Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

There are a heap of great things about this Doctor Who game for the (TARDIS) console, in fact the only thing that really lets it down is the story.

So I'll ignore that and plough in with my reasons for why I think it's so brilliant.

1. The audio. The music and sound effects on here are terrific, ably augmenting Matt Smith and Alex Kingston's very in-character performances as the Doctor and River. While the wonderful cut scenes are sadly kept to a minimum, their barrage of voice-over dialogue during the gameplay just never lets up, and mostly feels very in-keeping with the TV show. When, in Stormcage, River eerily gets rung up by the cloister bell, you gotta admit that looks like a Moffatism.

River: "Thermionic conduits - a quick blast, or a fiddle from your sonic, and Bob's your uncle. We can use them to climb up!"
Doctor: "Bob's not my uncle."
River: "So who is your uncle?"
Doctor: "'The Uncle.'"
River: "Is… that… a thing?"
Doctor: "It's a Time Lord thing."

Even the background extras make knowing remarks like "Unauthorised temporal engineering will not be tolerated."

2. Some of the visuals are awesome too. The recurring time-corridor game, despite forgetting to include River, is eclipsed only by the even more awe-inspiring Dalek flagship.

Doctor: "This is like no time-corridor I've ever seen before!"

3. The pacing.

4. The missions. When River has to break into the Silence lair and keep one of them within sight at all times on pain of the level resetting her with no memory of events, then you know someone's thought about how to do this.

Caption: "You've forgotten what you were doing."

There's even a huge missing scene at one point, following which our two leads realise that they must have been captured and separated by the memory-wiping fiends.

Unfortunately that's where I have to segue into the game's shortcomings, eg. why on Earth the Silence would separate our heroes instead of kill them. Maybe the Silent leader is in fact played by Mike Myers in a bald wig, whose son Scott Silent keeps pointing out the obvious holes in his plans to him.

Scott Silent: [SLOW BREATH]"I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out! They'll NEVER remember THAT!"
Evil Silent: [SLOW BREATH]"You just, don't, get it do ya?"
Scott Silent: [SLOW BREATH]"But I-"
Evil Silent: [SLOW BREATH]"Silence."
Scott Silence: [SLOW BREATH]"I ju-"
Evil Silence: [SLOW BREATH]"Silence."
Scott Silence: [SLOW BREATH]"Y-"
Evil Silence: [SLOW BREATH]"Silence. Look, right here I've got a whole TARDIS of silence that's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside…"

But it's not just the Silence though. If I didn't already have a big enough problem with the multiple depositing of artefacts in public places to be recovered several hundred years later, then River's total and utter failure to use her vortex manipulator throughout the entire game would still on its own be a spoiler of a different sort.

I mean if you've got one of those super-handy things, then why instead would you spend so much time and effort trying to get from A to B, hiding behind objects and using time corridors?

River: "Over there - another time-corridor!"
Doctor: "We need to get over the drawbridge to reach it."
River: "Then we need to find a way to lower it first."

And it's not just a plot hole, a great deal of this game, despite its three-dimensional appearance, is playable in only two. Right from the opening level, just how many times do the Doctor and River have to heave themselves up and over a tower of boxes or something instead of… uhm… just walking around them?

Doctor: "Who designed this place - Escher?!"

That said, all credit to the eleventh Doc, and indeed River, for displaying such Herculean abilities throughout this platform game of Super Doctor Kong. I remember once reading an interview with the sixth Doctor - Colin Baker - who explained how on the show they always portrayed how much things hurt. Not so here - this Doctor can now barely notice himself falling several storeys, repeatedly.

I gotta admit, as I sit here typing this afterwards, I'm filled with a renewed determination to get back down the gym. He climbs and hangs from those pipes so easily - I should be able to do that too!

A few other random notes:

- Devastated London is reminiscent of both City Of The Daleks (complete with Power Ranger Daleks), and Cardiff trying to look like London. Even the tube station doesn't have a proper Underground sign outside. Given that it's the 21st century, are we saying that London's below-ground rail network is now being run by TubeCorp?

Doctor: "Good to see they're starting as they mean to go on - with engineering works."

- River spends much of the game trailing around after the Doctor (and occasionally getting reset while he obliviously carries on) in much the same way as her mum in The Adventure Games.

- The Doctor gets doors unlocked by using his sonic Screwdriver. River does it by kissing guards, some of whom sound like Shrek.

- Given River's leather skintight catsuit, and the Doctor's bow-tie, they can look a bit like The Avengers. Well, some of the time:

- River: "This corridor looks abandoned, and too big for the house outside."

- There's a statue of the eleventh Doctor, that has been erected by 'Bess'. Um, shouldn't that be of the tenth?

- Ingenious perception filter minigame.

- It seems like every time zone contains long Irwin Allen-esque red ladders. I guess they never go out of fashion.

- Given that each of the Diet-Cybermen contains a human brain, there's a lot of death in this.

- The Silence say a bunch of things that - here in February 2013 - don't make a heap of sense to me. These include "You will break the Silence!" (huh?) and, to the Doctor, "Your silence will fall. It makes no difference to us where you die."

- Among other things, the Doctor refers to chronon-energy, and Sarah Jane.

- Zippy Dalek. If only he/it were voiced by Roy Skelton. :(

And finally, the script does a nice line in quotes that can be entertainingly recycled as cynical comments about the game itself. These include:

Diet Cyberman: "Halt! Prepare to be upgraded!"
Diet Cyberman: "Upgrade cancelled - delete!"
Diet Cyberman: "Delete! Delete! Deleeete!!!"
Doctor: "Nothing about this is good."
Doctor: "It all makes sense now."

Well, impressed as I am with the execution on this, I have to disagree with that last one. I'm lost. In fact, I found myself siding with what that Dalek was protesting towards the end…


(available here)

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