This one's for Dr. Who fans who also happen to be PS3 users. Unfortunately, with the exception of the visuals, this one's rather mediocre, although it might provide you with a quick fix until some new episodes hit our TV screens later in the year. Play are parting with copies of the game for £14.99, which should make you a saving of just over £4 on the next best offers out there.
Platforms: PC & Mac
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: BBC Wales Interactive
As soon as I finished watching the trailer for this last instalment of the current Adventure Games series, I knew that I needed to download it immediately because lets face the combination of a giant shark, an underwater city, and of course one of the best and scariest Dr. Who baddies of the David Tennant years, the Vashta Nerada, seemed at the time to be a winning formula. Unfortunately, the game itself was somewhat of a disappointment and caused the Adventure Games to leave us with a somewhat sour taste in our mouths.
The game starts with the Doctor and Amy leaving the TARDIS to find themselves in some sort of underwater base and just when they thought it was safe to go back into the water, a giant shark like creature begins to attack the glass corridors that they're travelling through. Eventually they make it to the heart of the base only to discover that the base's crew are suffering from some kind of sickness and no sooner than this is revealed, the lights flicker off and then back on, only for the group to discover that one of them has been devoured by the Vashta Nerada. Then begins the inevitable investigation as the Doctor attempts to find out just what's going on so that he can save everybody in the base.
Whilst this episode is probably the longest of the first series, the gameplay drags on in places mostly due to the predictable puzzles that you have to solve, which seem to pop up again and again and again, and just when you thought you'd got past the last one, bam, another one jumps into your path.
Initially the giant shark, or Razor Tooth Blade Fin to give it its official name, seems to be a formidable foe that creates panic in its wake, seeing as it seems to be able to bring the ocean crashing around you. However, once you realise that all you have to do is run to the door at the end of the section of tunnel you're in and zap the lock with the sonic screwdriver to escape, you quickly come to the conclusion that it's no real threat to you at all, in fact on most of its subsequent attacks I found myself thinking "Oh, it's you again is it! Well this shouldn't be much of a problem!"
Seeing as the Vashta Nerada that we've seen so far in the TV show were utterly relentless, not to mention merciless in their hunt for fresh meat, it's a shame that their presence didn't generate more fear. In fact, just like the Daleks and the Cybermen in episodes one and two, they posed little to no threat whatsoever; they were more of a mild inconvenience than anything else and were easily defeated by being led into a trap that even a kindergartener could have avoided, or jumping into a moving light stream and calmly waiting for it to cut through the shadows whilst whistling and starring at your watch.
The affection between Amy and the Doctor that can be seen in the TV series and which I said was starting to bleed into the Adventure Games in the previous episode, seems to once again have disappeared, which is a real shame because it seems like a bit of a step backwards in my opinion.
Basically, this episode left me fairly disappointed because it had the potential to be a real corker of a story that should have had a really tense, horror film like quality to it, but instead it fell down due to its repetitive gameplay and poor use of a fantastic, hostile, and lets not forget terrifying species in the form of the Vashta Nerada. Having said all that, being a devout Doctor Who fan, I'll still be checking the site on a regular basis to find out when the first episode of the second series of the Adventure Games is due to grace our screens, and I'm hoping that there'll be a number of improvements to the gameplay when the new series finally does arrive.
The Short Version: Whilst Shadows Of The Vashta Nerada will probably leave you disappointed, it's not terrible, there's just room for a lot of improvement, which hopefully'll be made by the time series two is with us.
The Tokyo Game Show is now over and several very promising titles have been announced including a new Devil May Cry, several Kinect games from Legendary developers and From Software's Project Dark. However, the ghost at the feast was Keiji Inafune, Capcom's head of R&D. He's convinced that Japanese gaming is at it's worst position in years and is headed for a bigger slump, trailing Western studios by five years.
“I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone’s making awful games; Japan is at least five years behind. Capcom is barely keeping up. I want to study how Westerners live, and make games that appeal to them.” - Keiji Inafune, head of global research and development at Capcom
These comments come in the wake of dismal annual Capcom profits- as well as some weak sales figures across the board. Since most of the biggest global hits now hail from the likes of EA and Activision, there's no doubt that several Japanese studios need to shake up their development routines and dig themselves out of the rut... but maybe Inafune ought to mind his manners until the Dead Rising 2 sales figures come in. [New York Times]
Sumo Digital's free-to-download Dr. Who adventures turned out to be a real hit, resulting in 1.6 million downloads and some half decent reviews from us. Matt Smith and Karen Gillen will return to provide their faces and voices to the project, and Steven Moffat will reprise his role as producer.
The last episode of the first series will be released by the end of the year, and I'm sure we'll have a review for you when it does.
We've featured a few deals from Good Old Games over the last few months thanks to their DRM free re-releases of classic titles... but according to their front page, they're not just out of beta. They're out of business. Apparently, members who are waiting to download their purchased games will be presented with a solution on Wednesday.
However, a Polish business forum contains a mysterious missive from GOG's co-founder (via ShackNews). Michał Kiciński mentions a press conference dated for this Wednesday with a suspicious translated message: "Information about this soon on GOG.com (please do not panic after reading the information contained there:)"... which suggests that this whole thing may well be a publicity stunt to launch their next venture. As much as we like them, we hope that they weren't willing to deny their members to their games collections over a weak bit of publicity. We'll keep an eye on the situation.
Platforms: PC & Mac
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: BBC Wales Interactive
The latest instalment of the Adventure Games series sees The Doctor and Amy travelling to the Arctic, where they stumble across the survivors of a geological survey team, who have found something preserved in the ice that's now slowly coming back to life and attacking anything that gets in their way. Naturally, this grabs The Doctor's attention and he characteristically promises to solve the mystery and save as many people as he can whilst doing so, but little does he know that what's sitting frozen beneath his feet is an entire army belonging to one of his oldest enemies.
I vastly preferred the story behind Blood of the Cybermen compared to that of City of the Daleks, despite the fact that it seemed like the writer had just smashed the plots of The Thing and Tomb of the Cybermen together and hoped for the best. Luckily, the merging works incredibly well and has all the elements of a great Dr. Who story. Once again there are numerous pop culture references and my favourite was the nod to the third Doctor's demise, which you'll only really pick up on if you're a massive Dr. Who fan. Unfortunately, Amy and The Doctor's personalities aren't even close to what we've seen on TV, which is incredibly odd and just doesn't seem right now that we've started to get accustomed to them acting in a certain way.
Initially the puzzles in this episode appear to be a tiny bit disappointing, especially the first one you face involving the quick reprogramming of a Sat Nav, as it appears to be exactly the same as those seen in the first episode. Luckily after the first puzzle, the others take on a completely different format, which at least goes a little way into making you think that The Doctor's enemies don't all use the same technology. The platforming aspects to the game are much better in this episode and you'll come across numerous obstacles, which you'll have to work your way around. Also, the layout of the levels is far more varied this time around and personally I thought they were a little more interesting.
As downloads of the first Doctor Who pass half a million, Tom takes a look at the freebie and ask if it's actually any good.
Platforms: PC & Mac
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: BBC Wales Interactive
Since the series reboot in 2005, the BBC's Dr. Who website has had an entire section devoted to games, but up until now they've been small mini games with graphics that'd be right at home if you travelled back in time a few years in the TARDIS. Luckily, The Adventure Games have come along and changed all that and the best thing is they're completely free to download for both PC and Mac.
In total we'll be getting four episodes in The Adventure Games series this year and they're being hailed as extensions to the current series of the TV show, and I've got to say if City of the Daleks is anything to go by then they fit the format rather nicely. You start off with The Doctor (Matt Smith) taking Amy (Karen Gillan) to an exotic location in time and space, only to discover something isn't quite as it seems and you need to put things right before the credits start rolling. Throw in a bit of time travel and an arch-enemy or two and bang you've got yourself a situation you'll need your sonic screwdriver for. There's only really one more thing I can say to get this review going: GERONIMO!
City of the Daleks drops our favourite Time Lord and his faithful companion straight into 1963, only it's not quite as we know it. The Daleks have exterminated the entire human race laying Earth to waste in the process and The Doctor needs to travel to the Dalek home world, Skaro, in order to reverse the changes they've made to the time line and save Amy along with the rest of humanity.
Now, whilst the story for this episode fits the TV show format perfectly, unfortunately it also mirrors its length and you'll have no problem completing it within 45 - 90 mins, so the length of a double bill at the very least. The story itself is pretty well thought out and contains a number of references that in some cases go back to the earliest episodes when William Hartnell was still roaming around the universe playing the first incarnation of The Doctor. Unfortunately, whilst Matt Smith and Karen Gillan both lend their voices to their characters the spark that they have onscreen just doesn't seem to be there, but then again that's hardly surprising considering the writer for this episode had never seen anything from either of them. Also, the Daleks just don't seem quite as intimidating as you'd expect them to be and considering these are meant to be the most hardcore Daleks to date it's a bit of a disappointment, especially when you can wander around their city using the sonic screwdriver at will when we've previously seen that they're quite adept at detecting the emissions from the handy little device.
The controls are incredibly simple, the right mouse button or keyboard arrows move you around the environment, the left button lets you interact with everything you'll stumble across, the space button or middle mouse button'll open your inventory, and you can look around by moving the mouse. Unfortunately, this does mean that the number of things you can do are severely limited.
The gameplay is a mix of various element including puzzle solving, sneaking around patrolling Daleks, collecting items to construct or repair things that are crucial to progress further in the story, and questioning people as to exactly what's going on. Tip toeing past the Daleks is incredibly easy, all you need to do is work out their patrol patterns and you're ready to go, in fact once they've passed you it's possible to walk directly behind them without fear of any repercussions. Some of the puzzles do require a bit of thought and there was more than one occasion when they got the better of me and I had to restart them. When you do enter into a conversation the options are displayed on the screen and you'll be able to click on them in any order you like until they've been exhausted. It's also worth noting that if you do die or need to shut the game down for whatever reason, it does autosave as you go along so you don't have to worry about starting right from the beginning again.
Also in addition to the main game, there are a number of collectibles scattered around for you to collect some of which are hidden away but certainly aren't too difficult to find should you decide to go looking for them. Finally, you'll also be treated to a bit of a history lesson in the form of text that pops up when you click on certain object such as the black cabs, buses, and electronics you come across.
Had I payed for the game I'd have been incredibly disappointed and attempted to get my money back, but I don't think you should look at this and compare it to the majority of mainstream titles that you can pick up for your desktop or consoles because that just wouldn't be fair. Yes it's certainly rough around the edges and huge improvements could be made, especially if the aim becomes to enter it into the commercial market, but what the game shows is just how far things have come if this is the sort of quality we're to expect from free titles in the future. I've got my fingers crossed that this year's adventure games will show that there's certainly the demand for a proper Dr. Who game and hopefully the developers will take note of this and regenerate it into a polished title in the future.
Short Version: If you're a Dr. Who fan or you're curious to see how a free game compares to titles you'd have to go out and buy, then you should definitely give it a try, otherwise I wouldn't bother especially if you're expecting satisfying gameplay.
City of the Daleks is the first in a series of Dr. Who adventure games, which in my opinion have been long overdue since the rebirth of the series in 2005, and is available to download today for the PC and the 15th June for the Mac.
The best thing about these games is that the BBC are letting you download them for free!
The first instalment kicks things off with a bang, pitting the Doctor against his arch enemies, the Daleks. The TARDIS lands in 1963 where the Doctor and Amy step into the ruins of London created by the Daleks, who have seized control of time. Our favourite Time Lord then has to travel to the Dalek homeworld of Skaro in order to unravel this mystery, before the time of his faithful companion's species and planet runs out.
Previous games featured on the Dr. Who website have been targeted almost exclusively for kids, although there were a couple of diamonds in the rough, in particular Attack of the Graske and a game in which you played the Dalek from the 2005 episode Dalek.
The graphics in the game look pretty good and the story has been crafted by writers with at least one credit in the series, who have tried to incorporate the narrative strands from the TV show into the games, and thus have extended the current series from 13 to 17 episodes.
I'm hoping the four interactive episodes or adventure games, will grab the attention of developers who will see the potential of future Dr. Who games, whilst remaining loyal to the fans. I for one would love to play a longer game, in which you could play through some of the classic moments from Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant's tenures, before moving into Matt Smith's incarnation of the charismatic time traveller.
Dr. Who fans should love the game, and the fact its a free download means that its definitely worth a try, even if you don't know your sonic screwdriver from your vortex manipulator. Stay tuned for our review.
Thanks to andywedge @ HUKD
Considering the massive popularity of Dr. Who these days (and its successful rebranding from food for geeks to family favourite), it's surprising that it has never received a proper video game makeover. However, while they eschewed the idea of a proper adventure, Eidos did take the slightly bizarre step of marrying Dr. Who with Top Trumps in a delightful game setting.
Amazon are currently selling the Doctor's incredible card-based antics for less than a pound! This is a considerable saving compared to the next best price of £3.49 from Cool Shop.
91p for a game! Amazing! The one, teeny tiny little catch? It's kinda rubbish.
Top Trumps: Dr. Who is based on the animated series rather than the live action show (despite the more than a little misleading cover art) but most of the time you won't even be seeing any of that. Instead you'll mostly be looking at the rather utilitarian interface featuring your hand of cards and very little else. To be fair, it's a bit mean to judge the PS2 by current generation standards but even when pitted against its contemporaries, in terms of graphics, this game can only embarrass itself.
If you are a fan of both Top Trumps and Dr. Who then you might, might, just enjoy this game. However the chances are that you would have a much better time with the interaction that comes from a real life game of Top Trumps, although you'll probably have to pay slightly more for the privilege.
Thanks to dontdothatagain at Hotukdeals!