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Doctor Who: City of the Daleks (Windows)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
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Written by  :  RussS (781)
Written on  :  Dec 01, 2010
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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Summary

A fun blast of the Doctor.

The Good

This is the first game released as part of the Doctor Who Adventure Games that accompany the fifth series of the new Doctor Who. They are structured to act as individual episodes and as such are short in length, taking only a couple of hours to play, so what's the opener like?

Well, it feels very much like an episode of the TV series, complete with the required amount of running around. The story opens with the Doctor and Amy arriving in London in 1963, only to find the city in ruins, it and the whole planet are under control of the Daleks. The Doctor and Amy must discover what has happened and stop it. This involves some time and space travel as they go to the Dalek home world of Skaro to stop the restoration of the Dalek Empire.

The game-play and graphical style feels fresh and clean, a lot has been done to make this game accessible for all. All interactions can be carried out with the mouse (though there are also undocumented keyboard controls) with clear instructions from pop-ups explaining what to do. You mainly control the Doctor, with occasional segments as Amy, as you explore the 3D environments. These have been carefully designed to look expansive whilst only allowing a small fairly linear path, not allowing you to stray too far from the plot.

The game sticks closely to the adventure game genre, presenting a series of puzzles to solve in order to progress the story. These vary from avoiding the Dalek patrols to more traditional slider puzzles, you are always instructed what you have to do before each segment. These provide a nice change and mix physical with mental action. All are pretty easy though, the Dalek A.I. is basic and the engine displays their line of sight, allowing the Doctor to stand three metres in front of a Dalek and still not be detected.

This also illustrates the clear intent of the developers to make the game easy for novices and also family friendly. Despite the relative ease of dying at Dalek hands, the game is still mild on violence. The controls are simple and the complexity low, which also helps keep up the pace of the game.

The Bad

The controls are a little oversimplified. For example there is no way to side step or reverse, which can make avoiding Dalek patrols often difficult as the Doctor's reactions are slow.

Other than that I can find little to complain about. The BBC have obviously tried to throw in an educational aspect (I suspect to lure funds from different departments) in the form of 'fact' hotspots which otherwise interrupt play. They've also sought to add some kind of replay value by scattering 'collector cards' through each level, another distraction.

The Bottom Line

City of the Daleks is a great, fast-paced adventure, much like an episode of the TV series. It converts the format of the show brilliantly including the interaction between the Doctor and Amy. Despite taking just over twice the length of a TV episode to play, it has the pacing and scale of a normal episode. I hope the rest of the games live up to this standard.