IGN Review of Grey's Anatomy
Before Addison left, and the ghost sex happened, and the actors grew egos, Grey's Anatomy was a joy of a show that featured beautiful people set to a pretty happening soundtrack. I say this to establish my bona fides; I'm not ashamed to say that I loved watching the first few seasons of Grey's Anatomy. While my viewership has dropped off in the recent season, I do know McDreamy from McSteamy, and that Karev is a jerk with a heart, and that Yang is the ultimate in passive aggressive girlfriends. So I can review Grey's Anatomy: The Video Game with more than a working knowledge of the show, which is good, because you'd have to be a purist to get through this collection of minigames.
Don't get me wrong; this isn't a bad budget game. The production values are actually quite good for a game based on a TV show. It's just that Grey's Anatomy: The Video Game is almost hilariously random much of the time and about as challenging as trying to run into a wall. In fact, you'd probably need to run into a wall headfirst if you want a challenge, because many of its minigames wouldn't stump an 8-year old.
The game is set up like a five-episode story arc, and its television nature is evident throughout. Each episode is divided into acts, and each act is divided into multiple scenes. Each scene centers around a single character of the show, so you'll jump between pretty much everyone in Seattle Grace, from the Chief to Meredith to George, and so on. The box says that the game is a "new story" written in collaboration with the show's writers, and it feels like it, as the events and dialogue give the game a feeling of being a lost episode. There's plenty of the requisite flirting between McDreamy and Meredith, Bailey is worried about her kid while maintaining her Nazi reputation, the Chief is handling a crisis, the patients are charming and inadvertently offer good life advice to the doctors, and so on.
There aren't many genres that a Grey's Anatomy game could fit in. An adventure game is one, and it would be fascinating, but the genre that the game tackles is the Trauma Center-style of game where you get to step into the surgeons' shows and be the doctor that you were meant to be but weren't because you didn't have the grades for med school or the sight of real blood makes you queasy. Indeed, the procedures where you get to cut into someone's brain to cauterize bleeds or slice into them to replace their kidneys are easily the best part of the game. (Who knew that modern medicine used so many power tools?) Less fun are all the times you have to change dressings or check blood pressure; I'm a cutter, that's what nurses are for!
The issue is that these medical procedures make up a minority of the game. Instead, each scene, even if it doesn't feature a medical procedure, is packed with minigames that help you "choose" which dialogue path to pursue, or it's just a minigame for minigames sake. Does someone have doubts about something? Then there's a minigame that consists of literally "flicking away" their doubts, which consist of thought bubbles. Does a character need to change the subject of a conversation? Then there's a minigame that involves tearing apart a photograph, with the idea that you tear away the person you don't want to talk about. That's in addition to another minigame that involves unwrapping crumpled up pieces of paper to basically choose between two options.
But wait, there's more. There's a rhythm minigame where you have to tap objects as they enter a circle. There's a match-3 minigame where you have to pick three objects of the same type next to each other three times over. (You have to do this when you make a decision in the game; so much for a simple "yes" and "no.") There's a "chart-a-course" minigame where you have to arrange a set of arrows on a map of the hospital in order for the character to sprint to a destination, only that there are random red blobs moving around that you have to avoid, sort of like Pac-Mac. Heaven knows what the red blobs symbolize, by the way. It's just complete baffling.
And yes, there's even more. The game is jammed stuffed with these games, many of which seem completely silly or unnecessary. Worse, they destroy the pacing of the game, as each scene hits a minigame every few seconds at times. There's not even a point to failing a minigame, because you get five chances to beat each one, and if you fail five times you simply get to restart the entire scene from scratch. It's rare that you would fail five times, though; the only time I failed so utterly was when I was trying to use a medical device using the wrong end. (It seriously looked like it was supposed to work that way.)
Basically, this is a game that is best suited for the Wii, since the minigames are more challenging using the Wiimote as compared to the precision of a PC's mouse. The minigames are also pretty good on the DS, but the problem there is that the DS version lacks all of the animated cutscenes that bring each scene to life. There's also a lack of spoken dialogue on the DS, as it has to resort to dialogue bubbles instead. If you do have the PC and Wii versions, though, you'll be treated to some pretty good cell-shaded cutscenes. It's clear that a lot of time and effort was spent bringing Seattle Grace and its staff to life, though McDreamy does look a bit paunchy now and then.
Unfortunately, none of the show's stars provided their voices to the game, so professional voice actors were brought in to imitate them. Some of them are close, like whoever is voicing Meredith, but others just sound wrong. Also missing are some of the licensed music that makes Grey's Anatomy a great show to listen to; Psapp's Cosy in the Rocket is here in electronic instrumental form, but that's about it. It would have been nice to have a few songs, even from the official soundtracks.
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