Nukezilla Review: Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock (PS3)
Everyone knows that licensed video games, as a general rule, suck. Sometimes, however, there can be exceptions: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, for example. The Walking Dead, certainly, and Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. And who could forget the seminal classic Rugrats: The Search For Reptar? So when the previous series of Doctor Who games were fairly well received, I was cautiously optimistic that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock might be added to the “pretty-decent-to-actually-good” club of licensed games.
Oh boy, was I wrong.
It’s not that The Eternity Clock is bad, per se. It’s a game that actually has quite a lot going for it: Matt Smith returns to voice The Doctor, and Alex Kingston is great as always voicing River Song. The game has enough references to keep fans happy and moreover attempt (and mostly succeed) to fit into the show’s canon. The game also went the Arkham City route of pitting The Doctor against many of his biggest foes, instead of risking fan outrage by focusing on just one Big Bad. The sound effects are taken directly from the show, and the music is atmospheric and appropriate.
All of these are elements that could add up to a good – if not great – licensed game. Unfortunately, that’s where my praise ends, for if you’ll pardon my pithy phrasing, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock would be better titled as Doctor Who: Eternally Broken.
The Eternity Clock involves The Doctor and River Song rushing across time and space collecting the broken pieces of the titular Eternity Clock, a time traveler’s dream MacGuffin that records everything that ever has been or will ever be. It’s also a developer’s tragic tale of lagging frame rates and wholly uninspired platforming. A testament of fully uncooperative AI, frustratingly repetitive timed puzzles, and baffling design choices. I am still astounded by developer Supermassive Games’ decision to design a fully three-dimensional game – complete with motion capture of Matt Smith – and only program the mechanics necessary to turn it into a 2D side scroller that frankly would likely have been received better as an iOS or Android game than a console release (hell, even the iOS and Android game, The Mazes of Time, was a proper 3D game).
While it’s worth noting that developer Supermassive Games has since release a massive patch addressing some of the issues – primarily the buggy-as-hell AI – it is in effect a Band Aid on a gaping chest wound: an admirable effort, but ultimately worthless to fixing the overall problem. Fans and gamers alike won’t miss much giving The Eternity Clock a pass.
This review is day nineteen of the December 2012 Nukestravaganza.