Surgeon Simulator

Surgeon Simulator 2013

Though the clinical title suggests otherwise, Surgeon Simulator 2013 won't help medical students get their licence.

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Humour is very much at the forefront. The objective is it to remove all obstructing organs to perform a transplant in the least realistic way possible.

The game revels in slapstick humour. Whether you're playing or just watching, a devilish chuckle is almost guaranteed. The original concept was thrown together at the Global Game Jam, an event that asks creators to pitch and build a game in 48 hours, this past January, with this refined version now being stretchered onto Steam.

You control the hovering arm of the world's worst surgeon. Rather than a disciplined and dedicated medical hero, you take a more slapdash approach. If the objective is to perform a heart transplant you'll do that, but the patient won't have any other organs when you're done.

Surgeon Simulator
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To complete a surgery you must make sure the patient doesn't bleed out. The green syringe is your most valuable tool, if you can manipulate the hand capably enough to grab it. Stabbing it into the patients fleshy bits stops blood loss. Accidentally stab yourself with it and the screen morphs into psychedelic tricolour blur. If objects seemed difficult to grip at first, this makes it nearly impossible.

The surgeon's hand is controlled through a deliberately unwieldy combination of keys and mouse. Default controls have each finger represented by a,w,e and r; wrist rotation with the right mouse button; lowering and raising the hand with the left. Its challenging, sometimes frustrating, and requires a significant amount of dexterity and finesse. Even basic tasks, like picking up a scalpel prove to be monumentally awkward.

The first surgery is likely to be the most difficult for new players. There's plenty of instruments to use, players must decided if it's better to carefully remove the ribcage with the spinning saw or simply smash it to pieces with a hammer. All manner of things can go wrong. You don't stitch patients up, but if you did law suits would shortly follow when hollowed-out people discover the wrist watch or drinks bottle left inside them. Good job they're out cold when the spinning saw is accidentally dropped on their crotch.

The menu between surgeries is a delightful test of how far you've progressed. It's a reception desk littered with hints and secrets. Navigated using the same detached hand and tricky control scheme, you can load a floppy disk, answer the telephone or put a videotape into the vcr. For the frustrated doctor, hurling everything from the desk to the floor is fantastic stress relief.

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Surgeon Simulator

There's three operations to conquer; heart transplant, double kidney transplant and brain surgery. After completing the 'standard' surgeries, ambulance levels are unlocked. These massively increase the difficulty. As well as mouse and keyboard mastery, you have to contend with things flying everywhere. The ambulance doors burst open, fire extinguishers detach themselves from the wall, and that pesky organ you need will fall beyond reach if your not careful. There's nice bonus content to unlock for players that look for it. The recent addition of Team Fortress 2 characters to hack through slightly extends the lifespan, but most players will get through Surgeon Simulator pretty quickly.

The surgeries don't necessarily increase in difficulty. By the time you get to brain surgery the procedure is relatively simple. Sure, accidentally cut the brain to deep and your patient will die instantly, but by this time you've had enough experience to avoid such slip-ups.

The ridiculous nature of the game is punctuated by cartoony 3D graphics. The instruments for destruction are nicely detailed with plenty of variety, but nothing is jaw-dropping about the style. It's functional and fitting rather than anything eye-popping. Some clipping issues creep in, but given the ridiculous gameplay they don't significantly impact the experience. Sound is serviceable. The buzz of the motor saw and squelch of grabbed organs are welcome touches. The soundtrack would benefit from more variety, but the option to turn it off is available.

I asked a real-life surgeon to sample the game, her reaction was that was it was more difficult than what she did on a daily basis, and not at all realistic. During the kidney transplant operation, rather than operating through the patients back like a real surgeon would, you cut through the front. She was particularly unimpressed when I decided to adorn the patients neck with a fancy scarf that used to be his lower intestine. But surgery is much more fun when you're ripping out guts, hurling livers across the room and humiliating your unconscious victim, erm... patient.

Surgeon Simulator

I had a lot of fun making up a back story for my doctor. A dodgy backstreet cutter with a substance problem, he drunkenly hacks through organs, and has a habit of frequently injecting himself with the life saving syringe. He's clearly taken a few wrong turns in life, but people will always need cheap surgery and who's better than the washed up drug addict with an expired medical degree to perform such a service?

The few hours Surgeon Simulator 2013 provides are entertaining. Because of the amount objects to interact with, and the gruesomely amusing interpretation of saving lives, its easy to want to persevere. You'll forgive it's faults because of the fun you'll have excavating body parts but when done, you're left wanting more; more operations, more hidden content, and more gory hilarity.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+Hilariously gory slapstick humour +Challenging controls to master +Lots of extra in-game content
-Relatively short -Repetitive soundtrack -Occasional clipping issues
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REVIEW. Written by Jon Newcombe

Though the clinical title suggests otherwise, Surgeon Simulator 2013 won't help medical students get their licence.

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