The Doctor always receives the shitty end of a briode nebuliser when he’s represented in computer games. You can’t just modify Quake and throw in Dalek skins or tweak Half-Life’s headcrabs to look like cybermats! Well you can, but that doesn’t emulate an authentic Doctor Who experience.
Have you ever played on an Amiga or a Commodore 64? Well there was this platformer called Dalek Attack where player one is the Doctor/Professor and player two is the trusty companion. As you can see from the following Youtube clip, the intro is ice cold.
Right at the end of that clip (where the Professor enters the TARDIS) you can choose your incarnation: Troughton (bumbling black-haired clown), Baker (the popular cosmic hobo) or McCoy (Mr Umbrella and spoons extraordinaire). However, the in-game cutscenes assume that you’re the seventh Doc, McCoy, and that just seems odd if you’ve just finished a level with one of the other guys. Sadly, for me, you can’t pick Davison.
By now you can gather that the Daleks are the threat and that Davros is the main villain, or boss, leading the menace. Admittedly, the comic style cutscenes are cool (rather like bowties) but that’s about all the praise I have left for this disappointing and frustrating title.
You’ll roam the streets and dodge Dalek lasers, but instead of relying on intelligent counters to deal with your adversaries you’ll retaliate with the Doctor’s trusty sonic screwdriver. A sonic screwdriver that shoots silver bullets! Oh yeah and there’s the hover booth things you have to guide through sewers to free people and blast what I assume are mutants from Skaro as well.
You can find Dalek Attack online and play it via DOSBox, but it is more entertaining to watch the clips that are available on Youtube.
Since Dalek Attack there have been other computer game attempts. I’ve seen several versions of Robots! Or Daleks where each time you move the Doctor the Daleks can move. Oh look, here’s one of many Robots! clones.
The aim is to trick the Daleks into colliding with each other. I played one of these on the Amiga and it was very simple but very good. It involved similar gameplay and you had to collect a key and then return to your TARDIS to dematerialise, only to rematerialise at the next level. If the Doctor gets hurt he regenerates. So you have seven lives before the game is over.
And then there’s the Top Trumps game. Meh.
The most recent computer games in the franchise involve Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor. I haven’t played any of these yet but they all appear to be mini action adventures for kids.
As a connoisseur of graphics and gameplay, I’m waiting for the ultimate Doctor Who game. Due to the epic mythologies and inconsistencies that comprise the Whoniverse, I don’t think it’s possible to design something that will appease all fans, let alone be be something that’s playable. Yes, a true Doctor Who game would be an impossible project for any game developer to work on. An open world would be too much.
With all of this in mind, my perfect Doctor Who game would be a role playing game. Forget shooters; it doesn’t matter how many Sontarans are on the screen, the Doctor is not Max Payne.
Our ancient Time Lord is intelligent and wise, mostly. He cons his companions into being his own weapons (let them be Max Payne!). A Dragon Age clone, or equivalent, would suffice. The party system would be sweet. The Doc searches for traps and tries diplomatic options with people rather than forcing him to hold a bazooka. Let the companions face off against ranks of Draconians—imagine Ace cooking her nitro-9 or Jamie performing a stealth kill with his dagger. See, now that’s acceptable violence.
Then there’s the issue with the TARDIS. What do you do? Is it broken or has it vanished for the sake of a simple plot? Or do you allow access to the control room but limit the functions of the console?
Again, we fall back to these questions that can render a potential game far too complex. A MMORPG like WoW would be incredible. Right now Star Wars fans are excited about The Old Republic with its promise of starships and planets and hours and hours of spoken dialogue. Could Doctor Who also become an online sensation? Who knows?