A post about Doctor Who: Return To Earth that I was peer-pressured into writing and uses other people’s screenshots

6 Jan


– There’s no point paying for the likenesses and voices of the show’s cast if you’re not going to bother animating them properly. Or at all.

– I only played/watched someone play up until roughly the halfway mark, but almost every second was focused on the task of collecting crystals and using them as ammunition for the sonic screwdriver, which can then shoot little balls at floating smiley faces. Ignoring for a second the insulting degree of ineptitude it would require to base a Doctor Who game on shooting floating smiley faces, even one aimed at kids, they’ve given the sonic screwdriver pretty much the only ability they didn’t give it on screen. At last, it’s made the jump from ‘Overused magic plot device’ to ‘Omnipotent Godstick’. All the sinister aliens of the Universe might as well hang up their capes and yellow contact lenses.


– Lessons from The Beeb’s own free Doctor Who Adventure games haven’t been learnt, and stealth sections make a very unwelcome appearance. These expand on DWA’s formula, making them broken as well as boring. At one point a Cyberman, hell-bent on frying Amy Pond (clad in a curiously arse-hugging spacesuit) with his terrible gunhand, simply ambled into a corner and stopped. Instantly forgetting his mission to kill that ginger bird what was sneaking around here, and occasionally twitching, I was able to stroll past him inexplicably unnoticed.

– Speaking of the Adventure games, a rewiring/circuit-fixing minigame features prominently. Sometimes your goal of guiding a flashy little ball around a maze (?) is given a pointless and frustrating twist by the appearance of an evil anti-ball (!) that spawns immediately behinds you and instantly melts you. And by you I mean the stupid, stupid ball.


– It’s also completely fuck-ugly. Abandoned spaceships are a surefire setting for instant creepiness and atmosphere (up there with abandoned underground bunkers, abandoned  abattoirs and abandoned Mayan tombs), but this looks like a budget PS2 game. Worse, in fact. The lifeless environments manage to be less interesting than the show’s cardboard stage sets (less convincing too – why is there a bottomless bit in the ship’s canteen?) and the character models are a joke – they’ve gone and made Karen Gillan unattractive. Unforgivable.

– Most worrying of all, tiny children are going to be the main ones playing this game. For one, it could lead to a generation where everyone thinks all games are as half-arsed and idiotically constructed as this one. For two, it’ll teach them that you can get struck in the head by an asteroid the size of a Nissan Micra four times before dying of it. What kind of life lesson is that?


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