Many computer games are about saving people, but most of them have you slaughtering armies single-handed to save the woman or whoever. Well, things have changed a little now. Mindscape gives the chance to play doctors and nurses from the comfort of your own operating theatre... er, I mean the comfort of your own home. No more mowing down hundreds of men with a machine gun - now it is up to you to cure people of various ailments from kidney stones to full-blown arthritis.
You are a trainee doctor who is learning the profession in the newly opened Toolworks General Hospital. (Now you can tell its is only a game - whoever heard of a hospital opening lately?). The authorities have decided that the best way for you to learn is by hands-on experience. Yep, it's in the deep end for you.
On entering the hospital the first thing you have to do is sign in so the hospital knows who exactly is doing the damage to its reputation. From here on in, the innocent patients are at your mercy as you attempt to show just how good a doctor you are.
The receptionist tells you where your next patient is so that you don't keep them hanging around too long - after all, some of them don't have too long to hang around. On entering patients' rooms you see them lying in bed looking all sorry for themselves.
The first thing you have to do is look at the clipboard at the bottom of the bed to see what the patient is complaining of. From the clipboard you can order any test to be done, refer the patient to a specialist or you can decide to operate yourself.
Before you complete your diagnosis, however, you must physically examine your patient. This entails prodding them in the stomach to see whether it hurts or not. Correct diagnosis is essential if you want to further your career. After all, giving someone open heart surgery for indigestion is not exactly what you would call good doctoring is it?
If your diagnosis leads to surgery you had better prepare yourself for some of the most complex gameplay you are ever likely to see. You see, surgery is not just a case of opening your patient up with a quick slash of a scalpel, ripping out the problem and then a quick stitch to finish up.
First up you have to select the right surgical team. Some team members won't work well with certain others, so you have to get the balancing act just right. Then you have to prepare yourself, although this involves nothing more than making sure you are wearing gloves.
The fun starts as you prep the patient. The first time you operate I can guarantee that the patient will be dead in under a minute. There is so much to do to ensure longevity that you just won't think about some of what you have to do. Remember you have to anaesthetise your patient, sterilise the work area, inject certain drugs, the list just goes on and on.
The scene is just as gruesome and bloody as the real thing. In one of my ops there was so much blood all over the place I couldn't see what I was supposed to be cutting and this lead to the inevitable result - death for the patient. In fact, until you get the hang of all the aspects of the game you will probably end up killing lots of people. Fortunately, the game doesn't end when you kill someone, you just get a reprimand from the head surgeon.
For those who prefer to learn as they play there is a classroom you will be called to after each treatment to learn where you went wrong and what to do in the future. Other doctors will page you from time to time to offer advice and information on the patients and their conditions but it is down to you to decide what to do and when.
Life and Death has been a long time coming - it has been on the cards for over a year now. Already a sequel, subtitled The Brain, has been released on the PC which promotes you to the role of a brain surgeon. Sounds gross!
Anyway Life and Death is a very nice looking game. Gross but nice. To sum up, it may be a little repetitive if you keep getting your diagnoses wrong, but that should act as an incentive to do better.