Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth Review (NDS)

Evacuation Earth on DS

Evacuation Earth on DS

What’s it about?

Arriving on Earth only hours before a Solar Storm is due to wipe out all life on the planet, the Doctor and his companion discover the last group of humans preparing to evacuate. No sooner have they arrived then the TARDIS disappears and they embark on a mission to recover it …

Review it:

You may be aware that I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan (cancel understatement mode) and have been since I can remember. Doctor Who games have always been few and far between, and none up until last year have really captured the heart of the show. The recent adventure games have stepped away from that trend and so I was quite pleased to open both this game and it’s Wii counterpart on Christmas day…

Game Engine

Encountering some old friends...

Encountering some old friends...

The story of the game is interesting enough. Following on from events in the Wii Game, The Doctor and Amy arrive on Earth before the ship they encountered has left the planet. There, they must recover the TARDIS which has been utilised by the crew in the construction of the space ship. In order to get their ship back, the two heroes must help the crew of the ship to escape the planet before the Solar flares hit. As the ship launches, it transpires there are some unwanted guests underneath the ship and finally, a Dalek Shuttle (the same one from the Wii game, no less!) shows up to threaten the ship too…

Sound in the game is superb. The menu has the new Doctor Who theme in all it’s glory and sometimes I waited on the menu just to hear it through. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are present to provide their voices to the game, though this is limited to the cut-scenes that begin each of the four chapters and the epilogue of the game. Other sounds and music in the game are pleasant, though I did find myself turning the “in-puzzle” theme down during my long sessions doing sliding puzzles.

Graphically,the game is adequate, with miniature Matt, Karen and other characters popping on screen to deliver their lines. It’s poor Karen Gillan who comes off worst in these representations though, as in many of them she looks nothing like her self. Then again, one of the Silurians that make an appearance appears to have no neck and an oddly angled head – so it could be worse.

The backgrounds in the game are quite detailed when you look at them, with some nice references back to the last series of the show. I played the game on a DS Lite and a DSi XL to see how it looked at different sizes and I think the game came off well. Though the render-lines were slightly more apparent on the XL, the detail was not harmed by the resolution being applied to a larger screen.

There’s at least one old-school Who reference too near the end of the game. There was a repeating graphical glitch that I encountered later in the game that was a little annoying – when characters popped in and out of shot for their lines, they were accompanied by a white flash. It was as if the animators had cut a frame’s content but left the frame itself in place.

Gameplay

The first of many puzzles...

The first of many puzzles...

The game plays as a story interspersed with puzzles to solve. Anyone familiar with Professor Layton will know what to expect. The game is controlled exclusively by the Stylus – items you possess are accessed via an icon of The Doctor’s Jacket; a footstep icon is used to move between locations and a TARDIS icon takes you to the menus. Non-Story puzzles are accessed by tapping areas of interest on the screen.

Unfortunately it’s the implementation of the Stylus that lets the game down. On the main adventure screen, I repeatedly found myself tapping the screen only for the stylus to register a tap elsewhere. Sometimes it was close to my tap – but other times it was over the other side of the screen. I re-callibrated the DS twice, so don’t think it was that! Also, when in puzzles that require a drag-and-drop mechanism, the stylus would pick up the wrong piece – either one that was underneath the tapped one, or sometimes one that was off to the side. Not game breaking – but certainly annoying.

The puzzles are simple affairs, clearly aimed at the 6-11 year old market. The only puzzles that offer any challenge of more than twenty seconds are the slide-puzzles, of which there are only two. Alongside the various puzzles are three types of mini-game: A drag the ball through an obstacle course game; create a path from arrows and corners game; finally there’s a lock-picking reflex game that’s straight out of Oblivion! Once a puzzle has been completed, it can be re-done from the game’s main menu.

Overall

While short, and pretty simple, the game is fun and the glitches it has are more annoying than game breaking. I’d recommend it to fans of Doctor Who of any age as quite a good Who game with a relatively interesting story. Obviously Asylum have aimed this at the primary school market which seems somewhat short sighted and I’d highly recommend it for this audience.

Buy / Rent / Avoid: A definite rental but puzzles may add replay value for younger gamers.
Rate it: 3 / 5 – A short but fun game,
Dry Slaps: 1 / 5 -A couple of glitches and some shoddy touch screen flaws.
Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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