Dr. Gregory House and his staff at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital get the videogame treatment for the first time in this PC game from Legacy Interactive’s Hollywood Hits™ series. These developers present five new medical mysteries not seen on House, M.D. with approximately 100 engaging puzzles and minigames. As in the acclaimed Fox television series, Foreman, Thirteen, Taub and Chase provide team support as players, like House on the series, find Cuddy is the ultimate authority. Barbara Barnett and I reviewed this PC game.
Barbara Barnett: The game is an essentially stripped down episode with bits of interactions thrown in between House and Cuddy, House and Wilson, etc. to catch the non-medical flavors within the series. A patient falls ill and comes to Princeton-Plainsboro. House asks some questions and we get to examine the patient, choosing implements including latex gloves, a stethoscope, magnifying glass, and a pen. You have to hone in on a particular body part to examine and then have at it, with markers showing you the way. Pick the right instrument and the right location and you rack up symptoms which then lead you into the main diagnostic process to follow the test and guess differentials that characterize the medicine on House, M.D.
Tall Writer: Analytical and observational skills definitely come to the forefront here. Other big television game adaptations have a similar feel, but developers here do not use the voice talents from the television cast, only their physical likeness in still images. This approach works because the graphics do appeal. The animation focuses on the skilled actions players must perform. These actions include lab testing, examinations, and surgical procedures.
Barnett: Artistically, the character renderings are very pretty — as if House were transported to a graphic novel and put through Photoshop. House has had about 10 to 15 years shaved off (along with much of his scruffiness), and drawings of the remaining cast are accurate and nicely done. There are several minigames within the game that involve capturing quickly floating disease names, taking blood samples, and using a laryngoscope and finding lesions. All of the puzzles and minigames are timed, so if you’re too slow (or your mouse is too slow) you will get an “F” grade from Cuddy and be put on probation or sent to the clinic. Horrors!
TW: The timed challenges create some emotional urgency here for the player, but a better character connection would enhance the game more. Cuddy is limited to her authority role, which is only one aspect of her character on the show. Ditto for Wilson as House’s best friend.
Barnett: Overall, I was sadly disappointed by this game which was so long in coming and is so untrue to the show I’ve come to know, love, and write about. This game is neither really thought provoking nor especially challenging, and rather than lead players towards finding the diagnosis for the patient, only seems to be diversions to the medical story told within the game’s “episode.” There are of course the obligatory “House-isms,” trips to Cuddy and Wilson to schmooze and snark, but they seem stuck on rather than to organically flow from the game’s storyline. It think the game might appeal best to fans of the show who are already into this type of game. But fans who are looking to capture the real flavor of the series or the diagnostic process might be disappointed.
TW: Developers balance elements well; retain the fun aspects of the show and keep the proceedings on the lighter side with less tension and medical gore, thereby avoiding an M rating. This balance inhibits some creative and more open-ended possibilities here. The format focuses on time limits and diagnostic skills here, but different storylines or an occasional “choose your own adventure” storyline might have helped. Players needed to see more of the outrageous and unpredictable actions that Hugh Laurie House character has consistently displayed.
House, M.D. is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for blood, drug reference, mild language, sexual themes, and violent references. This game can also be found soon on the Nintendo DS.