Monday, 17 January 2011

Doctor Who - Shadows of the Vashta Nerada

Another Doctor Who adventure game has arrived. I've played it and I have my usual spattering of opinions so download it here. 

Feel free to play along or just read my recap if you want to know what happens.

What the hell have they done to Santa's nose?

The Game

Oh god. I really thought the games were improving but I was wrong. The previous episode, TARDIS, was short and very limited in scope but at least it didn't contain stealth sections. The dreaded stealth returns in this episode along with numerous corridors. The endless bloody corridors. Corridors you'll have to run along a lot. Just like part three or four of a six part Pertwee or Baker story when the writer really needs to pad the running time. Shadows plunges you straight into some really tedious corridor running and doesn't stop from beginning to end. This game is all about running along metal walkways and entering codes into doors. It's boring, it's terrible and I'm pretty sure most kids will hate it.

The puzzles are very easy in comparison to previous episodes (the 'hold-your-hand-steady-or-lose-all-your-progress' game is thankfully absent) but they are dull. The first set of puzzles involves memorising a keypad PIN number, which is pretty tedious once but is hellish when you have to perform this half a dozen times in a row. In between the keypad puzzles is a jog through endless corridors. Corridors. Corridors with a bit of sea outside. Corridors. Bloody corridors.

The corridors become even more nightmarish when combined with insta-death sections. Have you played Gears of War? Do you remember the level with the shadowy bat things that could kill you instantly if you stood in a dark patch for too long? Well they put that level in this game and it's even less fun. Thematically it matches the monsters involved but it's infuriating as hell. The first time it happened my computer lost the will to live and crashed to a blue screen. This was a relief.

Later on there's a couple of the obligatory stealth sections where you have to lure a monster into another part of the level so you can kill it with a button press. This was done in the first two games and it's still terrible. I understand that it's an attempt to replicate the clever methods in which the Doctor usually disposes of monsters but I wish the designers had come up with variations on the theme rather than the obvious re-use of the same situations and set pieces as previous episodes.

Finally, the plot is the very worst of base-under-siege stories from the Doctor Who annual of alien invasions. It's quite simply uninspired, it doesn't offer anything that hasn't already been done with the formula and it's dull. Even the characters seem to react with bored acceptance when one of their number is killed off (in an unintentionally funny cutscene). Also, nothing is made of the Christmas setting other than some dialogue at the beginning and end.

In short - No sir, I didn't like it.

These guys can be killed by a 100W lightbulb. Pfft.

The Story

Continuing from the previous episode, TARDIS, the Doctor has brought Amy to far future London, which is now underwater and under attack from a giant armoured shark. The shark attempts to destroy the corridors so the Doctor and Amy flee deeper into the complex where they eventually meet a hapless piece of monster fodder. It's not really worth noting his name as he soon dies during a cutscene when the Vashta Nerada eat him while the lights are off.

Yes the shadowy piranhas are back. I'm not quite sure how they reached the sealed environment of London or how they can live underwater though (aren't they forest dwelling creatures?). Still, familiar baddies with easily modeled character designs are back!

The Doctor is trapped in a Troughton style story as the underwater base is under siege by aliens and he has to deal with a vaguely defined plague (which doesn't seem to have any symptoms or ill effects on anyone). He also has to deal with a computer straight out of a 1960s special effect budget (complete with wonky computer voice and crap design).

The Doctor offers to help and restore power to the lights in the complex. He does this by running down corridors and pressing switches. It's all very exciting. Only it's not because he runs down the same corridors he ran down earlier only this time if he steps into the dark he will die. ONLY THIS IS BULLCRAP BECAUSE IMMEDIATELY AFTER AVOIDING THE DARK PATCHES OF DOOM, THE DOCTOR ENTERS A CUTSCENE SET IN A TOTALLY PITCH BLACK ROOM AND ISN'T INSTANTLY KILLED LIKE HE WOULD HAVE BEEN EARLIER. Ahem.

The Doctor restores the power after much heroic button clicking, logic puzzle solving and skeletons in diving suits avoiding. Amy helps a bit by being sent off on her own to do something incredibly dangerous while the Doctor presumably eats a jammie dodger and stares at a circuit board.

The Doctor heads back to the humans and formulates a cure for the plague that still doesn't seem to be hurting anyone. This involves running down corridors and entering keycodes. It is great fun. The Doctor finds some collectibles but sighs at the futility of a collection of things that can't be accessed outside of the game.

The humans are cured of whatever plague they had and one of them repays the Doctor by threatening him and tying him up. The Doctor leaves the humans (who are going to use the lifepods to escape but then inexplicably don't use them while the Doctor is cocking about elsewhere) and heads over to the wreckage of that ship that was in that movie, The Philadelphia Experiment.

The Doctor explores the wreckage and eventually seals the rift by running along some corridors and avoiding instant deathtraps. The surviving humans (all two of them) apologise for misbehaving and offer the Doctor and Amy a Christmas dinner of sea pumpkins. The Doctor and Amy leg it.


If you'd like to know what the other episodes in the series are like then please head over to:

Episode One: City of the Daleks
Episode Two: Blood of the Cybermen
Episode Three: TARDIS

1 comment:

Fisforfresh said...

Your blog is both informative and funny! The doctor who post was awesome reading keep up the good work