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‘Surgeon Simulator’ for iPad game review

Surgeon Simulator for iPad is a port of the popular game that was released on Steam last year. Although the game claims to be a simulator, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The game had you performing hilarious operations on an unsuspecting patient in ways that would send an actual surgeon or patient reeling in horror.

Now the same game has been ported over completely to the iPad, which is the only platform right now other than the desktop PC to have the game. We picked up our scalpel and decided to get our hands dirty before Bob’s anesthesia wore off.

Gameplay

Surgeon Simulator is a pseudo-simulator, which means it is not really trying to be accurate. In fact, it deliberately make the whole process of performing surgery on someone as inaccurate and hilarious as possible.

A good example of this is the heart transplant you have to start off with. You cut Bob’s ribs off completely, and then throw them away. Then you also cut and discard his esophagus, stomach and then cut and throw away the old heart. Then you take out a shiny new heart from a case and basically throw it into the hole left after removing half his internal organs. And that’s it, the surgery is over. Similarly, you do several other operations, including double kidney transplant, eye transplant and tooth transplant.

Of course, that’s a very simplistic explanation and and the game is not at all as easy as it sounds. You have to deal with Bob’s constantly depleting blood, which goes down faster the more creative you get with the tools at your disposal. Use the wrong tool for the job and Bob loses more blood than if you had used the recommended one. You can slow down the bleeding with the green syringe, however.

Depending upon the amount of time you took and blood you lost, you get a grade at the end of the operation. Finish it before a certain amount of time or blood level and you get special achievements for the same.

That is still not the hard part. It’s actually using any of the tools where the game can get intensely frustrating. The PC version of the game had a floating hand where you had to press a button for each finger and the mouse to be able to hold anything, which was QWOP-level frustrating. The iPad version gets rid of the hand and has you tapping and holding on objects and then tapping with second hand where you’d want to aim them. It’s a better system but it’s still woefully inaccurate and annoying to use.

Granted, the clumsy nature of the controls is done intentionally and part of the joke but sometimes you just want to get something done and realize you have the motor skills of a drunk chimpanzee. Perhaps this is not the game to play if you want to do some serious medical operations but it takes the joke so far that often you’d want to give up and stop playing completely.

If you don’t do that within the first fifteen minutes of the game you do get sort of used to the mechanics of the game and can move things around with a bit more dexterity. Still, it never feels precise enough and some things such as the tooth transplant are damn near unplayable.

The game is funny, as you may have noticed if you watched the umpteen gameplay videos on YouTube. There is actually a record feature that lets you record your gameplay on iPad 4 and above. Unfortunately, it’s lot more funny when you’re watching someone else play it than when you’re playing it yourself.

Graphics and Sound

Surgeon Simulator on iPad is understandably a downgrade from its desktop counterpart; the lighting, shadows and the textures don’t look as good. But despite that it is decent looking game and the visual style is deliberately cartoon-like instead of trying to be realistic.

While visually the game was fine by my standards, I did notice annoying glitches in the way objects interacted with each other. Often things would pass through other objects and worst of all, get stuck in them. The control system is frustrating as it is but it becomes worse when one of your tools get stuck somewhere it should while you’re trying to direct it elsewhere. The objects also sometimes don’t orient properly, such as the drill, which at times refused to point where I wanted it to.

The music in the game is rather amusing, considering it’s bit serious and often at odds with all the ridiculous stuff you tend to do in the game.

Verdict

Surgeon Simulator for iPad is a faithful reproduction of its desktop counterpart and in some ways they have made it better. Still, the game is quite difficult to play due to its clumsy controls. Your patience is tested far too much to truly enjoy the game. I personally found it was more fun to just watch all the gameplay videos on YouTube. If you enjoyed the game on PC, then you can consider giving it a shot. If you get frustrated easily, do yourself and your iPad a favor and avoid.

Rating: 6/10
Pros: Amusing gameplay, if you manage to get used to it
Cons: Clumsy controls take most of the fun out of it, buggy visuals

Price: $5.99
Download: iPad

Note: This game was reviewed on an iPad Air.

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