Sunday 27 June 2010

Game REVIEW: Doctor Who Adventure Games episode 2 - "Blood of the Cybermen"

City of the Daleks was a mixed bag. As a Dalek fan I highly enjoyed the game, but it did leave some things to be desired - the game didn't run particularly well for me, the plot seemed rushed and the game play was repetitive (with far too many steady hand type games). But for a free game it was more than enough to satisfy and I hoped that the next installment 'Blood of the Cybermen' would build upon some of these mistakes. And it did.

Set, the Doctor and Amy encounter an Arctic exploration team over ran by Cybermats, who have injected the team with a nano virus to make them zombified Cyberslaves. These Cyberslaves in turn are being used to free a Cybership crashed that into the ice long ago. Feels very much like a homage to John Carpenter's The Thing, and is in fact even mentioned within the game itself!

Admittedly the game play isn't that much different to City - missions, puzzles, sneaking etc, somehow it manages to feel like a far better experience as a whole. The game may benefit from the fact the Cybermen themselves aren't present from the get-go, instead only turning up in the final act as opposed to dodging Daleks right away in City. The Cyberslaves are quite an interesting sub race, zombified humans with cybernetic parts. Something I'd quite like to see turn up in the series rather than the diabolical CyberShades of The Next Doctor. They aren't quite as attentive as Daleks - so the sneaking is a little easier if just as repetitive. However much like before keep an eye on Amy, I was killed several times by her getting spotted following along behind me.

The game isn't that long (I finished it in just over 2 hours) but for a free game that's a pretty good length and the various collectables does make for good replay value.

But for me the biggest question lies in just which kind of Cybermen the ones present in Blood are. While its instantly apparent that they have the design and mannerisms (delete, upgrade, lightning bolt powers etc) of the parallel world Cybus industries models present in Nu-Who, there are also a lot of elements that to suggest that perhaps these are in fact Mondasian Cybermen. The first and perhaps most significant one lies within the plot itself - an Arctic excavation team finding a crashed Cybermen spaceship. Now until The Pandorica Opens (and even that isn't 100% proof), Cybus Cybermen have not only seemed uninterested but also incapable of space travel. The ship itself buried within the ice also looks strikingly similar to the tombs of Telos seen in the (arguably best) Cyberman story Tomb of the Cybermen. The ship also had to have crashed in the past in order for it to have been covered in that much ice - Cybusmen are even less adept at time travel. Mondasian Cybermen (while they have crude knowledge of it) wouldn't need to have time travelled because of their origins.

Next comes the inclusion of the Cybermats - a creature not seen Revenge of the Cybermen in the 70s and connected closely to the Cybermen of the Troughton era. While it is again not impossible to conceive that parallel earth Cybermen would use Cybermats, much like the concept of space travel it is a huge leap to have these seemingly primative Cybermen suddenly using nanotech viruses to turn skin straight into metal. Finally and initially the most obvious is the lack of the Cybus 'C' on the chest of the monsters - instead they have a simplified design of their face, as do the Cybermats. Again this is a trait common with Troughton era Cybermen.

Either way it doesn't detract from the story and its fun to guess as to which Cybermen these really are. If they do turn out to be Mondasians, I'm somewhat glad they haven't been completely redesigned because I am actually quite fond of the design itself.

While it may feel shorter, Blood of the Cybermen is definitely a step up from City of the Daleks in terms of gameplay and how smoothly it runs. The plot is also very good, and wouldn't have felt out of place as a proper episode. If you're in the UK and have a computer that can run this game I do recommend giving it a go - with a lack of Dr Who until Christmas this will kill the wait for a few hours.

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