Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It is the 23rd century. The Earth is pretty well covered with water. After K9 it all looks like the great cataclysm, but there's a history fact in here attributing it to global warming. Might that be the same thing? As things stand here at the end of 2012, we may never know…

Mankind now lives in giant sprawling complexes under the sea, relying upon artificial intelligence to run its systems. (always a smart move) It's all going reasonably well, until a bright flash deposits outside a giant hungry shark. Oh, and the Vashta Nerada. Don'tcha just hate it when that happens?

Now, I know, the Vashta Nerada ought to just eat the shark, but in computer games it's never as simple as that. Nothing is. Even something as straightforward as running down a corridor becomes a case of rewiring circuits, ducking out of sight from zombies, and waiting for lights to come on in sequence. (Vashta Nerada remember)

Squeezing every possible strategy out of the gameplay, at one point you have to guide Amy past several obstacles and up multiple flights of steps, after which you then go on to… guide the Doctor through exactly the same.

I have to admit, this being episode four of the Doctor Who Adventure Game series, similarities with episodes one and two (author Phil Ford's other two full stories in this range) are beginning to emerge. The wires game, the timed obstacles, the illness, the base under siege from monsters with a sweeping green line-of-vision, not to mention all those looong corridors, ramps, staircases and control panels…

I can't really criticise any of that though. These games are FREE, and as such of course we look beyond the clumsy graphics, and applaud the imaginative way in which elements are recycled to give us another fresh instalment of Doctor Who, albeit in a different medium.

The highlight here for me therefore really has to be the cut scenes. Despite skipping some travelling from A to B, some of these go on for quite a while, making it feel more like watching an episode. When the Doctor and Amy, knowing that they are up against creatures that can only harm them in the shadows, return to the TARDIS to later emerge without having thought to get a torch, well, then you know you're in the same dizzy mindset as the TV show these days. Even the climactic final sequence involves the Doctor as usual just pressing a button to magically undo for him everything that's happened so far. (again like so many stories since the show's revival) What an enormous shame though, that said cut scenes didn't extend to actually showing us this most vital sequence from the story.

In fact, after the surprising minimalism and co-authorship of the preceding third instalment, in retrospect, the jumps in narrative here suggest a production finished in something of a rush.

What's that? Series two of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games only ran for one episode?

Well, that's a bit of a shame. I think.

Doctor: "Hmm. Generator's still not working properly. Must be something blocking the vents. I'll keep working on it here, you head up the corridor and…"

Amy: "I know, I know, bravely face the darkness and monsters and save the day again."

Doctor: "Well, it's probably just a matter of flicking a switch actually, but yes. Good luck with… err… flicking that switch."


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