Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

Do you remember the late '90s and early noughties, when tie-in games were invariably awful platform-adventures created with very little care.

Well it looks like the good doctor has used his time travelling police box to bring one of these back, re-skinned it, and put it out as The Eternity Clock for the Vita. The title is a relic of gaming's past, full of the typical issues you used to expect from tie-in games.

Faithful companion

It's a real shame, because Supermassive Games has clearly got a lot of love for the Doctor Who brand. The presentation is bang-on, with Matt Smith voicing the Doctor and Alex Kingston portraying his sidekick River Song.

Smith turns in a decent performance, while Kingston exudes intelligence and sexiness. The accompanying music is dark but exciting, sound effects are ripped straight from the show, and the atmosphere and beats of the story could easily have been taken from an episode of the TV series.

But in terms of technical prowess, it looks like K-9. Models all sport jagged edges, they move awkwardly through the worlds and periods that you visit, and the effects are woeful.

To give you an idea of how phoned-in everything looks, take the scene in which multiple waves of Cybermen are advancing towards you down a railway track. Each group that arrives in the distance simply appears - one moment the tunnel is empty, the next it's full. The effect is cheap and nasty.

Time stink

The gameplay is scarcely better. In its best moments, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a by-the-numbers 2D platforming adventure with a few puzzles thrown in. The straightforward brainteasers are decent enough (though they never venture far beyond Pipe Mania clone territory) and provide a welcome break from the mediocre platforming.

Hopping about the world is dull and often overly tricky thanks to twitchy controls. There's no inherent challenge in leaping from one easily reachable platform to the next, but the title doesn't do precise movements well at all.

There are also times when you'll need to push a box onto a pressure plate to keep an automated door open. It's not exactly thrilling.

When enemies are put into the mix, everything gets worse. If you're playing as River Song you have an ineffective blaster and lacklustre stealth abilities to beat your opponents. When you're the Doctor you often just have to leg it.

Oh, and of course more models on the screen ensures that the frame-rate dips, too.

With Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock we're reminded just how far licence-based games have come in the last five years. Sure, it's not often you'll get an absolute gem from a tie-in title, but they're generally decent enough. This release is far from decent, and it's unlikely to appeal to anyone but the most ardent Doctor Who fans.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

Though it captures the tone of the series well, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is an otherwise lifeless title with little in it to recommend
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.