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Wii Trauma Center impressions

Hands-on with Second Opinion, a complete regeneration of the DS title that uses Wii's controller perfectly

Trauma Center: Second Opinion - a surgery sim that has gamers performing operations - usually gets buried under the mountain of hype for Zelda, Mario and other big-shot titles. But after an extended hands-on session, we discovered a title that's so inventive, intuitive and outright fun that it deserves to be on everyone's Wii wish list.

Trauma Center originated on DS, where gamers used the stylus to perform surgical operations on ill or wounded patients within a strict time limit. It sounds odd, we admit, but its extreme challenge (it's one of the toughest games on DS) and magnificent sense of satisfaction made it an underground gems. Second Opinion for the Wii is essentially a remake of the DS game, taking the same formula but enhancing it with the Wii's unique control system.

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It's almost as if the Wii controller and Nunchuk was designed specifically for this game. The two work together as well as Super Mario 64 did with the N64 controller, and it perfectly demonstrates the capabilities of the Wii controller.

You play the game using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk configuration. The Wii Remote acts like the stylus on the DS version; using the Remote's pointer functionality, you move a small reticule around the screen to slice, stitch, inject or use any of the tools at your disposal.

So, for example, if you have the scalpel selected you point the remote at the incision line, press and hold the B trigger to apply the blade to the patient and move the remote to slice. But even more impressive, the game uses the buttons on remote in ways to enhance the feeling of using each tool. For example, clamping an object with the forceps requires you to push both the A (on the top of the remote) and the B buttons. Genius.

Equipping your tools is done with the analogue stick on the Nunchuk expansion. The tool icons are arranged in a circle on the lower left corner of the screen. To equip a tool you simply push the analogue stick on the Nunchuk in the direction of the tool in that circle. This means that, unlike the DS game, which had you selecting tools with your stylus, you never have to divert your operating remote away from the patient.

After a few operations you begin to learn which directions bring up specific tools, and you'll be flicking the analogue stick rapidly, switching tools without even looking at the icons. This instantaneous speed introduces new possibilities over the DS version. In one operation, we had to burn away small boils with the laser, but they would almost instantly start bleeding. On the DS, you would have needed to drain the blood after each boil before applying the antidote fluid to cure them. But on the Wii version you can flick between the laser and the antidote rapidly, lasering and curing boils so fast they don't even get the chance to bleed.

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We had concerns about the Wii remote's accuracy, because we know through playing the DS version that precise application of the tools, particularly the scalpel, forceps and laser is essential. The slightest slip could injure your patient. But believe us - quash all your concerns now because we had no problem whatsoever making tiny movements on screen with absolute precision. The stitching has been massively improved, with the bad gesture recognition of the DS version now refined to 100 percent reliability.

And if you're thinking that having played the DS version will make playing this pointless, you're wrong. Yes, this is a remake, but there will be so many new features that it's hardly the same at all. There's a new playable character with all new operations (including new operation types that you never saw on DS), and even multiple difficulty options, for those who couldn't quite reach the NINJA level of skill required to get anywhere in the DS game.

Second Opinion is due to launch alongside the Wii on December 8. Ignore your preconceptions and swallow your gaming pride. Put down the first-person shooters and urban granny-punching games that your mates think are cool and give this a go. Believe us - it's brilliant.

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