We awaited the release of Blood Of The Cyberman(BOTC) with trepidation. City Of The Daleks(COTD), the first game in this particular series, although thin on plot, far exceeded our expectations and BOTC had quite a bit to live up to. By the time it finally arrived we were a bit dubious about what to expect out of this little gaming package. After all, with the exception of a change of foe, how different could the game be?
The game opens with The Doctor and Amy picking up a distress signal coming from a base in the Arctic Circle. They arrive to find that an excavation team has stumbled up a crashed Cyber ship, buried under the ice for 10,000 years but slowly waking up and planning to convert.
The game sees the return of the Cybermats, last seen in the classic series, and the introduction of the somewhat halfbreed Cyber Slaves. It is these foes that the Doctor and Amy must defeat before facing off with the Cybermen themselves in the climax of the game. But enough about the story, what was the game itself like?
The story had a distinctly classic feel to it, lifting many of the main story elements from the Second Doctor serial, Tomb Of The Cybermen, as well as borrowing elements from the newer series', namely the series 5 Silurian two parter, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood.
The start to the game is reletively slow. Once the opening credits have rolled, your first mission is to run around the ice. There is nothing to fight and no skill needed. In the previous adventure, you are thrown right in to the deep end to face the Daleks, but this game spends more time setting up the story, and it takes a while before you have to face any of the Cybermen/mats/slaves. This isnt to say it is less enjoyable, but you kinda feel like you are waiting for the baddies to show their metal faces and get on with it.
The game goes to lengths to give details of Cyber history through the 'Fact' portals on certain objects, though occasionally you find they are just rehashing the same bits of information, but wording them slightly differently.
In terms of the actual gameplay, the graphics sometimes lag, but seem slightly improved up from the first game with the glitches from the first game seemingly being worked upon to improve gameplay. The syncing of the characters while talking was often way off base, which made certain gestures and movements made by the characters seem strange and nonsensical, but I am informed that the production guys know of this and are working on bringing it all into speed so people downloading later versions shouldnt face this issue. The characters are still a little awkward to control, which is a pain when it comes to the stealth aspects of the game and can lead to more deaths of the characters and is particularly annoying during aspects of the game that are timed, so often routes need to be worked out before you do any of the moves needed to escape certain scenarios.
I only found one glitch in the game, and perhaps it is just myself that it happened too, but during the last mini game, an 'exit' icon appeared on the screen, which then stuck around until the end of the game and I couldnt get rid of it. Let us know if this happens to anyone else.
The Cybermen, being one of the Doctors oldest enemies, had a rather brief outing in this game. The majority of the action takes place with the Cybermats and Cyberslaves, with the big bads only really making an appearance towards the end, and even then they dont really do anything of significance. It's a shame really because a lot more could have been done with them which uslitmately would have added an extra level of excitement and suspence. They aren't really even included in the climax to the game, except for a bit of a speech.
Now, onto all the positive stuff. The story, although it has a slow start, builds up and gains momentum at a great pace. It is multi-layored and feels like it would work easily on the screen as an episode of the show itself (although it kind of already has). The music and cut scenes build up a high tension and there is an air of fear built in because you never know what is around the next corner.
Unlike the first game, the Cybers move in random formations, meaning that you have to be on the ball at all times because you never quite know when one will spot you. This is an improvement on the previous game, which saw the Daleks pretty much static for most of the game and easy to get around. BOTC on the other hand, turns the action up a notch and often surprises you with 'deletion' if you aren't careful where you tread. There is a particulary tricky part where you are playing as Amy, trapped in a tiny room, trying to outrun a Cyberslave while also working on an escape and trying to work out where he will walk next. It's a fiddly little peice of gameplay and we found ourselves died a couple of times before completing it, but the harder scenarios are certainly welcome instead of easy gamepla.y
A major plus is that the character interaction in this installment is increased, with extra opportunities to play as the companion, Amy Pond, though on the downside the work she has to carry out is pretty minimal. There is also more interaction with secondary characters, which add a dimension to gameplay that lacked in the previous game (yes we know there was another character in that game, but she died pretty quickly, and these ones stick around to the end). These extra characters make the game seem as though it is on a larger scale with more to play for.
The mini games, although slightly repetitive, are far better than the first game. They arent as fiddly, and require more logic and strategy than the previous installment, which makes completing them seem more worthwhile and rewarding.
There seemed to be more collectable available throughout this game, which is a nice bonus. They are easier to come across in this game, and feature some of the well known characters from the series, and we can't deny the excitement of finding the cards and discovering who we had got. This time around, some of the cards included The 4th Doctor, Sontarans, Donna Noble, River Song and of course Jelly Babies among others.
Overall BOTC impressed us a lot. The atmosphere and tension are there in spades, and although the game starts off slowly, the story itself is much deeper with a better plot and outcome. The nods to classic DW are evident and very appreciated, but there is nothing within the game that would alienate newer fans. Other than a few technical glitches, our only complaint is that there was so little time with the actual Cybermen as apposed to the slaves and mats, and the ending relies more on running away than the logic and gameplay that was needed for the first game. In this one the Doctor works out how to defeat the Cybermen without the need for any gameplay or clues, and the last scene of the game is a timed run out of the excavation, which seemed a little bit of an anticlimax, as the end was more or less completed for you. BOTC is harder to complete and requires more logic and strategy that its Dalek counterpart. This makes the game more interesting as you need to put in that extra bit of effort and means the length of play is extended as it isnt so easy to complete. Whether you are a fan of the Cybermen or not, this is a game that you can get your teeth into and enjoy without needing an extensive knowledge about the history of the metal villains.
The Doctor In The Tardis gives Blood Of The Cybermen 4/5