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House M.D.: Critical Cases
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House M.D.: Critical Cases

Release Date:  04/13/2012
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Developer:  Ubisoft
Genre:  Facebook, Simulation
Sponsor:

Developed by Ubisoft, House M.D.: Critical Cases, is a simulation Facebook game based on hit medical drama House M.D., where players work as an intern of Dr. Gregory House’s diagnosis team to solve mysterious diseases and run Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.

Review:

House M.D.: Critical Cases starts with a young student couple hugging and cuddling each other when the boy all of a sudden suffered a stroke and passed out. Very TV show pre-credit style, right? With the patient being rushed into the emergency room, we get the first look of Facebook’s Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, where you join Dr. Gregory House’s diagnostic team as an intern. Your working environment looks like the Theme Hospital at first glance, with its isometric perspective of the hospital, vast locked ward space and the wandering patients and staff. But as you dig into tutorial Critical Case 1, the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the diagnosis progress reveals. After Dr. House’s eccentric welcome speech “Weclome to the Purgatory”, you get to dress yourself comfortably and then we move to the deliberations with Chase, Foreman, Taub and Thirteen to diagnose the young patient.

The diagnosis progress, integrated with various kinds of mini-games, is a loyal restoration of the TV scene, everybody sitting in front of the whiteboard with a list of possible causes of disease on it. After a pile of obscure medical terms, House sends Thirteen and you to wade through the patient’s messed-up dorm room to look for clues of potential cause of disease. Here comes the first mini-game, hidden object game, requiring you to find a list of items among which is the key to the diagnosis. Other mini-games included Blood analysis test being portrayed as match-making game, injection as a shooting game, stitch as drawing etc.

Brilliant and unconventional as he is, House is required to attend to walk-in clinic. So are you. Treating outpatients earns you EXP, items, Favor and Budget, keys to unlock more Critical Cases and expand and decorate the hospital. There are altogether 12 Critical Cases, each featuring complicated ailments, unconventional even controversial medical procedures, misdiagnosis and unexpected results, just like a House episode.

The game grips not only the essence of the TV show but the characteristics of the titular character. Even the Achievements are customized to House style. “Everybody dies” for performing first resuscitation, for example, comes from House’s catch phrase “Everybody lies”. However, little innovation is spotted in friend interaction. You are asked to play a hidden object game to help your colleague with the case they’re working on. This is a bit time and Budget consuming (50 Budgets for one Hint) if you have quite a few colleagues at bottom of the screen.

Much as I love Dr. House and his Ducklings, I am not very optimistic about how House MD Game will go, given that Ubisoft’s previous big-time TV show adaption CSI: Crime City failed to live up to its name on the small screen. The biggest problem of show based game is that TV viewer base doesn’t exactly overlap with gamer base. The developer sometimes dwells too much on reproducing classic TV scenes, that the gameplay could be awkward and those who are not that familiar with the show and characters might feel rejected. Disease Database, the records of the rare disease you have run into, is something I might find favorable, but with tons of super geek terms like “adrenoleukodystrophy”, “supraventricular tachycardia” and “catatonic schizophrenia” in it, I doubt anyone would read them one by one from top to bottom, except for maybe medical students?

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