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 â€“ itâ€™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 â€“ so it would be remiss of me to spoil it here, but when you find out what is going on, youâ€™ll see that itâ€™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 canâ€™t imagine that storytelling as poor as this would ever have made it to our screens. Itâ€™s a bit odd that a writer of Philâ€™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 whoâ€™s been knocked out (his nameâ€™s Mister Chisholm, but unfortunately thereâ€™s no sign of Arthur or Terry), and the answers to the puzzle are exceedingly well signposted. Thereâ€™s a balance to be struck here â€“ you want kids to be able to progress through the game, but you donâ€™t want it to be too unchallenging. Unfortunately the game plumps for straightforward ease, which is a mistake.
A little further on, and weâ€™re presented by a path blocked by ice blocks. Stroll up to the block and click, and hey presto â€“ 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 wouldnâ€™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 theyâ€™ve been around. What happens if I try and zap this computer with the Sonic? Oh, the Doctor tells me itâ€™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 canâ€™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 â€œNow 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?â€Â But, I donâ€™t care. I really donâ€™t.
Yes itâ€™s free, yes it looks and sounds great. But letâ€™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.
Weâ€™re told more of these games are on the way. Thatâ€™s great. But please, please â€“ sort out the glitches, get the scripts right and inject a bit of passion and fun into the games. And then Iâ€™ll happily eat my fez.