Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
True confession time. I’ve never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in my life and my brain boggles at the notion of how the once geeky Patrick Dempsey pushed McSteamy aside to be stud du jour. I guess this makes me the perfect critic to check into the virtual Seattle Grace and review Ubisoft’s licensed game from ABC’s hot property, Grey’s Anatomy. There’s no question that the show has grown to be a ratings powerhouse inspiring legions of fans. But, does Grey’s Anatomy: The Video Game offer enough entertainment to someone who doesn’t know their McDreamy from their McLovin?
Grey’s Anatomy: The Video Game plays like a lost collection of episodes from the show’s past – with five unique one hour storylines offered up for players to tackle. Each separate episode features a major crisis that the doctors need to address while also allowing the player to engage in the interpersonal relationships and conflicts that exist among Seattle Grace’s team of glamorous surgeons. All of these plot developments are furthered by a series of mini-games that employ the Wii-mote in different ways in order to push the story forward.
The mini-games compose the crux of gameplay. As you move your character through the story, your actions will trigger a variety of challenges. There are the obvious surgical routines, which bare a strong resemblance to the Trauma Center series, giving the player the tools of the trade and then asking you to slice and dice the patients and cure what ails them. Surprisingly, mini-games also crop up in the various character interactions. In fact, mini-games will crop up when selecting or removing dialogue options from conversation trees. The effect is akin to what is seen in the Wario Ware series of games, with a series of micro-games consistently popping up and keeping the player engaged.
Grey’s Anatomy: the Video Game targets a very specific niche – die-hard fans of the television show. As mentioned, the game plays as if these are unaired episodes from the show’s arc – so some familiarity with the characters is necessary to get the most enjoyment from the story. That said, while the game developers worked closely with the show’s producers in crafting the storylines, the crises that pop up feel like B plots that never would have made it through their weekly story pitch settings. With only five episodes to play, players can breeze through this title in about 6 hours.
That leaves the quality of the mini-games to carry the title and they just aren’t compelling enough. Everything about these mini-games is developed with casual gamers in mind – so Trauma Center fans looking for another set of procedures to flex their cutting skills, will breeze through these trials. Players are given five attempts to best a challenge and even if you fail that, you can start the challenge all over again. There’s no real consequence to your actions. The assorted micro-games that dictate how conversations flow just seem to get in the way of the narrative. If you do find yourself hooked by the story, you’ll likely bristle each time you are tasked with navigating your doctor in a Pac-Man-esque maze just to get to Neurology in time to ask Meredith out on a hot date. To its credit, the game does feature a winning visual style with the developers wisely rendering everything in crisp cel-shading. Some of the imagery really pops. On the downside, none of the show’s original actors reprise their roles here.
Ultimately, Grey’s Anatomy: The Video Game feels like a cash-in product. There are some wonderful serialized dramas that would mesh well in the interactive arena (bring on Battlestar) but Grey’s Anatomy seems pointless. The show’s fans get a better dose of scripted entertainment weekly, for free, and gamers will find a more compelling hospital adventure in the Trauma Center series. I’m seriously considering a malpractice suit.