away or too close to a wound you won’t have the room to work on it. While previous games in the series were pretty flat and static at times, Trauma Team looks and feels genuinely 3D.
The emphasis on realism that Atlus is going for really became apparent when Aram demoed an orthopedic operation. The patient had a seriously nasty compound fracture that needed to be set and secured. I’ve encountered something like this in a few of the past games—arrange the bone fragments like a jigsaw puzzle, slather on some magical antibiotic gel and close. After piecing an arm, femur and ribcage back together this procedure was almost routine for me, but Trauma Team changes all that.
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