Doctor Who: The Adventure Games - City of the Daleks • Page 2

"Geronimo!"

At this point I'm dangerously close to entering the aforementioned realms of the churlish when discussing the way that stealth works in Doctor Who. For a start, when you've got a hero who gets out of every situation through a) running around the place, b) non-violent and somewhat imaginary science and c) Jammie Dodgers, then stealth is the primary way to go.

Then also you've got the fact that the code I played up at Sheffield development house Sumo Digital will no doubt have work done on its difficulty before its release. You've also got to take into account everything formerly underlined about these games being free, and all.

Now we're all caveated to the hilt, however, it's got to be said: the Doctor Who brand of creeping around the place does grit the teeth. As soon as you enter the Commandos-style green vision triangles of roving pepper pots you're fair game: instant Extermination will follow, even if you make a feeble sprint to get away.

Everyone, from six to 60, will grumpily bash a wall at some stage of the game, floundering in and out of patrolling Dalek vision. The problem is compounded, however, by the fact that the game is currently poor at letting you know which direction you should be heading in, and which on-screen level furniture will prove useful. The clever signposting and wink-and-a-nod visual indications of modern gaming aren't really here, and these rough edges coupled with the frequent deaths of the Doctor give off the feeling of a game of an earlier (re)generation.

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Back to the action though. It's not long before the game whisks you off to Kaalann, the Dalek capital city that lurks on the evil acid-tinged face of the planet of Skaro. It's here that the destruction of the 1960s can be remedied, but first of all a few sci-fi widgets need to be foraged to stop lovely Amy's lovely face fading in and out of reality, in traditional Marty McFly fashion.

As you begin the hunt you can't help but have a nerd-tingle or two as you gaze out of the facility's spherical windows and into a beautiful new imagining of Skaro, but after your gawping there's more stealth to be slunk through Dalek-manufacturing zones and mini-games to be completed while avoiding the watchful gaze of giant librarian eye-stalks.

Throughout the episode these games include wiring up circuit boards, dragging balls through electrified mazes without touching the sides, and arranging and rotating relevant Dalek symbols as the corresponding letters cascade towards you. They're simple affairs, yes, but still consistently entertaining and the stimulus behind pleasurable levels of mind-nuzzle.

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How to leave it, then? Despite the potential niggles, City of the Daleks is fun to play, authentic and amusing in its casting and dialogue and part of an online strategy that puts other broadcasters to shame. It's also clear that it's a better product than the drivel that's seeped out of big-budget American shows like Lost and Prison Break over the past few years. What's more, to underline, if you live in the UK it's going to be free. Did I mention that already?

I can't stand here and say that this first episode is going to be an all-out success as a self-contained game - especially not for an older and more game-literate audience - but when viewed as a story-focused episode built to complement, and indeed stand alongside, the current excellent run of Doctor Who of a Saturday night, it will fare better.

The gameplay may not prove to be perfect then, but the thinking behind its creation remains welcome, generous and the probable start of something special. It also stars a pretty Scottish redhead, who I love and will one day love me, so it gets lots of bonus points.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games - City of the Daleks launches for PC and Mac on 5th June at www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho.

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About the author

Will Porter

Will Porter

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Will ‘Velvet Owl’ Porter is a roaming freelance writer who most recently worked with The Creative Assembly on Alien: Isolation. You can find out how cold/hungry he is by following @Batsphinx on Twitter.

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