|System: PC, MAC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: BBC Wales Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
If there's one thing I love more than video games, it's Doctor Who. I've literally been watching the show since I was five, and have cried over multiple regenerations of the iconic Doctor. If you've never watched Doctor Who, it has a simple premise. The basic plot revolves around an alien (from the "Time Lord" race) who has a space ship that can travel in time. This alien (known only as The Doctor) has taken a particular shine to planet Earth, spends his days protecting it from other nefarious alien races, and picks up human companions to impress. Though the concept is relatively simple, Doctor Who has the distinction of being the longest-running sci-fi show in history and is a cultural phenomenon both in the UK and the US.
Although the latest season of Doctor Who wrapped up in the US two weeks ago, the first two episodes of the Doctor Who Adventure Games have been released to give fans a bit of a respite from the pain of having to wait until Christmas for the next television episode. These episodes, City of the Daleks and Blood of the Cyberman, play out like two-hour long versions of episodes that could have been easily inserted into season five. Both episodes are penned by writer Phil Ford (best known for the Doctor Who special The Waters of Mars) and capture the feel of this past season.
The first episode, City of Daleks, sees the Doctor and Amy Pond visiting 1964 London. After a few quips about musical acts in London (and whether John Lennon is more exciting than Ringo Starr), the Doctor and Amy leave the TARDIS and discover that London has been completely destroyed and occupied by the nefarious Daleks. In order to find out how the Daleks could achieve this, the Doctor and Amy visit the Daleks' home planet of Skaro to find out what power the Daleks are using to rewrite history.
The gameplay in episode one is basic and involves a lot of running and hiding from Daleks. I found the game was most enjoyable when thought of as an interactive episode instead of a pure video game. There is quite a focus on story, and you can expect to see a cutscene at least every five or six minutes. As a Doctor Who fan, I found this to be enjoyable, but I can see how this might put off some gamers. Still, there is a lot of fun to be had, and you'll be able to solve puzzles and do a lot of snake-like sneaking around, both on Earth and on Skaro. Actually, there were quite a few empty crates you could hide behind, so I'm wondering if someone at Sumo Digital was a Metal Gear Fan.
But even though City of Daleks emphasis on stealth plays a lot like the Metal Gear series, Blood of the Cybermen is more action-oriented. This game takes place in the present day, and begins like Alien vs. Predator, with a bad discovery in the Arctic Circle. The TARDIS receives an SOS call, and when they go to figure out who sent it, they find a man so terrified that he won't even tell them where he is from (or what he is so scared of). But of course, as the name indicates, the Cybermen are behind this man's fear, and have overtaken the scientific base where he was working. By the time the Doctor and Amy get to the base, there is only one survivor left.
I found the plot of the first episode to be more compelling than the second episode, but I found the gameplay in the second episode to be more satisfying. There was more action in the second half, and while you never directly engage the Cybermen (the Doctor has a reputation for pacifism), you are able to interact with more elements and can use devices around you to damage and destroy the Cybermen (though you generally play as Amy for these parts.).