With the original PC release of Surgeon Simulator you used the mouse and keyboard to control the game with the former for movement and five buttons on the latter for each of the fingers. It was a system which worked quite well, bringing finesse to a complicated task, and allowing you to feel the real pressures of being a surgeon in a frankly hilarious and nonsensical game, where it wasn’t really about doing everything by the books.
The game eventually migrated to iPad, which allowed for even more fine-tuned controls leading to eye transplants and dentistry, and those have made their way over to the PS4 version of the game, which also brings a few new control options to the fore.
At its core, Surgeon Simulator Anniversary Edition is still very much the same game. It’s not the same game as when it originally launched on PC, as there are now various kinds of surgery and settings such as in the back of an ambulance, which have been implemented as the original version has evolved since launch. And it looks as though it’ll be the same for the PS4 version, as they bring an all-new exclusive co-operative mode to the game later this month, but we’ll have more on that once it has launched.
That gameplay essentially involves grabbing various utensils – including knives, hammers, syringes, saws, and much more – and hacking away at your victim’s body, replacing a part or two via transplant. The game does not care for doing things precisely: rib cages, intestines and more can be simply disposed of, and the only real requirement is that you get the transplanted organ in the right place.
The biggest difference in the PS4 version comes with the controls. With the DualShock 4, there’s the standard controls which you’d expect, using the left stick to move the arm across the desk and the right stick to alter the hand movements, with the triggers controlling the grabs. This actually works quite well, as R1 grabs with thumb and forefinger while there’s a clever use of the digital R2 pad to grab with other fingers.
Now, Surgeon Simulator seems like the perfect game to dust off those PlayStation Move controllers, but unfortunately there’s no support for Sony’s almost-forgotten motion controllers. Thankfully, the DS4 picks up the slack with some great motion tracking and pretty much 1:1 movement when you combine that with the use of the triggers.
The PS Camera will track exactly where your hand is in front of you – left, right, forwards, backwards as well as up and down – and bring this into the game thanks to that handy lightbar on the controller. Beyond that, twisting your wrist or angling your hand will also allow for precise movements. This is perhaps not what you’d want out of Surgeon Simulator as it’s perhaps too precise, removing from how enjoyably frustrating the game can be.
But it works brilliantly to bring you right into the game world, achieving immersion very quickly, and it all works much better than you’d expect. Unfortunately, holding a DS4 in one hand isn’t as ergonomic as a Move controller and after a while it becomes rather uncomfortable and almost heavy on one side. Though perhaps the DS4 is better for tracking, and it’s certainly constrained to the correct axis rather than allowing for free flowing movement.
Ultimately, this is a reminder of Sony’s – and third party developers’ – lacking support for additional peripherals, but also a real case for showing off the DualShock 4. It seems to be a similar situation for other titles, such as the recently released Hohokum, which could use the Move controller for brilliant effect. But with the DualShock 4’s motion capabilities, do we really need our oddly shaped, glowing sticks?