Trauma Center: Second Opinion ArtWhen I reviewed the first iteration of Trauma Center on the Nintendo DS, I said that it was the first game that truly felt like it couldn't have been done on any other platform. Now that there's a revision of it on the Wii, I guess I'm going to have to eat those words. Although Second Opinion is essentially the same game as the DS's Under the Knife, not only is it just as good, it's the definitive version.

Stepping into the role of Dr. Derek Stiles for the majority of play, Trauma Center: Second Opinion asks players to perform a variety of surgeries such as cutting open a person's chest to remove tumors, carefully reconstructing shattered bone fragments in a broken arm, and eventually, battling malignancies which are more like alien creatures than biological maladies.

The Wiimote functions as a substitute for a range of medical implements while the nunchuk attachment changes the selection depending on the situation. With a quick flick of the thumb, the on-screen cursor can become a scalpel, forceps, a syringe, needle and thread, a roll of gauze, and a few other things as well. It seemed awkward at first since I had originally learned the game using the DS's stylus, but within a few minutes I came to see that although the Wiimote isn't as immediate and immersive as holding an implement and touching the screen with my hand, the nunchuk actually improved speed and control—there's no longer any need to pick an implement with the active (operating) hand.

Under the Knife's clean, attractive presentation and well-written story are still intact. A little bit personal, a little bit political, and a little bit science-fiction, the developers fare better than most in this area. Although not packing the amount of plot found in your average RPG, the still-frame cutscenes are actually worth reading and enhance the game nicely with solid characters and intelligence. In addition to the original content, Second Opinion introduces a new, mysterious female doctor. Although her storyline isn't very long, she has some of the most interesting operations in the game and is tightly interwoven into the reworked endgame sequence.

Since Second Opinion is an update and not really a sequel, I can forgive the fact that there still isn't any choice given to players about the direction of the story or the dialogue between the doctors and nurses. (Being a bit more RPG-ish in this respect would be a fine addition to the formula.) However, the developers were clearly listening to their audience with regard to the difficulty level.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion Screenshot

Under the Knife was incredibly hard, so much so that I actually couldn't finish the final operation even after a whole day of trying. Second Opinion mercifully includes adjustable difficulty settings that weren't available before, and they're a godsend. Procedures that gave me hand cramps and ulcers before are now pleasantly challenging, and the previously impossible "last battle" is now quite manageable. I felt the developers did themselves a great disservice by making such a fantastic game prohibitively difficult last time, and I'm overjoyed to see that this particular problem has been corrected.

I originally called Trauma Center: Under the Knife one of the most worthwhile purchases for the Nintendo DS, and Second Opinion is every bit as vital to the Wii. There's nothing else on shelves quite like these games, and Trauma Center: Second Opinion capitalizes perfectly on the highly unconventional interaction style Nintendo is bringing to this generation's table. Rather than a gimmick or a quick add-on like some other Wii titles, Second Opinion's gameplay feels tailor-made for the Wiimote and clearly displays its potential. I hope more developers follow suit. Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway has been gaming since the days when arcades were everywhere and the Atari 2600 was cutting edge. So, like... A while.

Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.

Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.

Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway
Brad Gallaway

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malkav11
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malkav11
9 years 3 months ago
It’s good to hear that the Wii version makes changes beyond simply moving it to a larger screen and motion controls. I really wanted to like the DS version, but I got fed up and sent it back to Gamefly after the fifth time I failed only a few missions in. I just did not seem to have time to handle the mission with the rapidly appearing blood clots, even with the Healing Touch. And the fact that it sometimes wouldn’t recognize what I wanted it to do didn’t help. (Zooming in and out, mostly, but I think there may… Read more »
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Chili Con Carnage Art 

A one-trick pony that manages to stay entertaining far longer than I would have ever expected, Chili Con Carnage is a passable action title more notable for its absurdity and humor than for its gameplay.

Entirely comprised of the sort of leap-to-the-side-while-in-slow-motion "bullet time" action that's been a common staple since John Woo and Max Payne made it popular, Chili Con Carnage doesn't bring anything new to the table. The third-person action meets the basic requirements, and the nondescript environments featuring "I am a videogame level" architecture lack sizzle.

The game's hero, Ram, can throw himself in any direction and perform impossible headshots with ease thanks to the smooth and efficient targeting system. Although the game sometimes zeroes in on the wrong enemy, most of the time all that's needed is to point the targeting reticule at the desired bad guy, hold the right shoulder button until it turns yellow (almost like a timing minigame) and pull the trigger. Voilà! One less goon to contend with. Repeat this action several thousand times, and the result is Chili Con Carnage.

Chili Con Carnage Screenshot

However, that's not to say the game doesn't have merit. In actuality, the developers have a sense of humor that I greatly appreciated, and the choice to populate the game entirely with Hispanic characters (and accompanying Hispanic voice actors) gives it an interesting flavor. Although some players may see the ethnic stereotypes as offensive, I saw them as purposefully irreverent and found the lack of seriousness (all too common in this kind of game) to be quite refreshing—and before any readers accuse me of being culturally insensitive, I come from a Hispanic background myself.

I couldn't help but laugh when I tossed a loaded piñata into a courtyard and watched a mob of thugs descend on it like greedy buzzards seconds before it exploded. A different pickup allowed me to summon a hulking luchador named "El Gimpo" to bring the beatdown, and yet another pays open homage to Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi with dual guitar cases that spit death. Some gags are a little obvious like the free-roaming chickens in every environment, yet I found it all to be pleasantly tongue-in-cheek, and not at all in bad taste.

Though I admit that Chili Con Carnage's style won me over, my appreciation of its intellectual slant can't erase the fact that its formula of endless headshots is extremely simplistic. Even worse, the difficulty curve can spike erratically, enemies on different elevations are a nightmare to target, and there were a number of times when I felt like the game was barely holding itself together.

Chili Con Carnage Screenshot

For example, I defeated the first boss with exactly one shot. It wasn't supposed to happen that way, but an unexplainable glitch occurred and before I knew what had happened, I was watching a victory cinematic. In another area I kept dying over and over, completely frustrated because I couldn't figure out how to progress. It turned out that the game was glitching again—simply exiting a vehicle was immediately killing my character when it should have been allowing me to go on. Don't even get me started on the final boss; it took me forever to finish the game because I couldn't get a required contextual action to occur.

I love the sass and energy of Chili Con Carnage, but the developers behind it need to spend as much time on polish and balance as they do on comedy. More technical elbow grease and more thorough playtesting would have helped work out some of the kinks that hold it back, and a smoother ride would have easily kicked the experience up a notch. Based on the evidence, I believe that Deadline Games is capable of putting out something more satisfying—but in its current state, Chili Con Carnage is more like chips and salsa than arroz con pollo. Rating: 6 out of 10

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway has been gaming since the days when arcades were everywhere and the Atari 2600 was cutting edge. So, like... A while.

Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.

Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.

Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway
Brad Gallaway

Latest posts by Brad Gallaway (see all)