We love our simulators here at CalmDownTom. As the site’s go-to-guy for simulator games, I have been treated to such delights as Euro Truck Simulator 2, Farming Simulator 2013, and Quarry Simulator. Good games though they were – okay, maybe not Quarry Simulator- they just didn’t scratch my itch for realism. In a gaming world that demands unrivalled authenticity, Bossa studios answered the call; they bring us Surgeon Simulator 2013.
Set in Barnardshire General Hospital, you step in to the shoes – rather, the hand – of Nigel Burke. He’s just an ordinary guy with no particular skills, talents, or medical background. How Nigel came to be operating on members of the public is of no matter. What does matter is helping Nigel through a series of complicated surgical procedures without killing his patient – known as Bob.
Procedures range from a bog-standard heart transplant, to the slightly trickier double kidney transplant, and the downright bizarre brain transplant. Nigel has his work cut out for him, but with you to guide him; things couldn’t possibly go awry, right?
Wrong. You see, Nigel doesn’t have the best motor skills. In fact he doesn’t have any. To say he is clumsy is an understatement.
The player assumes control of Nigel’s right hand (or left if you are a lefty). Each finger is mapped to a key on the keyboard. Rotating the wrist is done by holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse. Lowering the hand is just a matter of holding down the left mouse button. The control scheme is very reminiscent of QWOP. Using each key individually can be very intuitive once you wrap your head around it. In no time at all you will be slicing and dicing with all manner of surgical tools.
The word “tools” is used very loosely. There are an assortment of scalpels, scissors, saws and hammers to use to remove the inside of your patient, but the more creative in you may want to try something a little different. Luckily for you lot, Nigel often brings along various bits and pieces of his own to do surgery with. Scooping out various organs with a plastic spoon may not be the traditional method, but Nigel is a maverick doctor. He doesn’t play by yours or anyone else’s rules.
After each procedure you are assigned a rank from ‘A++’ to ‘D’. Ranks are based on the time it took to complete the operation and the amount of blood lost.
Minimising blood loss requires a steady hand, knowledge of the tools required to complete the job, and use of the green syringe (it slows the rate at which blood is lost). In the operating theatre, where things are calm an ‘A++’ rank can be achieved quite easily after a few attempts. Having proved how skilful he is, Nigel is promoted and given a change of scenery.
The back of the ambulance is a world away from the operating theatre. Where once there was quiet and nothing was stirring except the rhythmic pulse of the heart monitor, there is now flying utensils and organs. Why anyone would be transplanting organs whilst en route to the hospital, I don’t know, but as aforementioned, Nigel is a maverick.
Operating in the ambulance brings challenges of its own. Every bump in the road will send tools flying all over the place. It becomes even trickier to control Nigel’s hand movements. Major blood loss becomes inevitable. Replacement organs will fly out of the back door of the ambulance. Be forewarned, side effects to operating in the ambulance may include: high blood pressure, profane outbursts, and broken mouse syndrome. I’m inclined to believe that the people at Bossa Studios are sadists. The easily annoyed among you may want to stick to the operating theatre; the ambulance is not for the faint of heart.
Surgeon Simulator’s presentation is fairly basic. It won’t win any awards for its looks, but everything is rendered nicely. The difference between the release version and the Game Jam Demo is massive.
Say goodbye to the Casualty theme tune from the Game Jam demo, Surgeon Simulator now has an original soundtrack. The main theme can best be described as a mix of 80’s action movie music and the beeping of a heart monitor. A strange combination, but it is bound to get your head nodding and your heart pumping.
From the forty-eight hours it took to create the game jam demo, to the (just over) forty-eight days it took to make the final product, the craftsmanship shows. Surgeon Simulator 2013 is brimming with humour and character. Each of the three different operations are fun, with just the right amount of difficulty. The tools on offer give ample opportunity to experiment. Perfectionists will constantly be trying to outdo their best times and scores.
While it won’t make you a high-fiving surgical machine like The Todd or Turk from Scrubs, Surgeon Simulator 2013 will at least bring you to the levels of the incredibly cheerful, but totally inept Dr Nick Riviera.