Simulators satisfy a niche of the gaming public, whether its a digging simulator that is perfect for a little boy who loves big vehicles, or a truck simulator for someone that does genuinely have an interest in 18-wheelers, there’s pretty much a little bit of something for everyone. The best thing about simulators is that they transport you to a world very similar to the real world, but not too vividly, which means you can pretty much sample a little bit of everything in life. Surgery Simulator is the latest simulator on the shelves and allows you to take patients under the knife and perform life changing surgeries, it isn't about to win any awards and you may scoff at the idea, but the game itself holds up well as a game to keep you entertained.
Unlike a real operating theatre, in Surgery Simulator it is up to you to perform every rite needed for a surgical operation, this includes shaving areas of the patient, disinfecting them with iodine, the every important incisions, all the nasty stuff that follows, right up to stitching and bandaging the patients up, the game functions on score, and for each successful bandage, incision or stitch you will gain points, not entirely necessary for the game but a challenge none-the-less.
Because you aren’t expected to be a fully-qualified surgeon your theatre sister will guide you along every step of the way as you shave, cut, pull and stitch which is perfect as you begin to learn the ropes, and once you have memorised every trick you can turn the help off, and see just how much you memorised. Of course no matter how many times you carry out the operations they are in no way any form of tuition or training for real life, so please don't go thinking you are a qualified surgeon after playing the game for an hour or so.
Surgery Simulator is based around the eight surgical procedures that are accessed through the operations mode, with simple surgeries like a traffic accident patch up to more complex operations like a gall bladder removal you better get prepared to get up close and personal with a selection of patients. However with only eight procedures the game is a little short, and if you are a master of intricate motions on a mouse you will find that you have finished the game pretty quickly. There is the allure of 3 difficulties and free play mode which makes you question whether you could perform that operation a lot better and get a better high score.
For those of you that are impatient you’ll be surprised to find that you cannot actually start hacking people apart without completing the tutorial first. When you consider the complexity and rules to the game it’s really no surprise, and without getting used to the basics of the tutorial, you’ll find a lot of patients getting unhealthy vitals on their monitors.
Some of you will be sad to know that Surgery Simulator is very regimented, and you can’t go about willy nilly cutting up your patients when you should be shaving their leg, or bandaging them before you stitch them back up, in fact if you even attempt to use the wrong tool on your patient you will be warned, and it only takes two warnings from your Surgeon-in-chief and you’re out of the operating theatre for being negligent towards your patient.
If you are really into your surgical facts, or maybe you just didn’t understand something that the theatre sister told you to perform, you’d be happily surprised that there is an included dictionary with the game to explain all of those complex medical terms that will be way above most players heads.
What is fantastic about Surgery Simulator is that it can be played solely on a mouse, which whilst not very friendly for laptop users, makes it extremely easy to pick up and play as simulators go, in fact the only learning curve of the game in terms of gameplay is that you will need to get used to the names and uses of all of the medical equipment if you are going to succeed. In fact, Surgery Simulator is a lot like a Steady Hand game, if you stray too far off the path of an incision you’ll have to start all over again, and when you start out you’ll be cursing at how sensitive the mouse appears to be as you trace the path you should be pulling someone’s appendix out at.
Something that Surgery Simulator seems to lack is heart and story; each operation comes with a little story behind the patient and exactly what you require to do with them, but the whole allure of hospitals is the drama and the tension, Surgery Simulator is full of tension, but there isn’t the hospital drama that basic games like Theme Hospital achieves. An open operating table mode would have been a nice touch as well, alas Surgery Simulator is lacking a few obviously missing features.
When it comes down to operating on a patient it doesn’t matter if you are performing an Appendectomy or an eye operation, everything comes down to the importance on keeping your eye on the vital signs of your patients through their blood pressure and heart rate. You can perform the perfect operation, but if your patient's vitals drop dangerously low you’re out! What is most surprising because of this though is that your ability to keep their vitals in check is not actually scored at the end of the operation.
Surgery Simulator does everything it says on the tin, whilst there might not be as much as you hoped to keep yourself occupied it is an interesting simulator, the high tension is there, and it really does come down to split second actions that determine the life or death of your patient. But if Surgery Simulator teaches us something —which is not how to be surgeon- its that you don’t become a surgeon for the satisfaction or the money, it’s for the perfect score modifiers and being number 1 on the high scores! Its graphics are outdated, but as a simulator it meets all of the needs you would expect of such a game, and without the need to memorise a host of controls it is one of the most user-friendly simulators out there.
Surgery Simulator is available now in all good stores for the SRP of £24.99, and is available for purchase from the Excalibur website, it may not be a substitution for medical school, but it just might teach a thing or two about the high tension in the operating theatre, it's just a shame it can't be stretched very long.