Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition Review

What did the patient say to their overly annoying doctor during Liposuction?

“Doctor, you’re really starting to get under my skin!”

Did you laugh at that joke? Probably not. But will you laugh at Surgeon Simulator? Absolutely.

According to the game, no introduction is necessary when you’re thrown into the deep end with both the controls and the objective. Yes, your objective is to deliver certain surgeries under various conditions but there are no clear explanations on how to do this and the game hereafter can either frustrate or be the nucleus of entertainment. Starting at your desk and waving your hand around like you’re trying to swat illusory bees, you try and get used to the controls by picking the phone up, along with various other objects, with the use of the R1/R2 button and tilting your controller around to get the right angle, making full use of the controller’s gyroscope feature. For the most part, the gyroscope works well, but I soon ended up switching my movement of the hand to the right analogue stick.

You do look an idiot steering your pad around like you’re a jet fighter pilot, but not five minutes into this intro I was giggling when slapping everything around in a failed attempt to hold anything – this was only the beginning of the chaos to come.

So I performed my first open heart surgery and how did it go? Well, to put it bluntly if I’d have done what I did to my patient in a real-life circumstance, my inane psychotic actions would have been plastered on the front page of every newspaper and I’d have been sued for lots and lots of money. I find with the game in particular that you have a better experience playing it with a few buddies (alcohol consumption optional), than playing alone. To elaborate, when sat playing Surgeon Simulator by myself I began to exclaim and swear at my failings through what I blamed on bad controls, but when a few friends came round to try it out we laughed so hard at each other’s attempts that we lost track of time. It’s only now I dread to think what the neighbours must have thought when a bunch of guys next door were shouting such thing as, “Rip his lungs out and replace it with the soda bottle”, or “bash his head around with the empty Diazepam bottle to pop his eyes out.” Moreover, if a friend has an extra controller handy, get that thing connected for two player co-op because this definitely doubles the fun and laughter.

Starting with open heart surgery, you unlock different body parts to operate on: from kidneys to the brain, and after you’ve done with those you unlock different stages to perform selected surgeries. Just when you think you have the hang of the controls and certify yourself as a badass surgeon you’ve always wanted to be, you’re thrown a curve ball and asked to take someone’s body apart whilst in the back of a moving ambulance. Where your instruments of choice were still on the operating table beforehand, they are now moving about the place as the ambulance rocks side to side to distract and amuse. This might be the first time in my life where something chaotic was actually fun and I don’t want to go into too much detail about the levels because it’s more fun to not know what you’re unlocking. If you stick with it and become a half decent Pseudo-Surgeon, there’s also an extra hidden level to unlock which will surely put a smile on your face.

The trophy system actually gives a reason to play this game. I personally find the trophy system a necessity when gaming because I believe unlocking trophies not only increases the longevity of the game you own, but also has you feeling proud when doing the impossible through a game’s most epic of moments. Some will disagree of course, but the trophy list in Surgeon Simulator acts as a sort of ‘to do’ list. For example, one trophy may ask you to successfully perform a heart transplant in under one minute and fifty seconds and another may require you to get the best possible grade on all surgeries (are you kidding me?). It’s this that has you coming back to the game for just one more go and to beat your friends, or even beat your own set times.

The game sadly isn’t without its downfalls; one can’t deny the frustration this game can cause when it’s at its worst. The game can glitch from time to time when you find your hand is poking through objects you try to pick up. There was a particular case where I dropped a kidney back into the patient’s chest, only not to be able to pick it back up afterwards when my hand could clearly grab it. Moreover, for one or two of the surgeries I had to bring up a guide on how to actually complete the level as there’s no tutorial. One could argue that the fun is in finding out HOW to complete a stage, but with no clear indication and frustration building up from these issues, you start to lose patience with your patients and load up another game. This being said however, these are only minor faults.

As serious as the title is, this game clearly doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you. The game is meant to be silly, over the top and be an outrageously hyperbolic take on surgery. The creators have put enough nods to different pop culture references with a few hidden Easter eggs here and there that you’re bound to at least smile, if not hurt your sides from laughter, especially with the controls. I would consider this more of a party game or at least best played with another and for its acceptable price on the PlayStation Store, I’d suggest a purchase. Don’t expect the next “Trauma center” here and take the game for what it is – a low budget fun simulator. One can only imagine what could be included in any possible sequels: Veterinary Surgeon Simulator, anyone?


Aiden Pilling

Being brought into the gaming world with a Sega MegaDrive at an early age and later falling in love with the PlayStation, Aiden spent most of his childhood using his pocket money to borrow games at his local Blockbuster store (RIP) and became hooked on gaming ever since. He currently studies English and Creative Writing at the University of Salford and spends his downtime binge watching TV shows and movies.

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