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A Free Doctor Who Game
Following the success of the previous installment, City of the Daleks, BBC Worldwide and SUMO Digital have pulled another classic Doctor Who monster from an immense arsenal to be the main villain of this new game.
This latest Doctor Who game joins its predecessor as a free release from the BBC if you live in the UK – meanwhile any PC gamers around the world that wish to play this family adventure game should head on over to www.direct2drive.com, where Doctor Who: The Adventure Games – Blood of the Cybermen can be purchased for just $4.95!
City of the Daleks was an interesting new way to play Doctor Who games following 25 years of misfires across various platforms – so how does Blood of the Cybermen fare, sitting within the same format and powered by the same game engine?
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The full minimum system requirements for a PC running Blood of the Cybermen (and the full Doctor Who: The Adventure Games series) are as follows:
OS: Windows XP (with Service Pack 2), Vista, Windows 7
CPU: Intel Pentium4 1.6 GHz+ or AMD Sempron 2800 + or higher
RAM: Windows XP and Windows 7 require only - 512 MB, while Windows Vista is listed as requiring 1GB
HDD: 2GB at least, with additional required
Sound and graphics should be Direct X 9 compatible, while the GFX card should have at least 128 MB memory with Pixel Shader 2.0 or above capability, allowing for scalability across different system specs.
The game is also compatible with Intel Macs.
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Gameplay and Controls
This time around, gameplay shifts from the terrors of a Dalek-infested Earth to a desolate Arctic base. Here, the Cybermen have been awoken after millennia buried under the ice.
Cybermen are an alien race of steel soldiers, with human origins. They have long been enemies of the Doctor, who has repeatedly foiled their attempts to convert mankind and conquer the Earth.
By taking control of the Doctor and Amy, your task is to rescue the sole survivor of the base from a skidoo accident, develop an antidote to the Cybermen's nano-conversion technique and ultimately rescue Amy from the invaders spaceship below the ice.
Using the traditional keyboard and mouse combination, the gameplay in this Doctor Who game switches between stealth movement, investigating the environment, and small mini-games that fit into the game as small technical challenges such as using a microscope, or the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver to open a door or repairing some electronics.
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Graphics, Sound, and Matt Smith Voice Acting!
As with the first installment, City of the Daleks, Blood of the Cybermen features the stars of Doctor Who, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as the voices of the Doctor and Amy Pond. This adds a layer of familiarity to the game, and the addition of the regular “voice of the monsters”, Nicholas Briggs, makes the Cybermen sound and feel authentic. Also on board as vital supporting cast members are Sarah Douglas (Superman II) and Barnaby Edwards.
Graphically, there is no change to the game world from that seen in City of the Daleks; the same game engine is used, and movement and physics remain the same. However as with City of the Daleks, the beauty is with the in-game character and environmental design. The Cyberman spaceship looks superb, as does the CyberController “boss” character, while the CyberSlaves – partly converted humans – are well-realized. Their single minded ambling towards their target is quite unnerving.
The sound effects in the game are fine, and again should be familiar to viewers of Doctor Who. Interestingly there remains a slight out-of-sync speech problem in cut scenes.
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A Competent Sequel
As the second release of the BBC’s series of free Doctor Who games, Blood of the Cybermen had the difficult task of replicating the success of City of the Daleks while presenting a game world where the variations on the same mini-games and stealth movement can be re-used without seeming repetitive.
Having played from beginning to end in one sitting, I would say that SUMO Digital were successful in this aim – however it could be argued that the difficulty level has been lowered for this release. The vocal performances this time around seem more assured, however, and it's great to hear Matt Smith's voice as the Doctor, especially as the series is currently off-air.
My proof? Well, I still haven’t completed the previous game!
Despite this, Blood of the Cybermen has all of the elements that made the previous game a success, and for fans of the series it is well worth playing.