If doctors were as slow at operating as Nintendo are at releasing Trauma Center games, the streets would overflow with the broken and half-finished. The irony of it is, New Blood is all about efficiency: four hands going at it in co-op operations where previously two sutured alone.
For Trauma heads it's sublime: take a niche title and just add more niche (that is, another fan) to appreciate it. It's uber-niche. Don't be surprised to see addicts hanging around outside GameStation, waiting to hijack the skills of anyone with a copy in their bag. Without a wingman, New Blood just isn't the same.
The benefit is obvious: two pairs of hands equals twice the speed, right? Wrong. Maybe. Four hands can 'do' fast, but they can also do strategic: you take tumours, I'll take lacerations; you scratch my back, I'll skin graft yours. Or maybe you gang up and bully each wound, pustule and biological fiend into submission. Co-op raises all kinds of questions, and online leaderboards show you the evidence of everyone's research. It could only get better with online replays, but then you'd be in the realms of worshipping fake doctors and the whole reality/videogame boundary would get weird.
Lone players are still in for fun - with its organ transplants and bone jigsaws this feels more like its own beast than Second Opinion's DS remake - but the game sings in co-op. Or rather swears, as old Mr BlameFinger turns up to help each of you dodge the malpractice bullet. Gamers who call out New Blood as being unplayable without a partner are wrong - we've finished it both ways - but something is lost when playing alone.
Either way, New Blood continues the narrative silliness of the original with a fully voiced tale of STIGMA (the latest virus), not forgetting to pause along the way for the odd kidnapping, a spot of televised gameshow surgery and a nun getting crushed by a huge rafter. If you're not going to play it for the co-op, at least play it for her.
The best Trauma Center to date, with terrific co-op play. However, we recognise that the game is ultra niche - so we've dropped our original score a little.