Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

NEW OBJECTIVE! Assist Fawkes.

I don't know the behind-the-scenes history of the BBC's online Doctor Who Adventure Games, but their production and publication have appeared consistently haphazard.

This is the fifth one, which is also the first release of the second series, and also the last one ever.

Oh, well, okay then. I guess that, like so many other online accompaniments to the TV series, this idea really didn't work out for you BBC, did it?

Nonetheless, it can be argued that this is a good one to go out on, because it's the weakest. Weakest? Well no, that accolade surely belongs to the minimalist third game TARDIS, but this one is the slowest, the longest and even the wordiest. (sheesh it's all starting to sound like a song by that movie-Chesterton Roy Castle)

All that would have been just one sentence in the first series! Well, most of the time:

In fact, I should really be citing this as an advantage. There is so much dialogue, story, and running around enormous locations in this, that it doesn't feel so much like another instalment, as an omnibus edition of an entire series. At one point you have to find and gather three different types of herb to get another character to mix into a potion to present to a third character to win their trust just to gain information from them. Not that anyone instructs you to do this - you just gotta figure that out for yourself. Is that a good or a bad thing? I guess it really depends on what kind of a gamer you are.

I hate to say this, but for me this epic also suffers from being set entirely in the past. I'm afraid I just don't get turned on by historical stories, even when they feature aliens, and especially when they feature author Phil Ford's favourite device of zombies.

At another point the Doctor remarks that the town crier's brain has shut down because he has no point of reference for seeing a lesion, however straight afterwards said crier explains that he has seen two of these before. Which is true?

Ultimately these are all minor aesthetic quibbles though. While I doubt that many players - kids or adults - would grit their teeth through this all the way to the end, the fact remains that its script and realisation are really going for it, even if the actual gameplay isn't.

As with the first series, the Doctor still picks items up by merely crouching in front of them and putting his hands together. The simplicity of earlier games made this sort of shortcoming in the graphics passable, but in the context of this epic I found it jarred. Conversely, it can be argued that Rory's awkwardness of motion here is entirely consistent with his character in the TV series.

At another point the Doctor is instructed to knock on the door of the Dog and Duck four times to be admitted, but in the event the action has him do it six.

Other nitpicks include:

- The Doctor appearing to remark "Oh, my God!" The subtitle was actually left on-screen from Amy's exclaiming it, but here the Doctor's lips are flapping with no dialogue of his on the soundtrack, giving the same impression. He's probably muttering "No, it's a Rutan" or something.

- When Amy is asking passers by for the gossip on the streets, some of them have the same voice and soundbite.

- Several typos (well, I noticed three).

- The audio. Stony and open-air locations sound like a box, and the vocal direction sounds quite theatrical.

- The cut scene in the drawing room is not letterboxed. Well, given how letterboxing goes elsewhere, that's not really such a bad thing is it:

Other zoomgrooms (I don't know the antonym for nitpick so I just made one up) include:

- I liked the way Rory defeated the Sontaran with the floorboard.

- I like the design of the Rutan ship interior.

- I liked the Jacobean Life facts. Seriously, despite my disinterest in the period, these really brought it to life.

I didn't spot much to place it within Doctor Who chronology. Having guarded Amy for the last thousand years of English history (including this one of 1605), even Rory's recognition of the Sontarans is to be expected. Despite the game's release after season 32 had ended, it is obviously intended to belong somewhere in that season. The Ponds seem to be less bickery which would push it later, and there's no appearance by Madame Kovarian either. Night Terrors struck me as very much a Halloween episode, so this Guy Fawkes night one may as well come straight after it.

Finally, the adventure's coup de grace has just got to be this credit at the end:

The Silence? Really? I don't remember seeing them…

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