Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock Review
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock Is So Poorly Put Together That Not Even A Time Lord With A Sonic Screwdriver Would Be Able To Fix It
Platform : Playstation 3 Exclusive
Developer : Supermassive Games
Mixing stuff together can often lead to disastrous results. For example, mixing nitric acid and hydrazine will cause an explosion. Mixing vinegar and bleach will produce a toxic chlorine gas. Mixing Mel Gibson and alcohol will lead to racial slurs and a spot of fisticuffs. Point is, certain things were meant to be kept away from each other.
A prominent member of that list is "videogames based on television shows". Which, when you think about it, isn't all that surprising. Very rarely does anyone watch a programme on the goggle box and say to themselves "Sigh. If only there was a way I could be a stressed out chef with money worries that gets humiliated by Gordon Ramsey". Instead games based on telly hits are usually the brain farts of TV execs looking to cash in on their popular brand names. As such the game makers instructions are usually nothing more than "Quick! Get something on the shelves while we're still hot!", and not "Hey. Relax man. Take all the time you need. Just make sure you make this the best game possible". And in the end the product inevitably suffers, as abominations like Lost: Via Domus and Little Britain: The Video Game are released on to the streets to inflict misery upon the rest of us.
Still, as a certain Gallifreyan would probably point out, nothing lasts forever. One day a game will come along that will buck this trend. A game that can be enjoyed by fans of the franchise and non-fans alike. A game so good it will make those suits behind the scenes rethink their priorities, forcing them to spend some much needed time and care when attempting to transfer their products from cable boxes to home consoles.
The frustrating thing is that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock could have been that game. It's not. Nowhere near in fact. But it could have been.
Featuring the exploits of a face changing, TARDIS flying, alien with two hearts and no name, Doctor Who is seemingly perfect for pixilation. After all the formula for most episodes revolves around The Doctor struggling to keep his spaceship on course, running away from monsters, and doing something remarkably clever in the end to save the day. All of which could be easily turned in to a thoroughly entertaining gaming experience in the right hands. In fact Doctor Who is a much more likely candidate for success than serial "crap TV-to-Game" offenders like The X-Files.
So, stepping up to the challenge of turning the Last of the Time Lords in to the next Mario are developers Supermassive Games. Having chosen to tell The Doctor's story via a 2D platform puzzler, the initial signsare very promising indeed. Matt Smith is on board providing the voice and motion capture for The Doctor. So too is Alex Kingston as the ever-so-saucy River Song. Visually they’ve managed to recreate iconic characters like the Daleks and the Silurians rather faithfully, even if at times the backgrounds appear quite basic. The sound effects and score, often overlooked in enterprises of this kind, are spot on. But the most impressive aspect of the opening stages is that The Eternity Clock is dripping with atmosphere. Whether it’s River Song escaping from her Stormcage, the Doctor standing outside a pub in 1892, or using a sonic screwdriver to examine your surroundings, there’s a feeling that somewhere out there is a living breathing world waiting to be discovered.
But pretty soon The Eternity Clock falls off a cliff like a lemming on a bungee jump. Woeful character controls mean simple actions such asleaping on to a crate can result in The Doctor falling off the other side. Or banging his head. Or simply standing around. The level design is as dull as dishwater, with linear A to B routes that positively discourage any form of exploration. The puzzle elements are also incredibly annoying, from tedious mini games that punctuate levels like open sores, to fantastically ill though out set pieces.
For example, early on in the game River must break in to a glass room in order to press a button that will somehow help her and The Doctor save the world. For some reason, even though she’s equipped with a blaster that fires finely tuned laser beams, shooting the glass won’t break it. To add to her woes, the Cybermen have burst in to the building and are making a beeline for Professor Song (by the way, although it may sound otherwise, all this is as exciting as a nagging pain at the base of your skull). After randomly trying about a million things you’ll eventually stumble across the solution, which is to let the Cybermen make their way to the room and smash through the glass, at which point you can slip in behind them and complete yet more dull mini games for the win. Thing is though it takes the Cybermen about two or three minutes to reach the room. And should you get killed before you can complete your objective (which considering the dodgy controls and the fact that you have no idea where a pack of Cybermen may be hiding, is actually quite likely) then the whole thing will start again. From the beginning. Which means another three minutes of standing around doing nothing, while those metal bastards slowly shuffle towards the room. After the sixth time of going through this if you haven’t thrown your PS3 out of the window then you should probably think seriously about joining the Samaritans. They’re looking for folks like you.
And that by itself would be enough to give The Eternity Clock a thumbs down. But with reports surfacing of system crashes (it should be noted the version we played didn’t crash once, no matter how much we wanted it to so that we could have an excuse to stop playing) and an assortment of bugs that would get Bill Oddie all hot and bothered, DW:TEC feels less like an earnest attempt to make an enjoyable interactive experience and more like a shoddy cash grab.
Now it would be easy to say that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock will appeal to only the hardest of the hardcore Who fans. But between The Horns Of Nimon, Love & Monsters, and the majority of Torchwood, we’ve probably suffered enough already. There’s no need to punish yourself any further.
Time is a very curious business however. Sooner or later someone will make a great Doctor Who game. Until that day comes, a word of advice. Never mix chemicals willy nilly. Never let an A-list Australian actor anywhere near your drinks cabinet. And stay well clear of this dreadful excuse for a videogame.
Because unfortunately Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is so poorly put together that not even a Time Lord with a sonic screwdriver would be able to fix it.
Two metres high and rising. - Chaos Hour Writer
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