When I was young, pondering where my career path laid, my mum (as mums do) suggested becoming a surgeon! I replied with a snort: “I don’t have the skills necessary at all to be a surgeon”! My mum gave that disappointed look but mum, if you’re watching, I was right. Just look at me in action in Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition!
Surgeon Simulator started life as a PC game and as the title suggests, the game gives players a chance to be a surgeon, albeit in an Operation fashion. Surgeon Simulator requires steady and precise controls akin to being a surgeon but it’s gory and silly at the same time which makes for some hilarious watching, unfortunately though, the controls are so difficult that the player doesn’t have anywhere near as fun as the spectators.
Surgeon Simulator starts simple enough. There is a desk and a player-guided hand on the screen. This gives the player a chance to try out the controls. There are also prompts on the computer screen that shows the control scheme. The shoulder buttons controls the opening and closing of the singular hand and L2 lowers the hand, whilst the left stick controls where it goes and the right turns the wrist. Swinging the hand around is entertaining and everything on the desk can be knocked around. Straight away, you will realise just how sensitive the controls are. There is an option to use the motion sensing controls in the DualShock 4, you can even use the PlayStation Camera if you own one. I’d advise against it though because in my experience the motion sensing just doesn’t work, the controller doesn’t seem to have the sensitivity to cope with the minute movements required for being a surgeon. The Camera is also a complete non-starter, it didn’t aid the sensitivity issue whatsoever. There was even a time when the hand veered to the left constantly, making the game unplayable. I wish there was a way to calibrate all these things as I don’t think it’s the hardware at fault. They work just fine on games like The Playroom.
Practise does indeed make perfect though and with some time invested, you get used to the sensitivity and jerkiness. But not to the point where you will become a world-class surgeon and scoring A+++ on every level. I found myself only just passing most levels and only after losing many patients. Don’t misunderstand me because there is fun to be had. I enjoyed the challenge of thinking which tool would be best for which job. To crack ribs open so I can access the heart that needs transplanting, I used a saw, an electric circular saw and finally decided that the hammer was best suited for the grisly task. To actually get to the heart, a lung had to be removed and yanking it out then tossing it aside callously is quite sadistic and funny. The sense of achievement that comes when you actually manage to complete the surgery is massive because it felt like such a labour intensive and gargantuan job and that’s regardless of your final score!
There are lots of nice touches too. The surgeon’s watch displays the actual time, trouble is that it falls off amazingly easily, into cavities and preventing the surgery from being a success. Because the controls are so finicky, you’ll find yourself picking up everything but you meant to which adds to the hilarity. For instance, picking up a glass beaker instead of the scalpel. Even if you manage to pick up the scalpel, you might not be even holding it properly so you have to twist and turn to get the same result. Using scissors to severe connecting tissue is just plain violent because the action is reduced to constant stabbing. There are even times when you would accidentally knick yourself with a needle that triggers a psychedelic trip which doesn’t fade away anytime soon. Throw in some crazy backgrounds like back of ambulances and even spaceships with alien autopsies and you do have quite a funny game on your hands but it all gets bogged down with the seemingly impossible controls. A few updates might solve these issues but it’s clear as day that my beloved DualShock 4 is no match for a mouse.
Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition’s presentation matches it’s outlandish premise. The game has a slight cartoony presentation and the stars of the show, the organs look realistic. There is also a copious amount of blood thrown in just for good measure. The music is excellent as well with it’s a slight ER feel.
It would be harsh to say I didn’t enjoy Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition. I watched my wife play it and I was laughing myself silly but my wife however couldn’t play the game for any length of time without rage quitting! So maybe that’s how one would enjoy the game, by just watching it, unless you have the patience of a saint! I can’t help but compare Surgeon Simulator to Octodad: Dadliest Catch, they’re both employ an unconventional control scheme but Octodad was a lot more playable and forgiving. Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition CAN be a great game but it’s crippling control issues holds it back!