Time For Change?
If I'm being brutally honest, even as a fan of the show, I can admit that Doctor Who has never had a good time of it in the video gaming universe. Earlier in the year I wrote a piece over at TechTroid explaining how the characters, the intense and personal narratives and above all the wit and charm of the BBC's famed sci-fi drama could never be accurately represented with a console game. As much as I'd like to say that The Eternity Clock proves me wrong, if anything it just helps to support everything I said in that very article. For one, the narrative is loose and disjointed, the various pieces of the fabled Eternity Clock scattered across time simply an excuse for the Doctor and River to encounter fan-favourite enemies like the Cyber-Men, the Silurians, the Silence and of course the Daleks in recognisable locations like London and spaceships. Much as Matt Smith and Alex Kingston's wonderful banter makes for an engaging adventure to play through, at times even coming close to matching some of the TV programme's innovation, for the most part the various allusions to the series' chronology and fandom do little to strengthen the rag-tag plot. It doesn't help that this is blatantly intended as the first part of a trilogy either, as the dismal pair of final 'setpieces' (the inverted commas used there as the game's side-scrolling format robs it of any sense of scale or true adventure) are followed by a direct lead-in into the second instalment's narrative. Worse still, there are an atrocious number of bugs and glitches scattered throughout the game, so much so that you might think that this was one of Bethesda's day-one freakouts, except for the fact that Supermassive Games have rushed into crafting a product that is nowhere near the level of quality that the likes of Skyrim and Fallout have attained in the past. The core gameplay centres on the Doctor solving platforming puzzles and using his sonic screwdriver to complete repetitive mini-games while his ever-faithful wife uses her Vortex Manipulator and sonic blaster to hold off their adversaries at bay, two deadly dull premises that are executed in just as monotonous a way as you might hope the devs would have strived to avoid. I will credit Super Massive for ensuring that you are constantly on your feet, thrust into countless varying dangerous situations that can appear to hold all of the fun and action of the game's inspiration, yet once again as soon as you run into a glitch or realise that all of the bravado crumbles beneath a deeply flawed engine, the whole experiences becomes that much more of a drag. Beyond the main campaign, there's nothing else new provided here either: the visuals are hardly anything to brag about to your mates in a replay, and the only incentives to return to missions are the collectable hats for the Doctor and River's diary pages, both of which hardly lay a scratch on titles like GTA IV and Arkham City that had players returning for countless hours after their main narratives. What we're left with, then, in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a disappointingly mundane side-scroller that attempts to capture the spirit and passion of the main show but only succeeds to the extent of its cast's enthusiasm, its broken gameplay and woeful narrative holding it back from getting anywhere close to the definitive gaming experience for fans.
GRAPHICS: 5/10; GAMEPLAY: 5/10; INNOVATION: 4/10;