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Everyone by know must have heard of Doctor Who, the new Doctor Who that is, Matt Smith and his assistant Karen Gillan, (Amy Pond).
So, in the tradition of popular television shows, the makers of Doctor Who decided to release a DS game or two, (maybe three of ten as time goes on).
One of the official games released is the DS game called Doctor Who, Evacuation Earth, which was first released on DS format at the end of 2010, involves the Doctor, briefly voiced by Matt Smith, and his companion Amy Pond, voiced by Karen Gillan, trying to save the population of Earth from a dreaded enemy.
In this single player game you play as the Doctor and his glamorous assistant Amy Pond, and the characters on the screen do actually look a little like the real actors, (only a little though).
There is a story behind this game, (sort of), which starts with the TARDIS landing in the Lake District, only it's not the peaceful Lake District that once was, it is a little more dangerous for the human race.
Unfortunately for you the TARDIS is then taken by someone and you have to guide the pair through a series of tasks in order to get it back so that you can get off Planet Earth before it is destroyed by a solar storm.
As you travel through the levels, (Or chapters as they are called in this game), you'll soon discover the reason for the disappearance of the TARDIS as the story unfolds, creating more challenges for you to conquer in order the save the day once again.
You meet some of the Doctors old foes, such as the Daleks and the Silurians,
(lizard people), plus a few other humans who are trying to flee Earth before the solar flare hits.
Playing the game is pretty easy, especially for older people like myself. You have to negotiate several challenges in order to re-unite the Doctor with his blue box, the challenges consists of manoeuvring a globe through a thin tunnel without hitting the walls or being zapped by an electric barrier, or re-organising a few piece so that they make a picture of something or other, (such as a Sonic Screwdriver). Even picking a few locks so you can get through a door without the key.
You control the game by tapping the lower screen on the DS with your stylus, with the upper screen being used for seeing such things as the map of where you are and some clues to how to complete certain tasks.
You have to follow the games set path to complete each level, sometimes going back on yourself to chat to certain people, this can seem a little complicated at first but as the game only goes in one direction it soon becomes clear which way to go, mainly as nothing happens if you try to go any way but the right way.
The graphics are pretty good, especially for the screen size, although only a few of the characters on screen actually move. (When I say move I really mean that another screen opens up when you press on certain characters).
When the characters do chat to each other and the text appears along the bottom of the lower screen, with the name of the person whose talking appearing as well. If you want to speed the text up you have to tap the screen for a while.
You pick items up as you go along, such as the sonic screwdriver, tools that you'll need to get through to the next round, then there's a lock pick, which helps you get through certain doors, (even using the lock pick becomes repetitive and as easy as turning a key to be honest). But each piece of equipment you pick up is soon used to get you onto the next challenge, if challenge is the right word.
Once you've completed one task the red arrow on the floor turns green, telling you that that pathway is open for you to go on.
Each time you complete a task you continue to the next one, but if you fail you have to try again, losing a few points each time you fail, (to a certain extent).
The tasks are a little repetitive making them a little easier as you go through the game, knowing how to complete the task, but some of them do tend to speed up a little to add to the frustration.
When I played the game I found it very simple indeed, once I'd quickly mastered the simple tasks in hand, but what really disappointed me was the abrupt ending, which really is abrupt indeed, making me feel as if there must be some hidden scenes somewhere for completing it... but alas, there wasn't. So in a way I feel like I wasted a few hours of my life on a game with no real ending.
There was only one 'task' that had a sort of time limit in it, this was only achieved due to the fact that you were being chased by a little globe through a maze, and if it caught you you had to start the task again. But when you were playing all the other 'tasks' you could take as much time as you needed, (although each one only took a few minutes to figure out, especially if you 'bought' the clues for 5 points each)
And it wasn't just me that was a little disappointed in this game, my daughter, who this game actually belongs to, says she found this a little bit too easy, although she did throw one or two little strops when she became a little frustrated in parts, but this frustration didn't last long. She finished this game almost as quick as I did and she was not happy with the ending either, in fact she hasn't been on it since.
Would I recommend this game?
NO.... not unless you get it for a couple of quid, and even then it may be a couple of quid too much.
It is just to repetitive in parts and this makes it too easy to complete, then, when you do complete it, the finale will make you wish the battery had died on the DS way before you'd started the game.
If you do want to play it, maybe to see how truly repetitive it really is, then I suggest hiring it from a games store or even borrowing it off a friend, (I only wish I'd thought of that before throwing money down the drain).
As for the price, well, when this game was released on the DS towards the end of 2010 it was selling for the usual 'new DS game release price' of around £40.00, but now, as with all 'older games', you can get a copy for less than £20.00.
Along with my new Nintendo DSi XL for Christmas last year I also receieved a couple of new games. Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth was one and being the fan of Doctor Who that I am I couldn't wait to unwrap it and get stuck in to the action I thought was waiting for me. Described as being an interactive adventure game giving you the chance to become the Doctor and guide him and assistant Amy Pond through a series of challenges and puzzles it became obvious after only a few minutes of play that Evacuation Earth has been heavily influenced by the incredibly popular Professor Layton series of mysteries. Whilst this is not such a bad thing in principle, I am a massive fan of the Layton games after all, the truth of the matter is that this game struggled to captivate my interest like Professor Layton did and ended up being somewhat of a damp squib. This review will try to give an insight as to why the game failed to live up to my expectations and explain what went wrong with the first official Doctor Who NDS adventure game.
This is an official piece of Doctor Who merchandise and as such benefits from having the vocal talents of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan featured throughout the game. The central story was written by Oli Smith who has written Doctor Who stories in the past and is built around the Doctor and Amy's search for the TARDIS which has vanished. They are on Earth just before a solar storm is about to hit and the remaining humans are set to evacuate the planet onboard a huge spaceship. It soon becomes apparent that the TARDIS's technology has been integrated into the spaceship and the Doctor and Amy have to follow a set of clues and solve puzzles to be able to get the TARDIS back whlst at the same time discovering who was behind the disappearance of it in the first place.
The game is presented on the DS with the bottom screen being the one where you control the characters via the games stylus on the touchscreen, it is a point and tap adventure with paths placed in front of you with a series of different options allowing you to choose where to go. The top screen simply displays a map throughout the gameplay but does switch to animated cut-scenes at significant points during the action. The graphics are certainly clear enough to be easily seen although they are quite primitive in design which is a common feature on DS games anyway. The characters are in fixed positions with only a limited amount of variation in facial expressions and any dialogue outside of the cut screens is presented at the bottom of the lower screen in speech bubbles which are not spoken. The characters themselves are not seen walking and much of the game is taken up with randomly tapping the touchscreen to enter the different puzzles it offers. The familiar 'whooshing' sound of the TARDIS is noticeable when a puzzle has been completed and you are told whether or not you have successuly completed a task and as far as the design, sound and graphics are concerned these are probably the strongest areas of the game itself.
The storyline is introduced and moved along by the means of animated cut scenes and the representations of Smith and Gillan are instantly recognisible. Similar to Professor Layton this game places you in charge of the Doctor and to progress through the game you have to solve a number of puzzles and mini games. The locations on board the ship are varied and in each section there are other characters you have to interact with to gain passage or to progress to the next level. Split into 4 individual chapters the puzzles get harder the further you go and whilst this is another similarity to Professor Layton its the actual mini-games and challenges themselves which let the game as a whole down.
The main problem with the puzzles contained in Evacuation Earth is that they are all so similar to each other and unless you are a fan of sliding puzzle games you will soon tire of what you have to actually do. This was my bugbear with the game as a whole and I was disappointed that there just wasn't enough variety, if it wasn't a sliding puzzle to complete it was trying to guide a ball of energy into a target with obstacles in the way. Fitting odd-shaped pieces into a container also featured heavily which became tedious after a while as did the seemingly random tasks you were sent on to appease a chacter who stood conviently in the way of the game. The descrition on the box of the game would have you believe that there are over 100 puzzles to complete which is probably true, however what it doesn't tell you is that the puzzles are all pretty much identical to one another and weren't that challenging truth be told. There were no 'head-scratching' moments in any of the puzzles which I often find in Professor Layton and I didn't even have to consult a Walkthrough guide on the Internet to get past a particularly tricky point, something which again I have had to do on numerous occasions with games of a similar nature.
In all honesty the puzzles are ridiculously easy to solve and didn't pose that much of a challenge even in the latter stages of the game, hints can be bought with coins which are given once a previous puzzle is solved but I never had to use them and overall I got the impression that I was perhaps not the target age for this particular game although saying that I doubt that the game would prove to be too much of a challenge even for younger players.
If that wasn't bad enough the front of the games box acts as a spoiler to who is behind the TARDIS's disappearance in the first place - so much for making that discovery for yourself as the game reaches its climax! Worse still once the game has been completed there is a final cut screen which seems to be over in a matter of seconds and you get absolutely no sense of achievement for completing the game whatsover. You are not given the option to go back to the game you have just played to complete any missing puzzles or revisit any areas and at no point are you updated with your own progress by the means of a percentage complete total so have no idea if you managed to locate and complete all of the available puzzles anyway.
Poor game selection and box spoilers aside the game is also fiddly to actually control when you are trying to move from location to location. Sometimes there are locked gates and hatches in your way and you have at your disposal a number of items (Sonic Screwdriver and Lockpick are two examples) which you can use to open doors and get past obstacles. Mastering the art of where to actually place the lockpick takes some practice as you have to 'wiggle' your tool (ahem!) over what you want to open. Sometimes the game recognises this action but more often than not it doesn't so pointless time is wasted trying to open something you know needs opening but can't because the game doesn't know what you are doing. This is _incredibly_ frustrating as you can imagine and caused me to stop playing on a few occasions only to return a short while later and be allowed to pass. Even the larger screen of my DSi XL didn't help my attempts or make it easier and I would have given up if I had played this on the standard DS Lite. Fundamentally there seemed to be a lot of effort on my part whilst playing this game only for it to be unrewarding in its concluision and for me has absolutely no replayability value to it whatsoever.
===Final Thoughts, Price and Rating===
I realise that this review has featured a lot of Professor Layton comparisons but essentially Evacuation Earth is a Layton clone, any 'point and tap' puzzle game will be compared against Layton and clearly the games programmers should have known that this was inevitable. The fact that Doctor Who is so popular to both children and adults alike means that fans of all ages could want to play this game and I cant help but feel disappointed with the playability of the game itself for me personally. I completed the game from start to finish in just under 10 hours over the course of a few days and at no time did I feel challenged, I persevered with the game just to see what would happen at the end and whilst there is no denying that the cut scenes are great to see and that there are nice touches of humour from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan this is a game which I would struggle to recommend to the older game player.
Doctor Who Evacuation Earth was released for the DS back in November 2010 ideally timed for the Christmas-Present buying season and was priced at over £35.00. My wife bought me my copy from Amazon.co.uk for £24.71 which is what it is retailing for at the time of me writing this review and for that price I consider it to be very expensive and over-priced. Adult players who are familiar with the Professor Layton games would be well advised to avoid this if they are expecting a similar gaming experience although younger players may well find the game to be more enjoyable than I did. To be fair the age guidance advice on the box itself is 3+ although I would imagine that really young players would struggle with much of the games content especially as a lot of it is reliant on reading instructions and conversations so realistically I would imagine this would appeal to players above the age of 7.
As far as my rating is concerned 2 stars seems fair to me, the concept and premise is good, the cut scenes nice to see and hear but the puzzles themselves are a complete let-down, for an adult player at least.
Sorry to say, but not recommended.
Thanks for reading, please note that this review originally appeared on ciao under my username