Review: House M.D. (PC)

House, M.D.
Developer: Glyphic Entertainment, LLC
Publisher: Legacy Interactive
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 09/13/2010

A tie-in game to the television show of the same name, House M.D. tries to mirror the medical mystery formula from the show, it’s quick wit, bizarre medical treatments with some mini-games designed to simulate actual medical procedures. But is it enough to really get fans of the show into the game, or will it need to be resuscitated?

Story/Modes
There are five different episodes included with this game. Each one is a different case and each appears to be set some time in either last season’s run or the season before that as Foreman and Thirteen are still making goo goo eyes at each other and House keeps mentioning addiction (but I never see him pop any pills hence the confusion). The episodes progress just like an episode of the show, with someone getting sick (not always the person you’d think it’ll be), the team trying to diagnose and treat the disease without knowing quite what they’ve got, some clinic time with other patients, more treatments, House having an epiphany that you help him get through gameplay and of course solving the diagnosis of what the patient really has.

The dialogue for the stories is well written and really does feel like the characters I’ve come to know while watching the show as well as House’s antics in particular as he roots through Cuddy’s office or is really out there with patients he has to work with and not through the team. Even the team’s interactions with each other are spot on which is refreshing to see in a video game translation of the show. It’s more why I watch it really.

Story/Modes Rating: Great

Graphics
I’ve reviewed another in the vein of this game, CSI: NY, and I wasn’t impressed too much with the graphical look of that game as it only captured the likenesses of the main cast some of the time and it was jarring and distracting. I’m pleased to say that isn’t the case with this game. House‘s design style looks like the real actors were cel-shaded to adapt to the game-worlds design and you know instantly who the characters are just by looking at them because they look just like the actor’s that portray them on the show. The design-work here is great and beyond what I was expecting here.

The environments beyond that do feel a bit more generic, but this is a hospital and other suburban locations we’re talking about here, nothing terribly fancy. They do their job of conveying where you are. It’s the characters that really shine here and are the main focus. When you’re in the mini-games as well performing the different tasks, the devices you’re using actually look like something you’d expect to see in a hospital which worked to help suck me into the game experience even more.

Graphics Rating: Very Good

Sound
Here’s where the game falls a little short. The music and sound effects are passable, but not one cast member from the show voices any of the dialogue you’re reading on screen which I was actually hoping to hear. Even the show’s main theme is conspicuously absent from the loading screen and a generic electronic melody is in it’s place. The music and effects do their job but it’s all very unremarkable.

Sound Rating: Mediocre

Control and Gameplay
Control and gameplay for this game are fairly simple and straight-forward. The mouse does it all. If you’re looking around the room, drag the mouse to pan the picture. Need to pick something up, move the mouse over and highlight it, and then click on it to pick it up. Now there are some mini-games that change this up a bit.

Like most games in this genre, you’re tying the main story or mystery in with a series of mini-games to simulate what goes on in the show. Like say you’ve got an x-ray of your patient, you need to compare it to a healthy patient and highlight areas that are anomalous. There was another where you’re controlling the camera in someone’s lungs trying to find cancer cells. The examinations are all pretty standard even in the clinic. You highlight a part of the person looking for symptoms, pick the right tool for the job and move it around on the offending body part until you get a gauge and hold it there until the symptoms are recorded.

It wouldn’t be House though if the doctor’s did nothing but lab work. Like the show you’ll be heading out to various locations and breaking in just like House makes them do on the show. I didn’t have to do any of the breaking in but you do have to look around the areas for anything that might be a contributor to the person’s disease and collect it for testing later. The games are all varied and they give you step-by-step instructions for them. I think my favorite mini-game is the one simulating House trying to figure things out in his head. We get a cutaway of his brain and play a bizarre version of Breakout where you bounce the ball through his brain clearing out different objects to get his epiphany. It was a very cute set-up.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Great

Replayability
While you do have five cases to play through, and you do get graded on each procedure, there’s not really much to play through again for unless you liked the story. If you don’t and you just like doing the procedures or hunting up the objects for testing you can actually skip the cut-scenes and just do that if you want to, which was a nice inclusion. Really though, this game falls under the solve and move on category. It’s a one time shot for most people who play it. The good news is after you complete a case, it’s unlocked and you can go back to it if you enjoyed that one and not one of the others so much.

Replayability Rating: Below Average

Balance
The game is priced really well for what you’re getting. There’s between five and ten hours of content here depending on how fast you move through, which is about what you’ll get out of most action titles these days. The game itself isn’t terribly difficult, and is more on matching things up and getting the procedure right the first time. The cases are more interesting than anything else and if you can make it through the first don’t expect things to get any more difficult as you move along, because it won’t. For those looking for a challenge though, look elsewhere. Objects are pretty easy to spot, especially when they highlight and with a step-by-step of each procedure you don’t have to worry about screwing it up, just getting it done.

Balance Rating: Decent

Originality
This is where the game loses me. While they are original cases and not based off ones on the show, it relies on the mini-games that are all variations on ones I’ve seen before in other adventure style games, just re-purposed here in another fashion without anything really new added to them. The game is all about re-creating the show’s experience in a video game format, which it does, but that doesn’t give it points for originality or doing something different than any other game tying into an existing property.

Originality Rating: Pretty Poor

Addictiveness
While I was involved in a case I was all intent and wanting to get it done and enjoying myself. But then after that case I didn’t really feel motivated to get into another one. So while I was involved in it I was amused and entertained, but after each one I felt drained and needed to take a break. So while it’s addictive in short spurts I don’t know many who’ll want to blow through it in one sitting, myself included in that. Some of that has to do with the repeating generic music and the lack of real involvement from a voice cast.

Addictiveness Rating: Decent

Appeal Factor
While House has a pretty decent TV audience following it, not many people I know want to play a video game version of it. On top of that this game hasn’t been shuffled around the media much and I didn’t even know it existed until we got a review copy of it. Add to that it’s only online right now with no definitive big box store release date and the people who’d browse the aisles looking for something like this won’t be seeing it. It’s fun, but ultimately forgettable.

Appeal Factor Rating: Below Average

Miscellaneous
I did have an issue when I first downloaded it where it wouldn’t load up. I’m not the only one looking at the forums, but they were very quick with Customer Service and getting a new version out for me to download, and the company has been doing that for every person that’s had an issue. I did have an instance during the first case where the game made it almost impossible to do anything. You’re trying to find the source of a disease on this guy’s lawn and have a map and photos and are placing objects you collected on the map to figure it out. When you zoom in on the pictures though there is no combination of keys or mouse-clicks to get the picture to go back to where it was.

I ended up having to go to the menu which is always available and save and exit the case and go back into the game to get it working again. But it was each picture that was in that part of the case that was doing it. It was mildly frustrating but overall though that was the only bug I had besides the game not loading at all, which there is a fix for. I do like it when a game isn’t buggy and one bug didn’t kill my overall experience with the game.

Miscellaneous Rating: Enjoyable

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Great
Graphics Rating: Very Good
Sound Rating: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay Rating: Great
Replayability Rating: Below Average
Balance Rating: Decent
Originality Rating: Pretty Poor
Addictiveness Rating: Decent
Appeal Factor Rating: Below Average
Miscellaneous Rating: Enjoyable
FINAL SCORE: ABOVE AVERAGE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize For fans of the show, House M.D. represents a worthy attempt to bring the show into the video game format. For people looking for an adventure title with medical procedures, this might not be for you, especially if you’re not a fan of the show as the format might be off-putting for you, especially if you’re not ready for House’s attitude. It’s a fun, short and affordable romp, but ultimately forgettable.

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