Doctor Who is British science fiction show that's been running since 1963. There have been numerous actors to take on the role of the time travelling adventurer and the show was revived back in 2005 by the BBC after a long hiatus. There have been a few stabs here and there at games based on the franchise, but they have been mostly more miss than hit. The BBC's own computer games that tied into the 11th Doctors most recent adventures, ably played by Matt Smith, were fairly Ok and managed to get the atmosphere of the show close enough to be fun.
So now it's the turn of the consoles once more and the PS3 to be exact, Doctor Who: the Eternity Clock is an attempt to bring the beloved character to life along with Alex Kingston's River Song in a new adventure that sees the Doctor trying to fix time itself.
The adventure takes place across various different time periods for one or two players, if there's no second player then the AI takes over. It is partly done in the style of those good old 2d platformers like Flashback and Out of this World (Another World over here) and gives the genre a Shadow Complex style 3d spin when the Doctor and River go around a corner and so on.
The background smoothly rotates to accommodate this and it's pretty well done.
The game requires platforming skills, puzzle solving and in some cases twitch-reflexes as later puzzles need a quick hand on the old sonic screwdriver, which is used for opening doors at a distance or activating different mechanisms.
You hop between time-streams, as the Doctor, or River Song. The Doctor is a puzzle solver and River has stealth and psychotropic lipstick as part of her repertoire. She can knock guards out and sneak around. Sometimes you'll be in the same time stream as each other and you'll solve puzzles together, other times you're separated by past and future streams.
The platforming controls are a little bit tricky at first and some of the sequences certainly don't seem like they'd be all that good for younger players, then again, some of the younger players have got better puzzle solving skills and twitch-reflexes than the older ones. River fares a little better and has some trickier gameplay to master, it often seems at times like a lack of responsiveness in the controls means that you get caught.
The puzzles themselves are varied and provide a good enough challenge, they echo the PC games quite a bit and you can see where the BBC has taken inspiration and the developers have followed suit.
Graphically the game is pretty nice, it's well detailed and there are the likenesses of the Doctor and River captured digitally. Matt Smith and Alex Kingston have also provided their vocal talents to the game and it's a treat to hear River Song in Eternity Clock since she has some of the better dialogue.
It runs at a nice pace, there aren't any obvious frame-rate issues with it and it remains solid throughout the experience.
The animations are a little stiff in places but it's only a minor thing.
The enemy AI varies from good to pretty bland, with typical attack patterns and predictable pathing movement. These of course are probably deliberate designs since Eternity Clock does feel a bit retro in that regard (not really a problem) and predictable paths were a trademark of early platformers.
The music is top notch as you might expect and whilst I am not a huge fan of Matt's 11th Doctor's theme, it has started to grow on me more and more from playing this game.
All in all it's a good solid game that's a right step forwards for Doctor Who games, I would still like to see something in full 3rd person on the consoles. Perhaps the BBC should look at things like Witcher 2 in terms of control or at least Knights of the Old Republic. Even a Broken Sword or Fate of Atlantis style game with those designs would be a great thing to see.
Only time will tell of course (pun intended).