The second streaming web demo I attended last week was for the follow-up to the Trauma Center franchise for the Wii, Trauma Team. In the full disclosure department, I have never played either the DS or Wii Trauma Center games, but in the last couple months, following the Trauma Team updates from Atlus, I have to say I was quite interested. The latest in the franchise expands the scope of the game from previous entries, which tended to focus on one surgical specailty. Trauma Team has six doctors, each with a different specialty, so this is looking to be the most versatile title in the series.
Aram Jabbari, Atlus’ PR and sales manager, walked us through an entire diagnosis which occurs early on in the game. The first thing I noticed – and that there was quite a bit of positive talk about – was the cut scenes. They’re done in a comic book style, which were created by the development staff in Japan and they are very pleasing to the eye. It feels a lot like listening to an interactive manga, and I love it. As we delved into the diagnosis, we were quick to realize this patient was quite a jerk – a grumpy old man that threatened to sue for sexual harrassment if we touched him. He wouldn’t let us so much as use a stethoscope to start with. Mr. Jabbari showed us how to register some symptoms and abnormalities early on, using the few basic things we knew about the patient. By discovering those – and registering them with our computer assistant, RONI – we were able to get the patient to submit to more tests, thus working through the entire diagnosis.
During the course of dealing with this patient, we saw the very detailed forensics and diagnosis process, which seemed to me to mirror real-life medical situations and terminology. It is very aparent that the development team did their research for situations that could be faced by any medical team in real-life. The one we went through seemed to be more of a cerebral excercise, using your brain to figure out what was wrong with this guy. We compared healthy vs. the patient’s samples after he let us run tests on him, looking for irregularities the whole time. Using those irregularities can help you determine some symptoms and, ultimately, the cause.
Patients aren’t limited to one doctor’s diagnosis, either. It is possible throughout the course of the story that one patient could see several different doctors to help arrive at a conclusion. If you misdiagnose, you can’t really kill a patient, you’ll just have to start over. Unfortunately, there isn’t open-ended game play, allowing you the choice of several patients to see in any order, which kind of limits you to completing a single diagnosis before you can move on. That being said, much like a linear RPG, it is difficult to tell a focused, cohesive story if you don’t confine things in some manner, so I don’t see this as much of an issue. There was quite a bit of discussion about if there are any House-like cases, which there appear to be, at least partially. There’s also the “chance” for some supernatural stuff happening, like in some of the previous titles.
Now, aside from the game mechanics, some of the technical questions that came up were about Wii Motion Plus compatibility, length of game play and challenge. There are various difficulty levels, and the challenge depends on those in general. But, within each difficulty, naturally there are more challenging diagnosis as you go through the game. Also, various types of surgical procedures are more difficult than others. Some are precision-based while others rely more on your deductive reasoning skills. So, the challenge is most definitely present. While some aspects of Trauma Team are precision-based, Wii Motion Plus is not supported due to the fact that most of the game play sees you using the Wii-mote like a laser pointer. As for length of the game? Approximately 20 hours, with 40 operations/missions. Mr. Jabbari also hinted at more reasons to play or re-play the game after you finish the first time, but he couldn’t talk about exactly what those were, so your guess is as good as mine.
Needless to say, I quite enjoyed this demonstration. While 3D Dot Game Heroes is more my type of game, I’m definitely willing to give Trauma Team a shot. This is thanks to Atlus, to be honest. They’ve done an excellent job of keeping the press and the general community updated and seem to go that extra mile to not just have events that we have to travel to, but have found a way to come to us with these streaming demos. So, kudos to them, and I definitely look forward to trying out Trauma Team when it releases on May 18. In the meantime, check out some of the images they sent us from the game for attending the session.