REVIEW: ‘Surgeon Simulator 2’ – Great in Theory, Clunky on Console (XSX)

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Surgeon Simulator 2: Access All Areas

Surgeon Simulator 2: Access All Areas arrived this week on Xbox via Game Pass to offer the latest in physics-based surgery simulation from Bossa Studios. Play your way through single-player and multiplayer levels, amputating and transplanting surgery dummy Bob’s limbs and organs. Just be careful not to let him bleed out.

Surgeon Simulator 2 is a novel idea for a game of this type. Surgery simulation games have long been popular, but this is the first time I’ve played one with intense physics-based mechanics and a first-person perspective. Levels have two aspects: a small platforming bit where you must navigate locked doors and hidden surgical objects, and surgery where you amputate limbs or remove and replace organs from a test dummy. All the while, you must maintain the patient’s blood level and manage their rate of blood loss. It’s simple, but the possibilities for levels are pretty varied, especially with the level creator.

To perform your surgeries, you must move your player’s left hand, arm, and wrist along three different axes to grab tools, use them as precisely as you can, and keep Bob the surgery simulation dummy from bleeding out. Of course, this very ragdoll gameplay would be unsuccessful in a serious hospital environment, but fortunately, this cartoonish world filled with odd items like rubber ducks laying around the surgery rooms feels like it belongs together.

However, playing on the console, I found the ragdolling excruciatingly difficult to control. You control your left arm in different directions and wrist by holding down one button and moving a corresponding joystick. None of the movements felt intuitive or precise at any given time. The tutorial level was not especially helpful either. The instructions for which buttons to press for what actions are only given via messages on whiteboards essentially, and the lady who gives you instructions and seems to own the place only repeats herself a small number of times before basically shutting up completely. I hate the repetitiveness of narrators giving tutorial instructions over and over as much as anybody, but I found her instructions barely clear the first time, so never hearing them again left me having to figure out how to do surgery for myself.

And even once I did figure things out, the accuracy with which I needed to make cuts or break ribs or pluck out an organ was just too much for my controller to handle well. Surgeries that could have probably taken half the time became aggravating and unfun quickly. I can imagine that this game could get chaotic and/or really well-coordinated in a multiplayer room. But the matchmaking function yielded no partners despite just launching on Xbox, and I couldn’t even bring myself to ask friends to download it out of fear that the difficult learning curve would be a waste of precious gaming time.

If you’re patient and enjoy this game genre, you can certainly get a lot of fun out of Surgeon Simulator 2. With loads of unlockables, challenges, and basically unlimited levels, its concept is strong, its wit is impressive, and its style is very enjoyable. But if you’re looking for a tight and unstressful experience, either give the potentially less finicky PC version a try, or skip this one altogether. However, it is free with Game Pass, so it’s certainly worth giving a shot for yourself if you subscribe to the service.

Surgeon Simulator 2: Access All Areas is available now on Xbox and PC.

Surgeon Simulator 2: Access All Areas
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

If you’re patient and enjoy this game genre, you can certainly get a lot of fun out of Surgeon Simulator 2. With loads of unlockables, challenges, and basically unlimited levels, its concept is strong, its wit is impressive, and its style is very enjoyable. But if you’re looking for a tight and unstressful experience, either give the potentially less finicky PC version a try or skip this one altogether. However, it is free with Game Pass, so it’s certainly worth giving a shot for yourself if you subscribe to the service.