Published on May 25th, 2012 | by Charlie4
Review: Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock
Summary: Charlie takes a look at Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, is it any good? read the review to find out!
I should have known. When the very first console game for Doctor Who was announced, I thought: “OK, it took it’s time to get here but finally. A console game of Doctor Who.” I followed the games progress for months, just hoping it would be the Doctor Who game I had hoped for. Boy was I kidding myself in the end.
The sad reality of this game is that it lacks a lot of charm, is filled with pointless problems and is just plain dull to play. How so? First of all, the story is just… silly. The Doctor is in his TARDIS (that’s his Time and Space machine if you didn’t know) when all hell breaks loose as the TARDIS goes nuts when a time storm is threatening to tear the universe apart. He finds himself in the Bank of England in the present day, where he is soon joined by River Song (who is called upon via phone by the TARDIS itself) when he gets stuck behind a door that requires two people to work. The plots get even more nuttier when they both begin to uncover the mystery of the Eternity Clock, a contraption that records all history. For some unknown reason, it’s scattered into pieces, so the Doctor and River go out on a mission to uncover all pieces so that they can restore the universe.
This story is just filled with errors and silly moments; for one, there’s a point in the game when the Doctor would actually mention “The Eternity Clock”, and then an hour later, he acts like he’s never even heard of the thing; this got me really confused. Not only that, but the plot has you fighting off Silurians, Cybermen, Daleks and even the Silence, but the big problem here is that you never know how they are involved; you just learn that they have a piece of the eternity clock and you have to get them. The big part of the story is the ending; whilst I will not spoil what happens, there’s not really anything to tell about it. The game just stops and ends on a cliffhanger, almost as if the developers were about to make some DLC that’ll complete the story. Why? What for? Isn’t it bad enough I just spent £13.99 on this game, let alone more money I may or may not have to fork out to find out what happens?
The story is also filled with so many missing links; there’s one part of the game when you’re in the 19th century, and then as soon as you spot something (I won’t say what) on the wall, the Doctor has been transported to the 17th century without his sonic screwdriver whilst River Song is still stuck in the 19th. The story doesn’t explain why or how this happened; you understand who’s involved in this part of the story, but nothing that helps explain everything.
Matt Smith’s performance as the Doctor was probably one of the highlights of the game though; even when voice acting, he’s still as good as he is on the television show (perhaps the fact that he was doing motion capture work probably helped him with that). However, Alex Kingston playing River Song, oh what a terrible performance. Alex Kingston is brilliant playing River Song in the television show; but when she’s in a studio voice acting, it’s just a horrible performance. I don’t have anything against her, because I actually like the character of River Song, but in this game, I wasn’t a fan. Not to mention the actual lip syncing to the characters in what few cut scenes there were in the game was atrocious. Even the subtitles were poorly written and implemented.
But the worst thing about the dialogue throughout the game was the character AI. When playing, sometimes you’d have to hide from enemy AI. For some stupid reason, the developers decided to give these characters some lines to say which they would never ever say in the television series, like “This area is clear. I haven’t checked over there yet” or “HA! The storm has scared the monsters off” or something along the lines. This makes playing the game very awkward, considering that the AI just won’t ever shut up. What’s worse? They’re talking to themselves. I mean the dialogue got so bad, that I had a hard time believing the Dalek’s performance. And they don’t even have normal voices for crying out loud.
The game is set out to be a 3D side scroller; 3D models in a side scrolling world. At first, the concept seems like an interesting one, only for things to look real silly for the Doctor and River. There are moments when perhaps you’d have to cross a room by climbing along a pipe above you, but the awkward thing is, the pathway you were on (if this were not a side scroller) actually leads to the area you’d be climbing to. What was the point in taking the risk climbing over then? This is not what the Doctor would do in the television series. The least the game could have done was done a 90 degree turn like the game tends to do a lot throughout the game. There are also moments when perhaps there’s something blocking your path; it just confuses me because even though you know it’s a side scroller, you just want the Doctor and River to just walk around the contraption in their way. But then I suppose if that were the case, there would be no gameplay.
Perhaps the gameplay might hold the game together then? You’d be wrong to think that. When traversing through the game, you might come across a door you may need to open, or a set of pipes you may need to cross, all which can’t be activated until you solve a puzzle. For the first few hours, you’re introduced to the puzzles of the game, which vary from syncing up wavelengths to directing means into lights to connecting up shapes like dominoes from one point to the other. At first, they can be rather challenging and fun, but the problem is that throughout the entire game, there’s only about 6 puzzles which you may encounter, and what’s worse is that perhaps you may even encounter the very same puzzles you might have done 30 minutes ago with the same exact strategy. And whether you consider this next point good or bad (depending on how frustrated you are with the game), sometimes a Cyberman or Dalek may get stuck in a wall. This just completely ruins the whole experience when there’s no danger because they’re stuck in a wall.
To make things even worse, there are some missions that take way too long to do, for example near the beginning of the game, there’s a mission where you have to lead the Cybermen up to a security room that is protected by glass you cannot break yourself; just so that you can solve a puzzle. The problem here is that the Cybermen take a good 3 minutes just to reach you, so you’re essentially waiting 3 minutes before they reach you. And then once they’ve broken the glass, you then have to lead them downstairs and traverse back upstairs so that you can just do the puzzle. What’s worse is that the puzzle you have to complete is one of the trickier ones, meaning by the time you’ve cracked one of the two computers that you’re required to crack, the Cybermen have nearly got you. And if you die, you have to do it ALL OVER AGAIN.
The checkpoint system was also implemented horrendously. Sometimes you might come so close to completing a tricky level, except you die soon after. Then when you go back to the checkpoint, the checkpoint itself is about 10 minutes prior to completing the level (take the Cybermen mission I just told you about for example). And if you’re near completion to a level (but you wouldn’t know that) and you decide “I think it’s time for me to stop playing this game for today” and then the next day you decide to carry on playing, you’d be required to play the level all over again, because you’re required to resume the game not from where you quit the game, but by what mission you were playing.
To make this game even worse, when you encounter a type of puzzle you haven’t tried yet, you may need to read a tutorial on how to complete the puzzle. The problem here is that if you’re under siege, you might be reading the tutorial, only for a Cyberman to come along and kill you… whilst you’re reading the tutorial; the least the game could do is at least pause everything that’s happening in the game whilst I’m reading the tutorial.
Other things that were terrible with this game include animation (sometimes River Song would just jump pointlessly or just get in your way), the idea of trying to protect your partner from getting hurt in near impossible situations (take the final mission for example) and how your enemies give up so easily to try and find you; a Dalek would not give up until it has killed you.
I think the only things good about it’s game is Matt Smiths performance, the decent level design (apart from the horrible graphics), the option for two player co-op (but it has to be local co-op), a few funny easter eggs, and the cool collectables which you can find, which include finding hats for the Doctor or finding missing page pieces for River Song’s diary.
I watched the credits, and from what I saw, Supermassive Games only had 1 QA tester, so no wonder the game got released filled with bugs and problems. I had high hopes for this game, only for them to be destroyed. If you want a better game experience, you’d actually be better off playing the Doctor Who Adventure Games on PC. They were actually decent, Amy (Karen Gillan) could actually voice act in it, and best of all, ARE FREE.