Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Game for Adventure

This weekend just gone saw the release of the first of the BBC’s interactive Dr Who adventure games. Well at least, it did if you were in Britain and owned a PC. The Beeb, in their infinite wisdom, have region-locked the game in order to charge those overseas for the pleasure of perusing it. Fair enough, as I’m sure it will have cost them many shiny quatloobs to produce, but they could have at least gone for a simultaneous release world-wide so our Colonial cousins weren’t chomping and frothing about the sheer injustice of being on the wrong side of the Puddle. Again.

But what will you be getting for your money as and when they finally let it go Stateside? Not a bad little game actually. The graphics are a bit wobbly in places and some of the animation is a little basic, but the backgrounds are rather nicely rendered. They’ve really captured Matt Smith’s ambling gait, leading me to suspect that he’s not actually a Labrador puppy in a skin-suit after all, but a computer sprite on the run from Reboot.

There’s lots of creeping about (sadly, no cardboard boxes for the Metal Gear Solid fans) and some devilish little hand-eye co-ordination puzzle games to complete. These wouldn’t have been so bad if the game wasn’t doing its best impression of Second Life on a Saturday night. In fact, trying to do the last two climactic encounters whilst wading through computer treacle was a tad frustrating after a while. If it hadn’t been for the lagtacularness of the final stages on our poor little laptop, it probably would have taken about the time of a TV special to complete, without the regret and time you’ll never get back feeling usually associated with, say, an RTD gap-year episode.

You’ll find no spoilers here, but there are some immensely important continuity points brought up during the game, which made us at Chez Pixie make happy “Ooo” noises (though why they’ve felt the need to change the name of one thing, we’re not quite sure). And thanks to the way the game is written, everything’s sorted out in time for tea with no harm done. Once again, as so often during the current TV series, the continuity nods will please old fans without confusing or alienating the new ones.

The voice talent do a decent job, although neither Matt Smith nor Karen Gillan seems to be quite cut out for voice-over work. Maybe its their lack of experience; only time will tell on that one. The sheer physicality that Matt Smith brings to the role is understandably missing and its quite odd how flattened his portrayal feels without all those little far from tawdry quirks. Not that he gives a bad performance here, far from it, but it’s just not quite the same.

And that’s really the point here; it’s a fun game featuring the Doctor and Amy and it’s an entertaining little diversion, but in the end it’s not as satisfying as a TV episode. Well, the good ones, anyway.

Next time we get to go head to head with the Cybermen. Wonder if they’ll get round to sorting out the whole Mondas/Cybus Industries thing…


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