Considering the Doctor’s world-wide appeal and a decades spanning service on the TV, his appearance on our computer screens has been lacking, with a smattering of rather lacklustre titles released over the past couple of years. Well now the Doctor and the TARDIS are about to come crashing onto the PS3 in an exclusive release, but is this what Doctor Who fans have been waiting for?
Initial impressions are high with a great introduction of the current incarnation of the Doctor struggling and pleading for the TARDIS to at least land on Earth so he can figure out why there is a time storm surrounding the Earth. Voiced by Matt Smith himself and the game presenting (at least during the cut scenes) a passable resemblance of our favourite Gallifrey Time Lord this will send fans into a frenzy, let alone a fun but brief interaction with the TARDIS itself before setting foot outside those famous doors and into present day London.
Initially unclear as to what is causing this time storm, the Doctor wanders around a bank vault, picking up clues with his sonic screwdriver and before you know it we are knee deep in Cybermen (plus Daleks other classic Who monsters) as they patrol the lower echelons of London. Just like any of the Doctor Who shows he is not alone in this predicament, being aided this time by River Song and her mind controlling kisses; with the game either controlling River or flipping control with you playing as the Doctor or River through different time zones, using their separate skills to solve all manner of problems from the physical like giving boosts to reach higher areas or ducking into darkened door arches for a bit of stealth action, to the more mental puzzles like rotating dials to create a picture or matching wave patterns with the sonic screwdriver.
Matt Smith’s take on the Doctor is really well represented here with all of his manic waving of his sonic screwdriver and plenty of comments and mad ramblings as he takes heed of the situation at hand, ambitiously plotting how to solve the current problem, it’s just like it has been pulled straight from the show. Sadly the initial impressions turn sour pretty much from the moment you start wandering around the first level, with Doctor Who really failing at pretty much every level bar the voice acting. Even as a very basic 2D platform adventure game it still gets it very wrong with an awkward 3D perspective causing problems with working out what you can jump and climb to plus a fidgety animation system that feels like there is a delay from pressing an action button, causing many a mistimed jump or fatal mistake when trying to sedate an enemy guard. The game boast motion capture technology has been used her but when it looks even out-dated by the original Price of Persia game, you know there are problems.
It is not just the controls that cause issues but the sporadic difficulty levels; even though puzzles are adjustable at any point of the game, they are still extremely boring and very uneven; a perfect example is the Cybermen chase through London Underground, with a horrible valve type game where you need to get the correct pressure and light a group of lanterns by opening and closing valves. You can change the difficulty setting at any point, making the head scratching difficult 5 or more lights a more palatable 4, but even then it is a very close thing to work out a solution (other than mashing away at the buttons and pray, which worked on more than one occasion) to solve the puzzle and then traverse jumps and overhead rails, all the while waiting on the slow to move and sometimes unresponsive computer controlled River Song. This is a complete mess, made worse by the poorly placed checkpoints, resulting in quite a few replays of the whole level.
Essentially, The Eternity Clock has everything a Doctor Who fan desires, but lacks in any real solid gameplay, something I am sure will be ignored by the many faithful followers of the Time Lords exploits. A bit more polish and play testing and this could have been at least an average game, but as it is, this is more for the teenage fans, any younger and they will struggle.
Rating: Below Average Review Policy (version tested: PSN/PS3)