(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 2 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 3 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 3.5 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 0.5 Stars
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock
- Street Date:
- May 23rd, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Daniel Hirshleifer
- Review Date:1
- May 30th, 2012
- Game Release Year:
- BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment
- Supermassive Games
- ESRB Rating:
- E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
IntroductionI love Doctor Who. I mean, I really love it. The fifty years of the show, the books, the radio dramas, the spin-offs, the whole kitten caboodle. If there's only thing I don't love about Doctor Who, it's the video games. There aren't many of them, but the few that there are have been aimed squarely at kids. Now, there are good games for children (see the Lego franchise for proof), but up to this point Doctor Who has not been able to conquer the gaming universe. The BBC has finally released a game aimed at more than children with The Eternity Clock. The question is, will this adventure draw in real gamers?
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Things begin as normal, with The Doctor (voice and likeness of Matt Smith) in the middle of some catastrophe. He lands on Earth to try and fix the problem, and stumbles upon many of his greatest enemies in short order. He enlists the help of his on-again, off-again ally, River Song (voice and likeness of Alex Kingston) to stop a plot that could threaten all of time and space.
So far, so good. It certainly sounds like Doctor Who, but does it feel like it? In its best moments, yes. When you're running around as The Doctor, getting shot at by Cybermen, and trying desperately to unlock a door with your sonic screwdriver, it absolutely feels like the real thing. If the whole game were filled with such moments, the game would be an absolute blast. But Doctor Who has always been more about action, and The Eternity Clock tries its best to provide that balance as well.
At its heart, The Eternity Clock is a puzzle game. Doing most anything in the game requires puzzle solving of some kind, whether it be the relatively simple pushing and pulling of crates to Pipe Dream styled mini games. The problem is that the puzzles get repetitive fast. While you rarely have to solve the same kind of puzzle twice in a row, there are only a few types to choose from, so you end up playing the same three puzzles multiple times each level. The Doctor is beyond genius-level intellect, but you don't have to have an IQ off the charts to get bored doing the same tasks over and over.
The platforming elements also have their issues. First off, the game has 3D modeling but plays on a 2D plane. This is an awkward compromise, because it restricts your range of movement. Even worse, your enemies often lie on background planes, but they can still shoot you. This wouldn't be a deal breaker if the platforming itself was tight and precise. Instead, it's loose and slow and often buggy.
You see, most of the game is played co-op with The Doctor and River Song. You can play with a friend and a second controller, and that is most definitely the way to do it. If you choose to play by yourself, you'll still have an AI companion, but the AI often freezes, getting stuck on ladders and the like, forcing you back to the beginning of the level. Not the last checkpoint, mind you, but the beginning of the entire level, which could be quite a ways back. And even if you trudge all the way to the spot where the AI froze up, there's no guarantee it won't freeze up again. It's frustrating, and quite frankly, breaks the game.
All of that being said, there are some genuinely fun moments. As mentioned above, using the sonic screwdriver is a blast, and it's cute to see the way guards react to River's hallucinogenic lipstick. There are also many collectibles littered throughout the world that are worth tracking down. Additionally, the voice acting by Smith and Kingston and their dialogue are worth listening to for any fan of the series (more on that below).
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
While you're restricted to a 2D playing field, the game itself is in 3D. The models for The Doctor and River are far superior to previous Doctor Who games, although keep in mind this isn't going to look like a top tier PS3 title. The world itself also has lots of detail and variety in the environments, making the game pleasing to look at (which you may have to do, over and over, thanks to the AI glitches).
The Audio: Rating the Sound
If there's any high point to The Eternity Clock, it's the voice acting by Matt Smith and Alex Kingston. Both are pros who know their characters well, and their banter is often a highlight of any given recent episode of the series. When they're going at each other, it feels like an authentic Doctor Who experience. Similarly, the voices of the Cyberman, Daleks, and other baddies are spot on. However, trouble crops up even here. More than once I encountered a glitch where dialogue wouldn't be spoken for a period of time, only to be said all at once in a row later in the game, completely out of context. This happened at random and nothing seemed to trigger it.
Given that a single playthrough of The Eternity Clock will inevitably result in playing most levels three or four times, there's very little to recommend replaying it. There are the collectibles, but most of them are not hard to access the first time around.
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a game with a lot of promise. It has reasonably good graphics, great voice work and dialogue, and a few worthwhile challenges. However, making the game 2D, repetitive puzzles, and a host of bugs and glitches make The Eternity Clock almost unplayable. It's truly a shame, because for a few brief moments here and there, one can almost see how fantastic a more fully realized Doctor Who game could be. I guess I'll have to jump into a TARDIS to find a point in time and space where I can play one.
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