Thursday 30 December 2010

Game REVIEW: Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth (DS)

Ever wondered what you get when you cross Doctor Who with a cheap imitation of Professor Layton? The answer is, unsurprisingly, an appalling game.

Evacuation Earth begins with a fairly interesting plot - The Doctor and Amy arrive in the Lake District in the far future, where the last remnants of humanity are preparing the leave the planet due to the incoming solar flares (the same ones mentioned in the season 5 episode The Beast Below) and get caught up in the evacuation due to the TARDIS going missing on-board the ship. Meanwhile the Silurians also have plans to evacuate the Earth and later some Daleks (who seem to be from the games Wii-counterpart Return to Earth) who are also in need of the Doctor's help/have their own dastardly plans. It'd be a plot that could carry an episode of the series - if it wasn't so damn short. The game is made up of a measly four chapters - the Daleks are beaten almost as soon as they turn up and the game can easily be completed in three hours (well, that's the time it took me, and I was playing it at a rather leisurely pace).

The gameplay, as I mentioned earlier, is nothing more than a cheap imitation of Level-5's Professor Layton series - so much it almost feels like plagiarism. You walk around areas, solving puzzles with give a set amount of points (which decrease every time you get the puzzle wrong). These puzzles are have three hints you can unlock spending these points and the answer is accompanied by a little 3-step animation (but instead of Layton or Luke, it's a materialising TARDIS). Of course these puzzles aren't half as engaging as the ones present in Layton - most of the time they amount to spot the difference or put some puzzle pieces back together. The only difficult puzzles are four sliding tile type ones - and they aren't even compulsory ones! Half the time the puzzles have little to do with the plot (picking out a fish for a crew member, rearranging a work rota etc.) and are really jarring to the story. Sometimes there'll be a few puzzles that feel like they belong in a Doctor Who game, such as charting a spaceship course or avoiding some patrolling Daleks, but its rather scarce. The game's main problem isn't how easy it is though, it's how poorly made it is. Controls are glitchy (things flash onto screen without pressing them, you'll press one side of the screen with the stylus and it'll select the other which makes the Sonic Screwdriver steady hand games really frustrating) and the puzzles are poorly worded (there's at least one instance where the answer doesn't match the question, therefore completely wrong, and that is downright unacceptable for a mass produced game).

To be honest I shouldn't have expected much from a game by Asylum Entertainment (responsible for games starring the likes of Peppa Pig and the Teletubbies) but I expected something at least relatively professional. Other sites have said that this game is great for younger children, but to be honest unless I was about 5 I'd feel exactly the same about this game as I do now. The only thing is game has going for it is a semi decent plot (and the cutscenes are probably up on youtube by now anyway) and some good 11th Doctor-esque dialogue. If this is this bad, I hate to see what Return to Earth is like, because apparently Evacuation Earth is a masterpiece by comparison...

My wait for a decent Doctor Who game continues.

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