REVIEW: "Destiny of the Doctors" CD-ROM

by Z1R0
18 July 1998


RATING: 5 (of 10)


_Doctor Who: The Destiny of the Doctors_, 
(London : BBC Multimedia, 1997), PC CD-ROM.

[Image of Cover]


SYNOPSIS

     _Destiny of the Doctors_ is a 3-D computer game for PCs.  The 
game is set in the orbit of the planet 'Siralos' which is 
described as "one of the Seven Thousand Wonders of the Galaxy," 
presumably because it is composed entirely of psychic energy.  
This energy has been tapped into by the Master, who has used it to 
physically merge his TARDIS with the Doctor's and, in turn, 
capture the first seven incarnations of the Doctor by scooping 
them out of their respective time streams.  The Doctor's 
incarnations are held by the Master at the far end of a vast 
combat arena known as the 'Determinant' which the Master created 
by reifying his imagination using the psychic energy of Siralos.  
The Master built the Determinant to provide himself with 
amusement, and to taunt any would-be rescuer of the Doctor with a 
series of challenges.  The player takes on the role of 'Graak,' an 
energy-dependent, amorphous plasma matrix with telepathic links to 
the Doctor.  The player's mission is to release each incarnation 
of the Doctor, one at a time.
     The player begins in the console room of the Doctor's TARDIS 
and has to wind their way through the corridors to find an access 
point to the 'Great Divide,' the interface between the TARDIS and 
the Determinant.   Various monsters block the player's passage 
through the corridors during this search (Cybermen, Yeti, Autons, 
Silurians, Ice Warriors, or Daleks).  Once the Great Divide is 
found, a player selects one of five 'Mind-Lock' symbols.  Four of 
the symbols lead to instructions given by the Master to either 
solve a riddle or complete a task.  The fifth (known as the 
'Blast' symbol) will take the player directly to the Determinant 
for a challenge, but at a loss of considerable energy points.  If 
a player opts for one of the Master's four riddles/tasks, the 
player is transported to an environment within the Doctor's and the
Master's merged TARDIS.  The environment is populated by a 
group of one of ten monsters who will attempt to prevent the 
player's success (Autons, Cybermen, Daleks, Ice Warriors, Quarks, 
Sea Devils, Silurians, Sontarans, Yeti, or Zygons).  When the 
riddle is solved or task accomplished, the player must again find 
an access point to the Great Divide.  Here, the player proves that 
they have solved the riddle or completed the task.  If the Master 
is satisfied, the player is finally transported to the Determinant 
where they face a challenge and attempt to rescue the Doctor.  The 
seven challenges are:

1) Celestial Toyroom maze (w/ Quarks)
2) race between underground trains (w/ Yeti) 
3) dogfight with a Dalek spaceship
4) Doctor's brain maze (w/ a Raston Warrior Robot)
5) joust against a Sontaran 
6) flight through an ice world (the Mars polar ice cap?)
7) race between motorcars (w/ Autons)

If the player prevails against the challenge and rescues the 
Doctor, they are returned to the console room of the Doctor's 
TARDIS.  There the player starts the process over and attempts to 
rescue another incarnation of the Doctor.  Once all seven 
incarnations have been rescued, the player faces a final challenge 
from the Master.  
     All of this is being attempted as energy points are being 
drained away by the player's activities.  Energy points can be 
replenished by finding 'power rods' (blue crystals from Metebelis 
Three).  
     Data on the weaknesses of various monsters can be obtained 
either in the 'Monster Database' (located in the Master's TARDIS) 
or the Doctor's TARDIS Log, also known as the 'City of 
Thoughts' (accessible from the Doctor's Console Room).  Other 
clues are provided at various points.  The corridors contain 
'psychic links' -- glowing energy matrices that enable the player 
to communicate telepathically with the Doctor.  The player can 
locate and use a radio to get information from the Brigadier back 
at UNIT HQ on Earth.  The Master's riddle/task instructions also 
contain useful clues.  
     Game play can be saved both upon entering a riddle/task 
environment or upon entering the Doctor's console room once a 
a riddle/task has been completed.  Saving a game is accomplished 
by the use of a 'Time Winder' which creates a 'Time Dam,' 
stopping the action.


REVIEW

     It has been a long hiatus since the last commercial Doctor 
Who-oriented computer game was released:   _Dalek Attack_ 
(Alternative, 1992).  PC  technology has improved dramatically in 
that time, to include advances in gaming design. One would think 
the addition of advances like a 3-D gaming engine and .mov video 
files would have seen to it that _Destiny of the Doctors_ was a 
considerable improvement over an older 2-D arcade-style game like 
_Dalek Attack_.  Unfortunately, this reviewer does not believe 
that _Destiny of the Doctors_ is an improvement -- quite the 
opposite, in fact.  I have played _Dalek Attack_ fairly regularly 
since its release, and have yet to tire of it.  On the other hand, 
I have played through all 28 riddle/task environments and 7 
challenges of _Destiny of the Doctors_, and will probably never 
play it again.  It isn't that I've "finished" _Destiny of the 
Doctors_ either -- I've never managed to rescue more than five of 
the Doctors in a row, and have therefore never faced the Masters 
final challenge.  (I haven't ever finished _Dalek Attack_ 
either -- I've never managed to get past the New York level.  My 
high score is just under 80,000.  And, no, I don't use cheats.).  
So what is my objection to _Destiny of the Doctors_?:  CONTINUITY.   
The game deviates considerably from the facts established by the 
original television series.  Specifically, it attempts to create 
new methods for temporarily disabling, deactivating, or killing 
the Doctor's monster foes.
     First consider how Graak most easily deals with the various 
monsters that he confronts.  In almost every instance it is simply 
easier to have Graak run around them.  This doesn't exactly make 
for exciting game-play.  
     When Graak does choose to confront a monster and either 
temporarily immobilize, deactivate, or kill them; the game employs 
many methods that have absolutely no precedence in series history.  
The most obvious is the use of the sonic screwdriver to 
temporarily immobilize many of the monsters.  (I admit that the 
use of the sonic screwdriver as a weapon to kill in _Dalek Attack_ 
is even more disappointing).  To my recollection (such that it is) 
I can recall only one series use of the sonic screwdriver in an 
offensive capacity against any of the ten monsters one encounters 
in _Destiny of the Doctors_.  In _The Sea Devils_ the Doctor uses 
the sonic screwdriver to set off land mines to blow up Sea Devils.  
Note that the sonic screwdriver was not used directly against the 
Sea Devils themselves, as the game would have Graak use it, but 
indirectly.
     Consider other methods used by Graak to temporary immobilize 
a monster.  Yeti are temporarily immobilized via oil from an oil 
can.  Zygons are temporarily immobilized by a ticking clock.  
Neither, to my recollection, have any precedence in series 
history.
     Consider methods used by Graak for killing or deactivating 
some of the monsters.  Quarks are deactivated via fire 
extinguishers or a water pistol, the contents of either being 
unknown.  Sea Devils are killed by dissolving a power rod (a blue 
crystal from Metebelis Three) in water to create an electrolyte 
solution and then waiting for the Sea Devils to fire their weapon, 
hence causing electrocution.  Sontarans are killed via multiple 
bee stings from an angry hive.  Again, none of these methods have 
any precedence in series history.
     I would have much preferred to see the game stay within the 
facts established by the series, and not wander so far afield in 
search of new vulnerabilities for the monsters.  Why not use, 
instead, those methods of temporary immobilization, deactivation, 
and killing that were established in the series?  There are plenty 
to choose from.  Here are my personal suggestions:

Autons
     The established method of deactivating an Auton is to destroy 
the Nestine Consiousness (_Spearhead From Space_).

Cybermen
     The game employs a fire extinguisher to kill Cybermen.  In 
this instance, at least, there is a precedence in the series for 
this method.  In _The Moonbase_, Ben and Polly mix together a 
formula of benzine and other solvents that are corrosive to 
plastic.  Ben then puts the formula in a fire extinguisher and 
they spray it into the chest units of the Cybermen preventing them 
from breathing.  This method is used only on this one occasion 
and, because episodes one and three of _The Moonbase_ are missing, 
not everyone may be familiar with this storyline.  In fact, I had 
to be reminded of this myself while writing this review.  A more 
logical choice would have been the well-established use of gold to 
clog the chest unit of a Cyberman, first established in _Revenge 
of the Cybermen_.  The delivery method has many variations: hand-
thrown gold powder, glitter guns, gold badges for mathematical 
excellence, gold arrows, gold coins launched via slingshot,  etc.  

Daleks
     The game got this one right.  One kills a Dalek using a 
Dalekanium bomb.  Another more unique possibility that I would 
have found personally satisfying on a tactile level would be to 
use a baseball bat modified by the Hand of Omega (_Remembrance of 
the Daleks_). 

Ice Warriors
     In the series, heat was most often used to immobilize or kill 
the Ice Warriors.  One of the more blatant ways of delivering heat 
for this purpose was the heat ray used by the miners on Peladon 
(_The Monster of Peladon_).

Quarks
     The established method of deactivating Quarks is to destroy 
the Dominator ship from which they derive their power (_The 
Dominators_).

Sea Devils
     The best method to kill a Sea Devil would have to be 
hexachromite gas ( _Warriors of the Deep_).  Note that the jamming 
device created by the Doctor for use against the Sea Devils (_The 
Sea Devils_) makes a token appearance in the game as an object to 
be recovered in a task set by the Master.  Unfortunately this 
device cannot be used against the Sea Devils in game play.

Silurians
     Again, the best method to kill a Silurian would also be 
hexachromite gas (_Warriors of the Deep_).

Sontarans
     To kill a Sontaran, one could attack their probic vent, as 
first established in _The Time Warrior_, using either an arrow, 
knife, or blow from a blunt object.  Another option would be to 
use Choronic acid (_The Two Doctors_).  Yet a third option would be 
to use a Demat gun, though such a weapon would theoretically take 
out just about any foe.

Yeti
     The game deactivates Yeti by removing their control spheres 
via the use of a suspended electro-magnet.  Removal of the control 
sphere is an established method of deactivating a Yeti (_The 
Abominable Snowmen_), and though an electro-magnet was never used, 
it does seem feasible.  Still, I would prefer to see Yeti 
deactivated by the banishing of the Great Intelligence to the 
Astral Plane (_Abominable Snowmen_).

Zygons
     The Zygons only appear in one serial, and the only 
particularly unique method used to kill a Zygon was impalement on 
a pitchfork (_Terror of the Zygons_).

     So, what did they get right in _Destiny of the Doctors_?  The 
.mov video files with Anthony Ainley as the Master come immediately 
to mind.  These are available for direct play off of the CD-ROM, by 
the way, and are alone worth the purchase price.  His performances 
are exquisitely evil.  I found myself hoping to get quickly 
through the druggery of the various Determinant challenges just so 
I could make it to the Ainley .mov file at the end.  Mind you, I 
was often tempted to play poorly so I could lose and be taunted by 
the loser .mov!  Another similar feature that I liked was the 
addition to the database of .mov excerpts from the series.  I'd 
love to see the database as a stand-alone reference product.  The 
game-related offending bits could be removed, the textual data 
expanded, and more .mov files added.
     The bottom line?  If you are a pretentious pedantic wanker 
like myself (and like some of the other members of the EBTL High 
Council), and are easily offended by anyone who would mess with 
the fictional reality of your favorite obsession, I would suggest 
that you skip _Destiny of the Doctors_.  If your fast-twitch 
muscles yearn for a Doctor Who-related computer gaming challenge, 
try to track down a copy of "Dalek Attack."

(c) copyright Z1R0, 1998.



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