In many ways, Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator – released in 2014 – felt like one of the first ‘viral’ video games of the modern era. The perfect YouTube fodder, just as the video platform was fully hitting its stride, Surgeon Simulator utilised a bold visual style, wacky QWOP-esque controls and a unique premise to become one of the most popular games of the year.
However, as a game, it often felt pretty shallow with no real continuity between surgeries and a reliance on the player to provide the personality. However, six years on, Bossa Studios have decided to revisit the franchise with a full sequel, Surgeon Simulator 2, and – with it – they have brought a whole raft of new features in an attempt to deliver some of the substance that the first game missed.
The first of those changes is evident almost immediately, as you make your way through a brief tutorial section (which, in itself, is a Godsend, by the way – I’d have been completely lost without it), because this game has a) a story and b) some personality injected into it, meaning you don’t have to provide it all this time around. You play a rookie surgeon, drafted in to work in a hospital that is seemingly still under construction – boxes and cans litter the hallways, doors are barricaded and the ID cards of unseen members of staff are carelessly strewn around the place. All of this, combined with mysterious voices coming from the vents, hint at a wider story involving Dr Pam Preston, the disembodied voice who acts as your guide throughout proceedings.
This alone represents a huge step-up from the first game, and it’s a genuinely intriguing premise with plenty of backstory to be found and digested. The hospital itself, and its current state of disarray, also serve as the way in which Surgeon Simulator 2 introduces one of its new gameplay features – puzzles. No longer are you confined to one room or locale with everything you need generally within arms’ length. Now, pretty much every surgery involves multiple stages with a number of rooms to navigate and obstacles to overcome.
Take one of the game’s first missions, for example, in which you have to carry out a heart transplant. In the original Surgeon Simulator, the new heart would have been close by in an ice box, and the old heart could merely be tossed aside anywhere. That’s not the case in the sequel. Now, you have to remove the heart, place it in a receptacle, find an ID card in a completely separate location, use it to open the door to a walk-in freezer, pull a lever to dispense a new heart, and take it back to the theatre. Some real thought now has to be given to how you conduct all of this, while – at the same time – keeping your patient, Bob, alive by stopping any bleeding and topping his blood back up as required.
If this all feels like a lot for one person to deal with, especially given the unique controls that the Surgeon Simulator series is renowned for, then fear not, as Surgeon Simulator 2’s other new gameplay feature – online co-op – is here to help! Or hinder. Guess it depends on who you’re playing with, really. Regardless, it’s here that this game really begins to shine. Most importantly, it shines, no matter the skill level of those playing. The inherent slapstick nature of the game means that there are some great laughs to be had from a run going really badly. I’ve lost track of the amount of times in which my fellow players and I accidentally lopped off limbs – or even heads – whilst trying to do something as simple as crack a rib. And Surgeon Simulator 2 leans into that slapstick at every opportunity. There’s something grotesquely and viscerally enjoyable about removing a limb or an organ by just grabbing it and ripping it off or out (the pop is oddly satisfying – not sure what this says about me…).
However, the game also more than adequately caters for those who look to play it a little more cohesively. There’s a great satisfaction to be gleaned from nailing a run quickly and tidily – indeed, the game rewards such play by offering different cosmetic rewards for meeting objectives, such as completing a surgery within a certain time limit or by minimising blood loss during the procedure.
Yes, cosmetics are another new feature – unsurprising, really, given the fact that co-op means that you can see what other players look like and, in fact, you can even see what you look like, thanks to a full-length mirror within your own little hub. Character models look great and it’s really funny watching them running around, one arm outstretched and flailing around. It all adds to the natural comedy Surgeon Simulator 2 possesses.
The game does have some issues, mostly on the technical side. This may partly be down to the fact that I have a fairly mid-range PC, but load times can be excruciatingly long, quitting to desktop can sometimes take in excess of a full minute, and loading into levels can often produce a few seconds of fairly extreme stuttering. However, in the grand scheme of things, these are fairly minor quibbles, and shouldn’t detract from an otherwise enjoyable all-round experience.
Retaining what made the first game unique, whilst making it a much more rounded experience that you’ll be more likely to revisit, Surgeon Simulator 2 is a good single-player experience that becomes pretty special in online co-op. Gather some mates and it’s one of the most fun multiplayer experiences of the year.
Surgeon Simulator 2 is available now on
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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