So, here I am, a newly-converted Doctor Who fan, and I'll be damned if I'm not sat looking at the first episode in the recently announced Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, City of the Daleks remember those guys? If you're going to do a Doctor Who game, you might as well start off big.
If you missed our news coverage of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games
, have some context: it's a series of downloadable PC and Mac games. They're all free. Free like air and reading Daily Mail
comments. They're also being produced with heavy involvement from the BBC. Everything developer Sumo's been doing has been vetted and consulted on, with the interactive episodes having been written by show writers Phil Ford (1&2) and James Moran (3&4). Speaking on a panel at a press event yesterday Iain Tweedale, multiplatform commissioning editor at BBC Wales, even went so far as to say, "It's about developing a new drama format."
So, yeah. A lot of effort is going into making these games count, and making them authentic Who experiences. Because, let's face it, who even remembers previous games starring the Doctor? A line you might have seen in the original press release was trotted out several times by several people at yesterday's event – 'there aren't 13 episodes in the latest Doctor Who series, there are 17 and four of them are interactive.' Promising stuff.
Anyway, back to the actual game. As I said, in kicking things off with the Daleks the BBC and Sumo are starting off big. I mean, REALLY
big. Phil Ford, writer of City of the Daleks
, pointed out that the structure of the game is much like the structure of a TV episode - the Doctor appears
somewhere, he discovers a problem and he has to deal with said problem. So it is that the Tardis lands in the Trafalgar Square of 1963 to find it, and all of London, decimated. Now, I don't know if you were around in the London of 1963 (I was still 20 years off being fetal) but I think we can all agree that it wasn't post-apocalyptic. That's a whopper of a conundrum to deal with.
This big start to the game also illustrates the fact that the games can go places the TV show can't. Sure, they could
show you a decimated London in the first couple of minutes of a TV episode, but then *poof*, the budget's been swallowed and you're spending the rest of the season watching the Doctor solve problems like getting to the shop and finding out he doesn't have enough money for biscuits. Showing that in the game, though, is relatively cheap.
So, you step out of the Tardis and have a bit of a 'WTF??' moment. You also see the digital versions of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Time to take a moment to consider how the Doctor and Amy look, eh? The detail is good. Sumo spent a lot of time poring over the character' wardrobes and movements to get their likenesses right, and they seem to have done a good job.
Anecdotal evidence from an upcoming episode of Doctor Who Confidential
has Matt Smith complaining 'I don't run like that!' and Karen Gillan chirpily informing him that 'you run exactly
like that'. And that's exactly the kind of detail you want, since a Doctor who runs like Sly Stallone would have chucked me right out of the game.
That's not to say they look stunning – the episodes are being built to run on the majority of low-end PCs and weigh in at around 250MB. As a result the textures look a little flat and The Adventure Games
certainly won't measure up to high-end PC and console games. But, you know, it's free. Not that that would be an excuse for poor quality (which this isn't) – but it is an excuse for not looking like Crysis 2