House M.D.

Just because a TV show has won scads of shiny awards doesn’t mean it has any business being turned into a videogame. Over the years, helpless gamers have watched their favorite movies, novels, and fast-food restaurants get mangled solely for the sake of slapped-together interactivity and transparent cash-grabs. House M.D. proudly adds another notch to the timeline of this dubious tradition, with results so anemic that the medical drama’s arrogant titular character would euthanize it after a double dose of sarcastic jokes at its expense.

Still, Legacy Interactive did its homework on the show: The game’s five levels all hinge on freakish medical emergencies, the patients all lie, Dr. House is callous and cranky, and the diagnosis is never lupus. It’s just that the homework was apparently done the period before it was due, as if the development team hatched the idea for the game at the onset of a House marathon, worked on it during commercial breaks, and finished before the second episode started. The show has been made into a game in the clumsiest, dullest way imaginable, ignoring years of established medical-game history to instead boil House down into something more mindless than watching TV. The cases all unfold regardless of how well you interview patients, execute mini-game diagnostic tests (several of which are lazily repeated), or even pay attention.

Not that there’s much reason to do so. Perhaps most perplexing of all, it’s unclear what character from the series you’re playing. Are you Dr. House? One of his assistants? Some green rookie diagnostician trying to make a name for yourself? Does it really matter? The player’s role is reduced to a series of button-presses on menu screens that serve only to keep the cutscenes rolling, and while the graphics are nice enough, no amount of heavy lifting from the episodes makes playing worthwhile. Diagnosing an organ-donor-recipient pothead clown can hardly be considered fun when the most interesting part of the process is navigating a restaurant-placemat-style maze, in which a giant sandwich must avoid hungry physicians on its way to Dr. House’s office. Even the McDonald’s videogame didn’t stoop that low.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In August 2010, Legacy Interactive contacted us to let us know that the DS version of the game reviewed here has been significantly updated since this review was written.

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