Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 01 November 2014. Last updated on 02 November 2014.
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Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot
The Doctor appears unfazed by the appearance of a dimensional lesion inside the TARDIS.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot
Rory is dispatched by the Doctor to retrieve his sonic screwdriver.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot
Amy notices a flickering torch that hints at a secret passageway nearby.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot
The Sontarans accuse Rory of conspiring with the Rutans.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: the Gunpowder Plot
The Doctor meets the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot.

The game is available at GamersGate.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games

The series is comprised of 5 episodes:

Episode One: City of the Daleks

Episode Two: Blood of the Cybermen

Episode Three: TARDIS

Episode Four: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada

Episode Five: The Gunpowder Plot

There are hardly any sci-fi fans who have not heard of Doctor Who. Created originally as a television series by BBC in 1963, Doctor Who is now the longest (though not continuous) running sci-fi television show of all time. In Series 6 (2011) of the show, the Doctor is played by Matt Smith, and his travelling companions Amy (Amelia) Pond and Rory Williams (Mr. Pond) are played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill respectively. Commissioned by the BBC, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is an episodic game series developed by Sumo Digital originally as downloadable games to supplement the show in the UK. The games have since been made available worldwide, published by BBC Wales Interactive. Episode Five: The Gunpowder Plot is the fifth and final episode of the series. It also differs from previous episodes of the series that take place in the Series 5 of the show.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is a third-person point-and-click adventure where you take on the protagonist roles of the Doctor and his companions Amy and Rory. In this episode, the Doctor lands the TARDIS in China during the Liao Dynasty to pick up Amy and Rory who have gone for Chinese takeout. After a hostile reception at the Liao Palace which Amy and Rory quickly discover not to be a restaurant, they hastily retreat back to the TARDIS and escape with the Doctor. Upon leaving, however, the TARDIS collides with an unidentified spaceship (which turns out to be a Rutan spaceship), causing a dimensional lesion inside it. While repairing the lesion, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves unknowingly arrived in London in 1605. Meanwhile, the Rutans send out a distress signal from their spaceship, which the Sontarans (who are at war with the Rutans) intercept and trace back to London. As the Doctor is busy trying to fix other dimensional lesions appearing elsewhere in London, he sends Amy and Rory off to locate the Rutan spaceship. After sneaking through a maze of tunnels beneath the Houses of Parliament, Amy and Rory eavesdrop by accident on a conversation between the conspirators of the infamous Gunpowder Plot who are discussing their plan to blow up the parliament. It is now up to the Doctor, Amy, and Rory to infiltrate the conspirators and foil their assassination plot, all the while devising a plan to stop the war between the Rutans and the Sontarans that will also destroy London.

Downloading and installing the game is straightforward without any glitches. The game does not include a separate game manual. After creating a player profile, you are presented with the Main Menu from which you can select Play, Options, Help, or Quit. In the Options menu, you can select Controls, Display, Sound (including Subtitles), or Change Player. Once the game begins, if you are ever stuck, you can talk to Amy or Rory who will always provide a helpful clue on what you need to do or where you need to go next. If you are still stuck, you can also use the Esc key to get help on the immediate objective. There are no save game slots to make manual saves. Rather, after each milestone has been reached, an auto save is made by the game. If you want to return to the game later, you can use the available auto saves to do so. Unlike the previous episodes, this episode is not divided into discrete acts.

Gameplay is mainly targeted at casual adventure gamers who are also fans of the show. Navigation is done by using both the mouse and the keyboard. I find it easiest to use the keyboard to walk and the mouse to turn or pan. Compared to previous episodes, this episode is by far the longest. There are more locations to explore, more characters to interact with, and more puzzles to solve. The episode is strictly linear, in which set objectives must be completed before the game can progress. You get to play as the Doctor, Amy, and even Rory in the game. During stealth mode, you are automatically crouched down when the enemies are near. If you ever get caught by the Rutans and the Sontarans, you will restart from the last autosave checkpoint to try again. Unlike previous episodes, there are no hidden collectable cards to collect. Instead, you can find hidden artifacts that give educational facts about life in the Jacobean era, the feud between the Catholics and the Protestants during this turbulent period of English history, and the early structure of the British parliamentary system.

The plot is that of a typical episode of Doctor Who as seen on television. Although many of the details may make most sense to only diehard fans of the show, the story is sufficient to almost survive as a standalone adventure. Unlike previous episodes that follow the television show in their length, this episode is long enough to be comparable to a full feature film. While the game expectedly takes artistic liberty in the details of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, all of the major conspirators, including Sir Robert Catesby (the leader of the plot), Guido Fawkes (Guy Fawkes), Thomas Percy, Lord Salisbury, and William Parker (Baron Monteagle) are featured in the game's story. The game also features many London historical landmarks such as the London Bridge and the Duck and Drake pub. Both the Rutans and the Sontarans have appeared in previous television episodes of Doctor Who.

The character models for the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are instantly recognizable and closely resemble the actors who portray them respectively. According to the developer, the characters are animated using rotoscope technique where actors' movements are captured and animators then trace over their footages frame by frame. Built using the proprietary Immersion engine, the interior of the TARDIS also looks like that from the television show. The spacious outdoor London is impressively modeled, detailing the period architecture of the buildings and even the cobblestone streets. Likewise, the period costumes are accurately modeled in great detail. The game features the familiar opening Doctor Who theme composed by Ron Grainer as well as the voices of Smith, Gillan, and Darvill playing their own roles. As in the television show, Smith and Darvill speak with a very English accent whereas Gillan speaks with a broad Scottish accent. Lip synchronization is very good. The voice acting for the other characters are also well done. There are a lot of dialog in this game. Ambient music, ranging from light orchestral to dramatic, is present throughout. Sound effects are aptly done.

The puzzles are interesting and varied. They range from stitching up portal lesions to activating a cannon to making a sleeping potion, among others. None of the mini-games in this episode are recycled from previous episodes.

In sum, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Five: The Gunpowder Plot is a most enjoyable game. While fans of Doctor Who will undoubtedly relish the experience, non-fans of the show will also likely gain some pleasure playing the game. Compared to previous computer games featuring Doctor Who, this game is definitely among the better adaptations of the franchise.

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