After two brilliant games released over the last few months by the BBC, TARDIS had a lot to live up to. The thought of a game set entirely in the Doctors Time Travelling machine was one that got many people excited, and knowing it was being written by James Moran, who wrote episodes for the series including The Fires of Pompeii upped the anti even more. So it pains me to say that TARDIS is a MASSIVE dissapointment.
After a big build up, and with all the promise and story that could be used, TARDIS was both thin on plot and pretty nonsensical. I will start with an overview of the game, then explain my reasoning.
TARDIS starts off with the Doctor being sucked out of the tardis in a riptide in time and space. You start the game off playing as Amy, who needs to find her way to the Drawing Room to find components for a tractor beam that will bring the doctor back on board. While on her hunt, she breaks a vase containing The Entity, who plans to feed on Amy's history in order to survive.
After rescuing the Doctor, a burst of energy seperates the Doctor and Amy, meaning they are both inside the TARDIS, but a thousand years apart. It is at this point that you take over as the Doctor to find components that will help get a message to Amy in the future, in order to get her to push a button to bring them back together.
Flip back to playable Amy where you have to answer a Doctor Who themed quiz in order to activate the message left by the Doctor in the past. Once the button is pressed and Amy and the Doctor are back together, The Entity appears. The Doctor reasons with it to stop feeding on Amy, to which it eventually obliges, and you then have to start the TARDIS and dematerialise.
The end of the game sees you land in the 23rd century after the Great Flood of London. The Doctor and Amy are in a tunnel, akin to those at Sea World, where an alien like whale swims by before it cuts to the credits. This is probably, though not deffinately, a lead in to the fourth and final game.
James Moran wrote the script for the game and it seems he had a potential good idea before deciding to make it as plain and unexciting as possible. Instead of writing a plot that would make sense and draw the player in, he stuffed it full of technobabble and gumph in what appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to disguise the fact that the plot made no sense at all and offered little in the way of gameplay. It seems that his idea for the villain was potentially a great one, but with no idea how to introduce it and with no attempt to tell us anything about it, he wrapped a nonsensical story around it just for the sake of having it appear. You dont even get to interact with it as a player. No fighting or outsmarting. Nothing. The only interaction is during movie mode where the Doctor has a bit of a chinwag with it.
The Entity, as it is known, is a glowing orange orb that eats a persons history. But that is all we know. Don't get me wrong, a little bit of mystery is always a good thing, but for the main protagonist of the game, something that is coming from inside the TARDIS itself, we should at least know where the Doctor got it from, why he had it, how long for etc. Add to that the fact that all it really does is make Amy glow a little bit, and the whole point of it becomes, well, pointless. You dont even get to outwit it or fight it or anything. The Doctor just talks it into not sucking Amy's history away. Yippee! We win!
As for the bits in between, well they don't really add to the game and they dont do anything for the plot. Having several ideas for a plot and then hammering them together does not a good game make. The usual puzzles are there, but nothing that we havent already seen before, and the few weak ideas that are in place do nothing for proper game play. Nothing to fight. Nothing to work out. Nothing to keep you awake. You literally run between two rooms for 90% of the game picking up objects and setting them back down somewhere else, and the bits of the game that could have been really interesting, were played out for you in movie mode.
I felt myself becoming frequently frustrated by the small scale of the game, and running around only to find myself back where I started. Unlike the previous games where the plots were constantly advancing and you were in and out of rooms, avoiding attacks and taking out bad guys, this game seemed more suited to very young children. The biggest adventure either character has is matching up the blue and yellow wires on the console.
I cannot begin to tell you how dissapointed I am with the whole interior of the TARDIS. I realise games like this arent cheap to make, but the whole thing was small and squashed as compactly as possible. We are offered at least 4 different stairways to adventure down, but only one actually takes you somewhere. The rest lead right back to the console. I would have been happy with a broom cupboard. Anything else, but they let a great opportunity pass them by.
The Drawing room is nicely realised, and it is full of artifacts that the Doctor has picked up across many years and incarnations, but there is so little to do in there that it makes the additional room seem a little pointless. Depsite the Doctor giving Amy directions to and from it, you just appear in the room without so much as a hint of corridor to explore, which is very frustrating (moreso when you go up and down the wrong stairs and end up back where you started).
The controls this time around seemed harder to navigate than before. This is made worse by the fact that there is hardly any room to move. The area around the console is so tightly packed that it is hard to get around it, which is more of a pain when you are on a timed challenge to start the TARDIS. The characters this time though seemed more clumsy. Despite how softly you try to manouvre them, they still bumped into things, went faster/further than they should etc. This wouldnt be so bad if the camera angles wouldnt switch at the slightest movement, making interaction with objects that much more difficult.
The challenges within this game are pretty much the same as the others. You have a coloured wire one (again), an electrical maze (again) and one where you move levers (again), though at least the levers are on the TARDIS, which makes it look a little different.
One new challenge in this game however is the quiz. Ten questions covering the TV series from 1963 through 2010. Unless you have reasonably good knowledge of the show, it is worth going around and reading all the trivia, because they hold all the answers to the questions. The questions themselves are pretty basic, but people without knowledge of the classic series could get stuck here, and if you get an answer wrong it sends you back to the beginning and you have to start all over again, though its the same questions every time.
The final challenge is a timed one. The Doctor has only 60 seconds to launch the TARDIS and you have to guess the right buttons to press and levers to pull. Its relatively simple but for the fact that with the squashed in space it is hard to run around to the different areas of the console, and the moving camera angles mean that even if you are stood in the right place, it might not register that you need to use the console and so you have to move around to get it just right. It took me three tries before I could finally do it.
There arent many collectables this time around. I picked up 4, but I could have missed some. Captain Jack, The First Doctor, Nasreen and a licorice jellybaby were the ones I found.
TARDIS dissapoints on so many levels, which in itself is really disspointing. Unlike its two predecessors, this game lacks the adventure, excitement and mystery that made the others so fun. The plot is so thin it could tear at any minute, and by the end of it I felt quite cheated. It was done and over with in 25 minutes, which is considerably shorter than the other games, and by the end I was left wondering why I had bothered. There was no sense of achievement in it at all. I really hoped that I would be writing a glowing review that would make people want to play, but the most exciting thing about this game was the lead in for the next game, which filled up 30 seconds at the end. The story was weak, the TARDIS was wasted, the enemy was pointless and the whole thing seemed like a rushed, jumbled mess that a fan could have made, and done a better job of. James Moran lets himself down with a barely there plot, excess techno babble and a bad script. I only hope that the next game delivers more in the way of gameplay and enjoyability because I doubt I would play this one again. TARDIS gets 3/10 from me.