Why, oh why, didn’t I listen to soul1350?* He warned me that Destiny of the Doctors was the worst use of a franchise in gaming history, even for a die-hard Doctor Who fan. He said the only good bits involved the full-motion video and the initial feeling of glee at walking around the TARDIS.
“Ah, hell,” I thought. “How bad could it possibly be? I’ve played some pretty crap games in my time, and my adoration for the show should be enough to make the game at least mildly enjoyable, right?
Wrong. Dead goddamned wrong. There is, to go ahead and nip the half-dozen comments I’ll receive in the bud, a very, very good reason this game has been forgotten. Imagine, if you will, a hybrid of first person shooter, puzzler, and adventure game. Now make it friggin’ unplayable and impossible to enjoy. That, in essence, is Destiny of the Doctors.
*Probably because I’m an idiot.
Allow me to point you to this incredibly embarrassing intro video of The Master (played by Anthony Ainley) pretty much explaining the entire plot of the game:
So, basically, The Master has trapped all seven incarnations of the Doctor, and it’s up to some little gooey creature called the Graak to make it through the Master’s challenges and save the Doctor.
Ignoring the idiocy of a Doctor Who game in which one doesn’t actually get to play as the Doctor, the story initially seems rather sound: seven different Doctors means seven different levels where you can solve puzzles, meet classic enemies, and eventually come face-to-face with 3D representations of the old Doctors.
Funny how the word “seems” was in that last sentence, huh?
Each Doctor gets his own level with his own enemy type. First, the player starts out in the Doctor’s TARDIS has to find his way to the Determinant. Then, the player has to solve some puzzles inside the Determinant. Finally, the player returns to the Doctor’s TARDIS and does the whole thing over again with a new Doctor.
In between these three steps, the discerning gamer will find more idiotic gameplay choices, completely dysfunctional game mechanics, and some of the laziest, ugliest level design I’ve ever seen.
Consider, for instance, the fact that the Graak’s hitbox extends about three feet beyond either boundary of the screen. This means that when you’re trying to manuever around, say, an Auton, and you assume you’ll be able to effortlessly pass by it since you can’t, you know, see it onscreen, you’ll actually get stuck and lose about half your hit points because the Graak evidently has a wider ass than Monique. This also makes any simple movement — like, say, turning a friggin’ corner — infinitely more complex than it needs to be.
Or how about all of the levels looking exactly the same? I get that the Doctor’s TARDIS is technically an infinite space, but really — if I wanted to see the same wall textures over and over and over again, I’d play the original Halo.* Every single level takes place within the TARDIS, with nearly indistinguishable differences made to the map layout each time. The only thing which changes are which doors can be opened, the enemy type present, and the path to the Determinant. “Repetitive” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Beyond that, the puzzles are obscure (at one point, the Master very, very quietly hums, like, three notes of a song and you have to not only guess what song it is, but to which country it belongs and what the colors of that country’s flag are), the graphics absolutely abysmal, and the Doctors themselves don’t really show up save for a few short stock footage clips and some new voice-overs recorded by the actors (who sound like they definitely want to be somewhere else).
Add in a completely illogical damage system where you lose more health by crouching for five seconds than you do from getting hit by a Dalek blast, and you’ve got one of the most unplayable, unenjoyable games ever created. And this is coming from a guy who can’t go a month without making some sort of reference to Doctor Who.
Why you’re probably not playing it:
Because you don’t have the excess free time and self-loathing that I do, nor do you find borderline-pathetic glee out of any and everything Who-related. I have to admit, it’s not as if too many people were in danger of seeking out this game and being sorely disappointed by it, but still — just in case there’s some silent, die-hard Who fanatic who hasn’t yet gotten their hands on this game and was considering it, allow me to dissuade you from even thinking about a purchase.
There are only two fun things about this game: seeing a Dalek in 3D, and walking around the 3D TARDIS interior for a few seconds. Both of those things can be easily witnessed in the first video I posted. In other words: if you’re a fan, stay away. If you’re not a fan, be glad you weren’t tempted by this piece of crap in the first place.