Friday, April 8, 2011

Shadows of the Vashta Nerada Review

The final episode of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games series one starts right where the last episode left off.  But, does it continue on the high notes hit with the previous episode, or does it fall flat?

I was excited about this episode when it was announced.  The Vashta Nerada are among my favorite Doctor Who monsters, and their television story, the two part episode "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" was one of the most nerve wracking episodes I've seen.  The creatures are shadows who lurk in the darkness, feed on the living, and can possess the suits of their victims alowing them to move about in a zombie-like fashion.  They are unbeatable, with only light as their weakness.  This seemed like a great idea for a video game, and one that would make great use of the stealth gameplay introduced in the first episode.  In reality, it comes close to my expectations but it's let down a bit by it's seemingly rushed state.

The story is great, and is one that could have easily have been told in the television programme.  The voice acting has been getting better with each episode, and it is very good here.  Only a scene where the Doctor and Amy were laughing felt forced this time, the rest of the voice acting flowed naturally.  The new characters are voiced well as well. I especially liked the supercomputer, who the Doctor bonded with after he made a funny remark about the computer's mundane duties. The music and sound effects are excellent as always.  The score from the main series is used here to great effect as usual.

The whole episode takes place in an underwater facility, but there is surprisingly a great deal of variety in the locations.  The episode takes place during Christmas, since the BBC wanted to launch both the television christmas special "A Christmas Carol" and this video game episode on the same day.  So, when you're running throughout the tunnels, you'll find rooms decorated with Christmas decorations along with the plain blue-grey rooms. 

The fact that this episode was out in time for Christmas is the main reason it failed to live up to it's expectations.  The game felt rushed.  There were actually parts of the game where I fell through the floor and respawned at the entrance of the room.  I didn't encounter any game-breaking bugs, but it's a shame that bugs as serious as this crept up into an otherwise fun episode.  There also weren't a lot of puzzles this time around, and the ones that were there were repeated often.  The game mostly was comprised of the stealth-like gameplay where the Doctor and Amy had to keep out of the shadows.  I found this gameplay fun, if a bit overused, but I would have liked to have seen a variety of puzzles beyond the door puzzles that we've seen before.  The last episode had a new puzzle that brought used the fun facts in gameplay.  It would have been great to have seen something like that here as well.

The story part of Shadows of the Vashta Nerada is a great continuation of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games.  The gameplay is a bit of a mixed bag though.  The puzzles are overused, and consisted of mainly door puzzles we've seen before.  The stealth gameplay was fun, but it too became a bit tedious with overuse.  The bugs present in this episode are the biggest concern.  While none of the bugs were game-breaking, they were enough to take me out of the game.  If you're a Doctor Who fan, Shadows of the Vashta Nerada is worth playing, but the fact that the game feels rushed makes it difficult to recommend the game to anyone else.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

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