Tuesday, 1 July 2008


Criminal Justice
Part 2 (of 5)

11x06 Werner Herzog: Beyond Reason
Interesting documentary about the somewhat loopy Bavarian filmmaker.


Wanted (2008)
[#46 in 100 Films in a Year 2008]

Quantum of Solace Teaser Trailer


Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
Chapter VIII
New Frontiersman Thursday, October 31st, 1985

Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny

Regular readers of this blog will have seen that, over the past three weeks (it feels longer), I've published a series of reviews of the Doctor Who: Decide Your Destiny books. These are a collection of gamebooks in which you join the tenth Doctor -- and, most of the time, Martha -- on adventures in time and space. Having now covered all 12 of the books (there may be more in the future, though none have been announced), I thought I'd compile all of my reviews into one handy guide.

This is that guide.

1) The Spaceship Graveyard
"The plot isn't a bad idea, though it disappointingly doesn't all come together... all of the decisions you make are aimed at the reader and not the character... It's disappointing because you have no control over your actions."

2) Alien Arena
"several action-packed sequences and a real sense that you have choices and your decisions will matter... a fantastic final sequence in which you wind up in the titular arena, battling aliens! This is how a Decide Your Destiny book should be done."

3) The Time Crocodile
"Your choices are often limited to directing the story rather than your actions, and most routes lead to pages that just say the same thing but with different words... a weak entry, both in terms of plot and quality of play."

4) The Corinthian Project
"Moore has clearly spent as long creating the setting for this adventure as the actual plot... frequently, once you've chosen a path via two or three decisions, you're shuttled from page to page... Where's the choice in that?"

5) The Crystal Snare
"the first historical of the range, and it uses its setting well... isn't quite as much fun as [Alien Arena], but the setting makes a nice change, the gameplay is more appropriate than Brake's entries, and the plot less bogged-down in linearity and technicalities than Moore's book."

6) War of the Robots
"Get the right path and Baxendale's book provides an entertaining read with moderately varied choices and some exciting sequences; but get the wrong one and you'll be shuttled through a dull denouement... Even with this, it's one of the series' better efforts."

7) Dark Planet
"engaging, with a couple of decent incidents and a fair backstory... there are three notably different adventures to be had from this book -- good value for money... one of the series' better efforts."

8) The Haunted Wagon Train
"[the plot] is OK, though not exceptional... Compared to the range's only other historical, the amount of detail is negligible and the setting isn't exceptionally well evoked. Another weak effort from Mr Brake."

9) Lost Luggage
"It will come as no surprise that all the problems evident in Brake's previous three books are present here... Brake's style of choices sap much of the fun out of playing this kind of book, and when you pair it with an over-ambitious plot [you've got] an entry at the lower end of the spectrum."

10) Second Skin
"it's a Who-like story of a technology company gone wrong, and an alien parasite turning ordinary people bad... [It] isn't my favourite entry... but it plays well and has a decent story. Certainly one of the series' better books."

11) The Dragon King
"a mixed bag. There's no plot to speak of, at least on the path I followed... and the ending was utterly lacklustre... I seem to have missed noteworthy things on other paths [meaning] it's the book I'm most likely to re-read."

12) The Horror of Howling Hill
"set entirely on present day Earth [and] taps into one of Who's main genres -- creepy goings on in apparently lovely places... an atmospheric adventure... one of my favourites"

So, having reached the end, I can say that they're a bit of a mixed bunch. Those written by Colin Brake are, to be blunt, best avoided, as they don't properly capture the spirit of this style of book. Other books may be lacking in some elements, but most have something to enjoy regardless; his four entries, on the other hand, represent the lowest rank in my opinion, and while some are passable they're style still obstructed the having of fun for me.

By a similar token -- only, the other side of it -- Richard Dungworth's books are all a safe bet, with Alien Arena enduring as my best-remembered experience of the range (though it should be noted that it was only the second book, and so being flat-out better than the first may have given it a small boost). Aside from Dungworth's three (numbers 2, 5 and 10), I would most recommend Davey Moore's Dark Planet and Jonathan Green's The Horror of Howling Hill, both being exciting tales in their own right -- the former especially, as it contains three very different routes.

While I've been fairly critical of some of these books -- finding something bad to say about all of them, I must admit! -- they were almost all fun in one way or another, all well written (considering their target audience), and most captured the characters of the Doctor and Martha suitably. Certainly the less-critical eye of a younger reader -- some of whom would surely miss the distinction between "directing your character" and "directing the story", the much-cited primary flaw of Brake's efforts -- would be likely to get even more unquestioning enjoyment out of them than I did.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to read some books where the page numbers always go consecutively...

Days til New York...


For a full explanation, please see the start of the countdown.