I was recently asked to review House The Official Game on DS and the only thing I knew about the show was that it starred Hugh Laurie. I thought if I were to do the game any justice I better do some research and watch the very first episode. Overall House the TV show didn’t tickle my fancy especially, I found some parts amusing but the story and writing was a little stale and unnatural. On the brighter side I wasn’t so offended by the show that I wanted to slit my wrists. House MD the show (and the game) follows the exploits of Dr Gregory House and his group of underling doctors. At the start of the episode we meet the prospective patient and we’re just shown enough of their life to get a basic understanding of who they are. Suddenly and without warning they fall ill and rushed to hospital only to find that their illness is not immediately diagnosable.
What happens next is the part that most worries me most about the American medical system. Dr House and Co take a short look at the initial symptoms and start treatment only to find that the patient isn’t getting better, perhaps getting more ill. Next up House delves deeper into conversation with the patient looking to sniff out lies and inconsistencies in a bid to work out what really is causing the symptoms. This usually works to an extent but House is still not satisfied and sends his team out to research the patients life in more detail. This includes such activities as breaking into their home, rummaging through their personal possessions and interrogating their friends and family. As crazy and unethical as all this sounds, it actually gets results and hey presto another patient is successfully diagnosed correctly.
That’s the background to the TV show, but is House the DS game anything like the series or is it a cheap cash in? Funnily enough, House the game is surprisingly like the TV show. The game cart contains five unique ‘episodes’ for you to play through, each lasts around about 45-60 minutes and follows the format that I described above fairly closely. Of course things are a little different because you are put in control of things….a little.
Rather than just sitting back to watch proceedings, at every critical stage in the episode you are required to complete a minigame. This starts with completing the basic steps in the initial diagnosis; you know the sort of thing, checking the pulse and looking for unusual markings on the body. Next up House sits down with the rest of his gang and asks everyone to shout out what they think the patient is suffering from. Usually after about six or seven wrong guesses House is usually satisfied they’re finally on the right track and gets treatment going. So now you and your trusty DS stylus need to do more minigames, taking blood samples for example; no way near as tricky as the real thing of course, just a few swiped and taps on the screen and you’re done.
In the mean time House has sent a pair of kids off to investigate further, yes this means you too can invade the privacy of a total stranger and go looking around their home and interrogate their pals. Here you get to look around the patients home looking for potential contaminates that may be causing the condition; this can include Food, Clothing, Household Chemicals and the like.
Once you’re back in the hospital you get to run even more tests and play more minigames; things like injecting medicines and performing blood analysis. Once again they’re fairly simple touch-screen affairs and to be honest, they are are short and a bit boring. Most of the fun that I had wasn’t actually what I played but what I read, and I suspect that will be the case for most people too. You see quite unusually for a game on a Nintendo platform, House MD for DS is fairly adult themed. There are several mentions to sex and hard drugs, not to mention lots of bitchy language and insults , there’s even one episode dedicated to the treatment of a closet transvestite.
House DS overall is a good but not great game, I think it provides some good fan service and represents the show quite realistically. The downside is that there really isn’t much gaming fun to be had, all of the so called minigames are trivial and not much fun. If you’re a fan of House’s TV show banter then you will be very pleased with how he is represented in the game. On the other hand if you were looking for a fun medical simulator you’ve come to the wrong place. The graphics are very basic but do the job, the visual representations of the real characters is good but almost everything is static – there is hardly any animation to be found in the whole game. Things go totally downhill when it comes to the sound department, there’s almost no sound at all. All you’ll hear is an occasional sound effect and perhaps a tiny bit of dramatic music for a few seconds. The rest of the game is near silent, no voice samples or anything. It’s great if you don’t want to disturb the other half in bed but you might as well put on your iPod if you want something to listen to.
So the game itself is poor but the writing is actually quite good, well as good as the TV show anyway. Fans of the House character will enjoy the text but I doubt they’ll get anything else out of the game. An average 5 out of 10.
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