Doctor Who comes to PSN. Supermassive Games along with the BBC bring us Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock and from the opening menus that are reminiscent of the TV shows opening credits, this feels like a Doctor Who game trying to set a standard. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long to realise this isn’t a new standard in console gaming but really just a good game when compared to phone/tablet gaming, which is where these sorts of games tend to live.
Immediately you are struck with the limitations of the game. Starting in the downed TARDIS (the story begins with the TARDIS out of control and crashing to Earth – shock!) you desperately want to explore the blue box but you can’t. It’s left or right all the way with only with a few button options on the TARDIS console and a few well delivered quips from Matt Smith as the Doctor. Upon leaving the TARDIS and walking into your first time line (of which there are three – sixteenth century London, present day London and future London) you’ll start to have flashbacks to old school puzzle platformers with limited left/right, walking/climbing or up and down via ladder movement and the odd thing to move about to solve a problem. Essentially the left stick moves you about, the right stick enables you to scan the area with your sonic screwdriver and find ways out for your predicament.
The games expands slightly when you have to find frequencies with your sonic screwdriver to open doors (sort of Arkham Asylum style) or pop in and out of mini games, such as perception filters in order to solve larger problems. These are generally mini games. Rotating rings to create an image, making electronic connections and the sort of stuff that will no doubt be a little more fun when the game arrives on PS Vita later in the year. On top of that you also get to play as River Song (voiced by Alex Kingston) who uses her hallucinogenic lipstick to make guards do her bidding while trying to sneak around in a Metal Gear Lite sort of fashion (essentially it’s a series of snaking, kissing and hiding in dark corridors) Sometimes the puzzles involve both characters interacting for pushing, climbing and pushing buttons in unison but nothing all that taxing. There’s also an option to play the game two player so that expands the experience a little more.
The soundtrack, voice work and obviously the baddies all make this a semi-strong feeling Doctor Who tie-in and the sonic screwdrivering feels well paced and genuine to how the Doctor rolls in the show but there are issues here. I don’t ever remember the Doctor doing the whole original Prince of Persia style ledge jumping and climbing in order to open locked doors. Also the left to right 2D scrolling feels very out of date and the hokey animation when you turn corners is just plain odd and not the greatest thing when trying to get a lay of the land. The bad guys shooting at you from the backgrounds feel tired and very cheap for a title that costs £14 and while some of the game’s graphics are well put together there’s a distinct feeling this game didn’t have much of a budget, with even the cut away sequences offering very little in the way of impressive animation – just a buzz from the characters’ likenesses really.
The game will last you 6-8 hours. There’s a bunch of collectables to find (the Doctor’s hat collection and Song’s diary notes) . There are a few difficulty levels but all these do is affect the time you have to solve puzzles rather than making them harder. The game is pretty linear and easy to work out for the most part making it pretty ideal for the kid element of show’s target audience (the game all but tells you what to do most of the time). The odd bug crops up in the animation (and I also had a couple of crashes) which can sometimes make this game a little frustrating, especially in the River Song sneaking about levels but generally I think Doctor Who fans will get a bigger time travelling buzz from this, if only for the solid voice work and the TV show’s score thumping away to make this feel more exciting than it really is. More hardcore gamers will spot the problems and limitations immediately and while both sides of the fence will get a tiny kick out of the game due to its relatively easy to pick up structure, though I highly doubt it will last that long in amongst the far superior PS3 options you have out there.
|Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock PSN/ PS3 Scores|
|Simple, spelt out and pretty routine but the sonic screwdriver mixes things up from time to time.|
|Character likenesses in the cut away sequences are okay but with limited animation. The game itself has some depth but it’s a disguise for the fairly simple looks of the game.|
|Actors voices and the TV show’s score pumping away makes the game more Doctor Who than any other element in this game.|
|A fair few collectables and a multiplayer option will warrant at least one extra play through but not much after that I’d imagine.|
|Proper Doctor Who menus light this above bare basics but beyond that it’s all pretty straight forward.|
|If it wasn’t for the Doctor Who licence this game with be easily forgotten but Matt Smith’s voice, the shows themes and sonic screwdrivering all over the place make this puzzle adventure game a light but relatively fun outing. £13.99 might be a tiny bit overpriced but hardcore Doctor Who fans should just about be able to live with it.|
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is available for purchase now.
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