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Published on July 3rd, 2010 | by Paul Cavanagh

Doctor Who – The Adventure Games: Blood of the Cybermen

This is proved again when The Thing is thrown into the dialogue with as much subtlety as a flying breeze block – it’s not cool, in fact it comes across as a bit desperate. The script is also unimaginative in the extreme. This game is lacking in surprises – so it would be remiss of me to spoil it here, but when you find out what is going on, you’ll see that it’s lacking in any kind of originality, and resembles fan fic of the pre-adolescent variety. These games are being presented to us as being firmly part of the current (or just finished) series of Doctor Who, but I can’t imagine that storytelling as poor as this would ever have made it to our screens. It’s a bit odd that a writer of Phil’s experience could produce such a stilted effort, but I guess it could be to do with writing for a game, where the writer is essentially scripting links for gaming sections.

So, onto gameplay. Notwithstanding my compatibility problems, I did make the effort to complete the game, so how does it stack up? Again, the answer is not well. We start off with a simple puzzle concerning how to revive somebody who’s been knocked out (his name’s Mister Chisholm, but unfortunately there’s no sign of Arthur or Terry), and the answers to the puzzle are exceedingly well signposted. There’s a balance to be struck here – you want kids to be able to progress through the game, but you don’t want it to be too unchallenging. Unfortunately the game plumps for straightforward ease, which is a mistake.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games - Blood of the Cybermen

A little further on, and we’re presented by a path blocked by ice blocks. Stroll up to the block and click, and hey presto – the Doctor slides it to where it needs to go. Why not have the player figure out the best place to push the block to? It wouldn’t slow the game down too much, but would allow the player some sense of achievement, and more to the point, involvement. Another problem with the puzzles is an age-old one, that has afflicted point and click (or even text-based) adventure games for as long as they’ve been around. What happens if I try and zap this computer with the Sonic? Oh, the Doctor tells me it’s not a good idea. Why not? Seems like a plan to me! Why not have the Doctor try and do what we want, have it go wrong, and then tell me it was a bad idea?

Innovative play is not in any way rewarded, and this is reinforced at one point where the Doctor point-blank refuses to open a locker, forcing Amy to run outside in the cold, in her mini-skirt, to find the code. Oh, by the way, the TARDIS keeps Amy warm when she can’t be bothered to find a warm coat. Bet you never knew that before, did you? More puzzles crop up later in the game, and some are mildly diverting, but none really challenging or habit-forming.

Now you might fairly say to me “Now just you hang on a second you grumpy old sod, these games are free! How can you sit there slagging off something that Aunty Beeb has given us for nuffink, and gratis and all?” But, I don’t care. I really don’t.

Yes it’s free, yes it looks and sounds great. But let’s be straight about this. Doctor Who is the best television program on TV, and it therefore makes sense that a good Doctor Who game could be truly, truly great. I want to see that game, I want to play it, and I want the gaming world to be drawn towards the wonder of Who.

We’re told more of these games are on the way. That’s great. But please, please – sort out the glitches, get the scripts right and inject a bit of passion and fun into the games. And then I’ll happily eat my fez.


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7 Responses to Doctor Who – The Adventure Games: Blood of the Cybermen

  1. avatar Carn says:

    Quite enjoyed it myself. Yeah it needs more optimization but I quite happily ran it on my laptop smooth enough when I turned the details down a smidge.

    I have to say I enjoyed this a lot more than the two games I paid £40 a piece for recently (the grossly overrated boring glitchy horse-riding sim Red Dead Redemption and the tedious, badly designed and just plain ugly Transformers: War For Cybertron). No this ain’t a great game and it’s more aimed at casual gamers than ‘hardcore’ but it kept me entertained enough throughout and I’m looking forward to the next.

  2. avatar Bow Ties Are Cool says:

    I agree with Carn, I enjoyed this one much more than City of the Daleks. Now that was a crappy, written-in-five-minutes script. ‘The Eye of Time’? Seriously, Phil? Come on mate, you co-wrote Waters of Mars! You’re better than that.

    Also, Carn, I must say I agree with you about Red Dead too. Was very excited, considering the reviews, and very disappointed to find I’d bought the single most booooooooring game ever.

    Good thing I had the Ghostbusters game to pop in and play for like the billionth time! On a Saturday Night. Then come onto the internet and moan about a free Doctor Who game. Wow, have I always been this lame?

    Eh, I’m ok with it. :)

  3. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    Just so people don’t think less of this Christian over this review – blame me, I wrote it! That Cawley fellah, trying to steal my thunder… ;-)

    It could be said I’ve been a bit harsh, and maybe I have. If I’d looked at this game as an example of free-to-download games on the internet, then I’d be a lot more positive. However, it seems I may be a victim of the hype. All that stuff about the Adventure Games constituting proper Doctor Who episodes led me to review the game with those ideas in mind. It’s official, it’s (arguably) canon, it’s being heavily promoted alongside the main show. So it needs to be good.

  4. Sorry about that chaps – yes Paul is the true writer of this piece.

    I’m just the guy who can’t use a drop down menu labelled “author”…

  5. avatar bluebox444 says:

    I liked the setting and the basic concept (and, in a fanboyish way, the return of the Cybermats), but the plot was so formulaic. Evil menace resurrected, base under siege, Doctor and companion blunder in, putter around, big explosion, menace thwarted, cue ominous “we’ll be back” moment. “City of the Daleks” wasn’t perfect (they could at least have called the Eye of Harmony by its proper name), but it had a lot more plot twists and variety. Still, it was kind of fun to play.

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