Doctor Who’s spark in comics is finally starting to catch flame. From Doctor Who meets Stark Trek TNG, the Doctor Who 2012 Special, and Doctor Who #1, all from IDW, we’re finally seeing the comic treatment worthy of our favorite Time Lord. In video games, however, the Doctor has seen no such luck. Anyone looking to play a serious Doctor Who game on a game console will either have to travel to the UK or apply some special modifications to their Wii. But it may not actually be worth any of the trouble.
Developer: Asylum Entertainment
Released: Nov. 19, 2010
Platform: Nintendo Wii
There are only a few Doctor Who console titles, none of which have seen American store shelves. Return to Earth picks up where its Nintendo DS predecessor, Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth, left off, with the eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond returning to the abandoned ghost ship, Lucy Grey, where a new whimsical Doctor narrative begins. The story is interesting enough to support a Doctor Who video game, and holds much of the spirit of the series, but the absolute garbage quality of the gameplay is enough to make even the most dedicated Whovians turn off their Wii.
At its core, Return to Earth is a stealth game…I’m not sure why, but it is. All throughout the game, you’re hunting crystals that perform different tasks, like fixing damaged objects for a puzzle, opening doors, and various other chores. Along with these crystals are robots whose line of vision you’ll have to avoid, otherwise it’s game over and back to the checkpoint, because the Doctor can’t do much in terms of fighting back.
To say the least, the game is terribly made. The controls are beyond stiff, and the camera angles are at their worst in crucial situations when sneaking up behind a crystal or a robot. After about the fifth time of getting caught by a robot, you learn you have to work around the game’s terrible aesthetics, instead of the visual laws we’re all used to in a decently made video game. A robot’s range of view is clearly shown with a cone-like peripheral, but making the slightest step in the wrong direction, clear of the robot’s peripheral, will send you back to the checkpoint. Beyond the constant stealth crap, there isn’t much to this game.
The Daleks and Cybermen appear as bosses in the game, which are defeated by solving puzzles with your Wii remote acting as your Sonic Screwdriver. There are a few other game modes that are unlockable, which are just more simple puzzles, none of which are clever or satisfying to complete.
Graphically, the game looks just a tick better than the first Tomb Raider on the PlayStation. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan reprising their roles is nice, and they do a good job, but it’s spoiled by the choppy frame rate of the cutscenes. They’re like watching a YouTube video on a dial-up connection.
Doctor Who: Return to Earth is another perfect example of a rushed license game being carried on nothing more than its brand name. Doctor Who fans aren’t missing anything by forgetting this game exists, and if this is the best we’re going to see of Doctor Who on a console, then it can stay in the UK.
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