Saturday, 26 June 2010

Doctor Who - Blood of the Cybermen

The second Doctor Who Adventure Game is here. Go grab if you want to play along at home or skip to the story section of this piece if you're lazy (or don't own a PC) and just want to know what happens.

I found the first game to be a disappointment, both technically and storywise so I was hoping that the second game would be an improvement. Is it?

Yes, albeit only a slight improvement.


The corridors. The endless corridors. With an occasional small outside bit. Yes, the level design once again is rather limited. You will spend most of your time running and sneaking down endless corridors avoiding enemies and looking for collectibles and puzzles to solve. The stealth portions of the game are just as aggravating and tedious as in the first instalment and require split second timing in some sections. In fact I'm not sure that casual gamers or the very young are going to be able to progress past some parts of the game without help from a savvy gaming veteran.

The minigames are not quite as odious this time. Gone is the stupid hold-an-icon-steady-around-a-bit-of-wire game from the Dalek adventure, this time it is replaced with a match rotating coloured balls affair which is much less frustrating.

There is a strange platform crossing section early in the game which is bloody terrible. The Doctor has to cross moving blocks of ice and if his efforts are slightly mistimed he falls to his death. Unfortunately the Doctor's movement is not the most precise and he tends to stumble around and slide off the ice to his doom. Granted, the 11th Doctor is a somewhat clumsy and inelegant creature but when you apply this to an insta-death platforming section, it does not lead to fun times. It's like controlling a dodgem car greased with butter. On ice.

Once again the voice acting is dull and undersold in places. I think it may be a problem with the direction as Matt Smith and Karen Gillen seem to be struggling with the correct range that voice acting requires. Perhaps a few more takes would have done the trick? For all I know, the lines were recorded between episodes which would explain the tiredness in the principal actors' performances.

The collectibles are back and I found several flavours of jelly baby. The collectibles are still entirely unnecessary but fun if you like looking at unused publicity photos of characters and monsters.


Again, I will start this section with a question - did you enjoy Tomb of the Cybermen? Do you think it would be better mashed up with The Tenth Planet and every space based Troughton cyberman story? You'd be (un)surprised to find that the result is not particularly satisfying.

The Doctor receives a distress beacon and lands the TARDIS in the Arctic. The Doctor rescues an archaeologist/engineer named Chisholm from an ice cave and discovers that Chisholm was attempting to flee his own Arctic survey team.

Amy helps by moaning. Amy is still dressed in a mini skirt and at no point changes into something warmer. Instead she spends her time complaining and generally showing up Classic Who companions Tegan and Peri in the whingeing stakes. It seems that Phil Ford is struggling to write dialogue for Amy that makes her a sassy and feisty companion without making her a bit of an irritating berk. And is it too much to ask the developers to give Amy Pond different outfits for each game?

The Doctor decides to investigate the digsite that Chisholm has fled from, despite Chisholm frantic pleading not to return him there. Upon arrival Chisholm is immediately attacked by a Cybermat. A Cybermat! Yes, it's the return of the silly metal rat things from the 60s. Amy makes an incredibly lame mousemat joke at this point. I sigh and want to slap Phil Ford for that one. This time the Cybermats have a poison bite that infects you with a nano virus that turns you into a Cyberslave. Poor Chisholm immediately runs off and isolates himself in a locked room to save the Doctor and Amy from being infected or attacked by him.

Unfortunately for the Doctor and Amy they soon discover what a Cyberslave is when they open the main complex door and are attacked by a Cyberman in a jumpsuit. Seems a Cyberslave gets partially converted via the magic of nanites. Amy disables the Cyberslave by venting some steam at it. Yeah, I don't know how that really works either.

Inside the research complex, the Doctor finds a professor who is attempting to develop a cure for Cyberslave-itis. The Doctor cheerfully informs her that it won't work until he gets a pure sample of nano-wotsits from a Cyberslave. The Doctor rigs up an EMP device to disable a nest of Cybermats and then Amy disables a Cyberman with a loose electric cable. Armed with the necessary components, the Doctor creates a cure by playing a quick minigame. The professor has vanished though...

The Doctor uses the cure on Chisholm (who has now become a messy fusion of Cyberman and human - a makeup effect that I would have liked to have seen on the TV for real) before heading to the digsite to locate the cybership lying beneath the ice.

It's at this point I get confused about the current incarnation of Cybermen. It seems they've been blended with original versions to once again become a spacefaring, time travelling race. They are now much more advanced than their humble beginnings in series two of New Who. It's a little confusing really and I wonder if their weakness to gold or the repeated shouting of "excellent!" is going to make a comeback next.

The Doctor spends a lot of time pressing buttons on lifts and avoiding Cybermen until he eventually reaches the control centre of the ship. It's at this point we find out that the professor was a Cyberslave all along. GASP. It was a trap laid for the Doctor to find the ship so he could finish waking up the Cybermen, because apparently the Cyber Leader couldn't figure this out for himself. The professor aimed the distress call at the TARDIS to lure him all the way to the ship. This doesn't explain why she was working on a cure for the Cyberslave condition or why the Cyberslaves and Cybermen were attempting to kill the Doctor if they needed him to free them. THIS MAKES MY HEAD HURT.

The Doctor manages to escape the clutches of the Cybermen and save Amy from cyber conversion. Chisholm makes an heroic comeback and destroys the Cyber Leader and then the Doctor sets the ship to self destruct and everyone makes a last second escape. Hurrah. The Doctor and Amy depart leaving Chisholm to explain to a rescue party exactly what went on...

Apart from the dumb plot twist toward the end, this was a solid enough story. It's nothing we haven't seen done before with the Cybermen and I don't think reintroducing the Cybermats is anything other than Classic Who fan service. Still, this game was more enjoyable than City of the Daleks and hopefully the games will continue to improve.

Now if only we could have a clever plot and a wander around the TARIDS next time...

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