Review: Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition (PS4)

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Title: Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2.48 GB)
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Bossa Studios Limited
Developer: Bossa Studios Limited
Original MSRP: $12.99
ESRB Rating: T
Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition is also available on Steam.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Studies show that surgeons who regularly play video games perform 37% better than their non-gaming counterparts. Let’s hope that these surgeon gamers steer clear of this title for practice. Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition is anything but what its title suggests. Expect to destroy the innards of unsuspecting, unconscious patients.

You’re given a taste of the purposely wonky control scheme right from the menu screen as you fumble around your desk, figuring out your options. Good luck trying not to destroy and disorganize your office supplies. After finding your files, it’s time to enter the operating room. You will be given a report of the surgery at hand and you’re free to begin the hack job with about as much surgical prowess as our clumsy protagonist.

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Taking the reigns of your first task, a heart transplant, can be exciting and fun at first. If by this point you have not yet realized that the game doesn’t intend to take itself seriously, the power tools amongst your scalpels and syringes might drop a hint. From this point on throughout the rest of the game, chaos and mayhem will ravage the operating room as you fight the controls for a successful surgery. Gallons of blood will coat your arm and tools, leaving little hope for the man under the knife.

The left analog stick moves your arm left and right, as well as forward and backward. The shoulder buttons are used to change the elevation of your arm, rotate your hand, and move your fingers in a clamping manner that allows you to pick up your instruments. There is a bit of customization allowed with the controls. Players can opt to use the motion tracking technology in the DualShock 4 to rotate the hand. The options screen shows a field for camera control but the game crashes and closes every time the option is accessed.

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I began my first operation by using a hammer to break my patient’s rib cage. I then used my unprotected, unsanitary hands to pick out the bone pieces and expose the heart. To remove it, I had to snip some aortas with my trusty scalpel. I then dropped in the new heart after taking it out of some rather careless packaging and the surgery was deemed a success!

Even though it doesn’t follow conventional video game rules, you can and most most likely will lose a lot in Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition. I’m not sure if you can avoid making your patient bleed, but the rate of blood loss is what’s important. Lose your nerve and/or patience and the hemorrhaging will cause a complete blood drain, leading to a failed surgery.

A report after the surgery grades your efficiency by measuring factors such as total time and blood loss. There are different types of surgeries in the game so players can expect good variety.

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Visuals:
The entire game is presented in the first-person viewpoint so there is an intimacy to your botched practices. There is nothing noteworthy about the graphic quality as this is not a focus for the title. It looks on par with the visuals we experienced early in the PS3’s lifecycle. Since the environments consist of operating rooms, there isn’t much in the way of distinguishing areas or lighting achievements.

Audio:
What is the best background noise for performing an operation that will decide someone’s life? Mozart? Bach? This “simulation” suggests generic, 80’s rock and roll with a clever beep from the heart monitor worked into the beat. The audio adds to the overall ridiculousness of the entire experience but it is not at all varied.

Online/Multiplayer:
There is no online component to the game but you can play couch co-op. Each player will control one of the surgeon’s arms, amplifying both the fumbling and the carnage.

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Conclusion:
Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition can be incredibly fun… for about a half hour. The developers, Bossa Studios Limited, have made it a nightmare to critique this game as everything I would normally use this space to complain about was done intentionally. The controls are terrible, purposely so, audio and visual components are unpolished, but unnecessary to gameplay, and the “fun factor”, a phrase coined by the long defunct GamePro Magazine as its most important review metric, is top notch but unsustainable.

Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition does not try to compete with industry leaders, showcase revolutionary tech, or even validate its own existence as a good game. It is the evolution of a product from a game jam. Evident from the studio’s latest work – I am Bread, which follows a slice of bread on a quest to become toast. Clearly these guys are all about bringing their quirkiest ideas to life. Surgeon Simulator: A&E Anniversary Edition however produces a cute experiment rather than a worthwhile experience.

Score:
5.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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