Surgeon Simulator 2 Review: I Got a Fever In My Bones
I have an irrational fear of anything medical. A single ache in my body and I’m fast-tracking myself to the emergency room. Every time it’s nothing, and I’m sent on my way with what is more than likely placebos.
With that in mind, the very idea of playing Surgeon Simulator 2 should chill me to my core; even watching a simple medical procedure in a movie is enough to have me diving behind the sofa.
Yet, despite my squeamish nature, I found myself hacking away at patients in Surgeon Simulator 2, laughing at the game's absurdity with each new cut of the knife.
With co-op multiplayer and a new take on level design, Surgeon Simulator 2 is bigger, better, and more elaborate than the first installment. Its changes are more than skin deep, presenting completely new gameplay systems and dozens of new ways to engage in hilariously dark but cathartic antics.
In a year where the medical world has turned into a veritable nightmare, Surgeon Simulator 2 lightens the mood for many that have spent the majority of the past few months sheltered away.
Surgeon Simulator 2 Review: I Got A Fever In My Bones
Surgeon Simulator 2's gameplay has greatly evolved from its predecessor. Gone are the restraints of performing operations in a single room. Instead, the game's entire environment is fully explorable, filled with physics-based challenges to overcome and operations to perform.
Propelling that new open design is the inclusion of a narrative that moves players from one elaborate stage to the next. While Surgeon Simulator often felt like an episode of Scrubs on drugs, its sequel often feels like a game of Operation if devised by the team behind the Saw series. (Imagine a group of people locked in a room with no escape and forced to attempt surgery on an unconscious patient, then you're in the right ball park.)
Set across multiple stages, the Surgeon Simulator 2 campaign lets players cut and slice either solo or cooperatively. They can do so with up to three other players as they help a patient named Bob undergo multiple procedures.
These range from a heart transplant to literally swapping his head with a new one (which is dispensed from a machine like a can of Coke). If that sounds stupid, it’s because it is, and Surgeon Simulator 2 embraces that stupidity from its very first moments.
It’s not long before the plot detours and meanders down the path of dark comedy, very much in the vein of Portal. While it never reaches the dizzying heights of the games it’s inspired by, the story is well worth cutting through.
The journey to the game's ending is extended by its fully explorable environments, where players explore each escape-room-like level while figuring out the best ways by which to operate on Bob and move on to the next procedure.
Sometimes, operating utensils are hidden away, forcing you to search high and low for them before beginning an operation. Other times, an organ you need is locked behind a door, but that door is locked by a fuse, and that fuse is locked behind another door, forcing you to find an alternate path through and around.
These challenges only grow in complexity as the narrative drives forward, infusing the fairly mundane procedures with vim and vigour because while performing procedures on Bob is fun early on, it’s not long before the repetition of each goal kicks in.
There’s only a handful of things Bob will need during each operation, and Surgeon Simulator will have you repeating the same procedures again and again and again.
Luckily, Surgeon Simulator 2's physics-based controls make the seemingly simple tasks a nightmare — in all the best ways.
Holding a saw with your pinkie finger as you hack off one of Bob’s limbs is a sight to behold, and even better to witness in co-op. Squirming your arm about to find the perfect angle is often hilarious, even if it does become a bit tedious after multiple operations.
Outside of the fairly short 3- to 4-hour campaign, Surgeon Simulator 2’s Creative Mode leverages user-created content to increase the game's replay value.
The sheer number of tools available is frankly staggering, and the imagination that's already been pumped into the mode will only expand over time. Even though some of the levels available are fairly barebones right now, there are levels such as mazes and even bowling alleys ready to dive into at launch. No doubt that as the months go on, the community will find interesting new ways to breathe new life into this mode.
That's because even building these levels is a joy, invoking the creative inspiration found in something like The Sims. Rooms are built through a handbook filled with items, and bringing friends along to coordinate ideas is a stroke of genius.
Surgeon Simulator 2 Review — The Final Score
- Fun evolution of original concept
- Co-op is a blast
- Surprisingly engaging narrative
- Operations can get repetitive
- Short campaign
- Cumbersome controls
While some sequels fail to build upon the entries that came before them, turning into bloated, convoluted messes, Surgeon Simulator 2 reshapes the original idea into something entirely new.
Not everything lands, the campaign is short, surgeries can get repetitive, and the physics-based controls can occasionally hamper the enjoyment. But it’s hard not to admire the creativity driving the evolution of this sequel.
For better or for worse, Surgeon Simulator 2 is something entirely different and a game that builds a solid foundation for a strong future.
[Note: Bossa Studios provided the copy of Surgeon Simulator 2 used for this review.]