Surgeon Simulator 2 faithfully captures the spirit of Operation, Milton Bradley’s skill-testing board game: it’s fun with friends but can be teeth-grindingly tedious if you play it alone.
Without a doubt, there’s joy to be had the first time you delve into Surgeon Simulator 2. The sheer wealth of items available to you is mind-blowing, even if the NHS would frown upon their surgical use.
Yes, you can crack your patient’s ribs with a surgical hammer, but why bother hunting one down when you’ve got an oxygen tank just sitting around? A few whacks in the chest and job’s a good ‘un. And who needs a bone saw when you’ve got a perfectly good axe just lying around? Cackling like a lunatic is entirely optional, but I can heartily recommend it.
If haven’t cottoned on, Surgeon Simulator 2 is not a serious medical sim. As was the case with the original, you interact with the world by flailing your arm about, though this time round you don’t need to worry about controlling individual fingers. Got a patient with a sickly small intestine? You can yank it right out – and as long as you drop a new one in their chest cavity, it’s a win.
But the more you pull, the more blood your patient loses; so while you can tear their leg off and slap a new one on, if you don’t use a bone saw, they may bleed to death in the interim. Still, even if your first surgery fails, you’ll jump right back in the saddle, eagerly awaiting the ever-escalating challenges Surgeon Simulator 2 will surely throw at you. What’s next? An eye transplant? Dental work? Brain surgery, even?
Nope, that’s it. Surgeon Simulator 2 may mix up the parts you have to swap out but each operation is essentially the same. Sure, you might be conducting surgery wearing assless chaps* and a false moustache, thanks to the game’s character customisation option, but there’s an unforgivable lack of variety, especially compared to the original Surgeon Simulator.
*Surgeon Simulator 2 may or may not contain assless chaps.
Bossa Studios have tried to mix things up by giving Surgeon Simulator 2 a story, which sees you roaming the corridors of a ramshackle training hospital. But in doing so, they’ve robbed it of the energy that made the first Surgeon Simulator such a smash. The puzzle elements, which are rarely that taxing, feel wholly unnecessary, and the story is nothing to write home about. Furthermore, since the game doesn’t sport mid-level saves, forcing you to roam around introduces an extra note of frustration.
After one minor operation, you find yourself running around behind the hospital’s walls – at which point, your would-be saviour tasks you with another operation. There’s no logical reason why, after imparting the hospital’s secrets, you’d have to do this. Fail this operation, which is near-identical to all the others you’ve tackled, and you’re forced to redo both of that level’s operations.
It feels like Surgeon Simulator 2 desperately wants to be a puzzle game in the vein of Portal. But Valve’s classic was, above all, true to its title; playing with portals was an integral part of the game. Here, you spend half of your time out of surgery, swapping fuses and pushing buttons, activities which are rarely entertaining.
Surgeon Simulator 2’s saving grace is multiplayer; the fun factor multiplies the more players you can rope in. Instead of administering life-saving fluid that will stop your patient bleeding to death, you’re dealing with the chaos the other “surgeons” bring to the operating table. If you’re lucky, you’ll be playing with people you know, dividing up tasks and working together like a well-oiled machine. If not, you’ll be struggling to keep your hapless victim alive while your colleague plays “she loves me, she loves me not” with their limbs.
Another neat feature is the game’s creation mode, allowing you to create your own levels, and play through other players’ creations. As with any user-created content though, the levels I dived into were a real mixed bag; I stumbled into several which seemed to exist only to increase players’ experience. It’s telling that one of the most highly-rated user levels attempts to recreate the original in-your-face experience of Surgeon Simulator.
Surgeon Simulator 2 has merit as a multiplayer experience, more so if you can get a gin-sodden group of friends involved. But as a single-player game, you’ll find it’s a repetitive step backwards from Surgeon Simulator’s manic shenanigans.