Trauma Center: Under the Knife

Forget about making the grades in school. Trauma Center is where you really hone your skills for med school.

Can', cut it in a real trauma center? Fret not, young surgeon wannabe--this Trauma Center is just what the doctor prescribed, even if you don't know the difference between a cardiac arrest and an aneurism.

Clean Hands Not Required
Who knew that the thin, little plastic DS stylus can do wonders for an injured person? In this take on emergency room antics, you're a young surgeon who must exhibit lightning fast reflexes and sturdy hands to heal the onslaught of people in pain coming into your hospital. Through using the stylus and touchscreen, your tasks are the typical emergency room fare: from removing shards of glass and healing a spleen to heart massaging and extracting tumors. With a simple touch on the screen, the stylus can quickly turn into various instruments like a scalpel, forceps, and even healing gel--all of which are necessary for specific procedures that the game slowly and intuitively walks you through.

An overly dramatic story of personal growth gives the game direction, but the true action lies on the operating table. About one-third into the game, you'll soon realize that performing what may be routine in a real hospital can be one exhilarating and sometimes frustrating experience for us medical amateurs. A simple procedure will usually turn into a complicated mess of blood spilling, shouts from the nurse, and constant multi-tasking to keep the patient alive and well. This is unnerving action at its best.

Intensive Care
This is also still fictitious action, which is underlined by a simple visual and audio package. Of course, most of the graphics are highlighted by different shades of red, and your instruments look as sterile as they do in real life. Pulsating hearts and spurting blood have more life than the cartoony hospital colleagues with whom you interact. The sound of a beeping heart monitor round up the sparse audio department.

Still, it's the game's premise that really draws in so much fun. Though on a very basic level, you'll learn a host of medical terms and understand real life surgical procedures that are common occurrences in a hospital. Moreover, this is one of the few DS games that intuitively takes advantage of the touch screen. Even if you're squeamish of a needle or feel faint at the sight of blood, Trauma Center is a cure for what has been a spell of mediocrity on the DS.

KEY MOMENT: Receiving a "cool" after using a scalpel to open up a patient.

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