Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Other formats available: PS3, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii.
Developer: Beenox.
Publisher: Activision.
Price: £39.99
Rating: 16

Get your secateurs at the ready, as Peter Parker kicks back from fighting crime, arachnid-style, and takes up the gentle art of topiary in Spiderman: Hedge of Thyme.

Ha ha, woooh, *wipes tear from eye*, yeah OK, so it wasn’t a great joke, but it was more entertaining than this latest eight-legged offering from stalwart Spiderman developers Beenox.

We can’t tell exactly what went wrong here, or, more to the point, why it went wrong. Beenox did the last Spiderman game, Shattered Dimensions, which was OK, so how they’ve managed to churn out this below-par sequel is beyond us. Although, to be fair, Shattered Dimensions is only a year old, and since then Activision has bought Beenox and perhaps shoehorned a surprise sequel into the 2011 schedule, in time for Christmas.

Who knows? Not us. We’re not here to discuss gaming politics anyway, at least not in the reviews section.

Trimming back the number of Spidermen featured in Shattered Dimensions (four) by half, Edge of Time features a 1960s Amazing Spiderman and his alter ego from 2099, who’s called Spiderman 2099.

Amazing starts off the game in this almighty scrap with the behemoth villain that is Anti-Venom, only to find Spidey ’99 speaking to him from the future, via a time rift that had handily been created in all the kerfuffle.

After helping Amazing Spidey, Spidey ’99 explains through the mists of time that he needs a favour in return, as the world the he lives in is being torn apart by some bad so-and-sos. As Amazing Spidey does certain things in the 60s, a ‘butterfly’-style effect take place in 2099 (sometimes good, sometimes bad), which pretty much forms the basis of EOT.

To be honest there’s a lot more to this time travelling lark in this game, but we quite frankly found it hard to follow. We were more puzzled by the lack of any clue as to what to do next at any time, often against completely unnecessary time limits.

Like most superhero games, Spiderman EOT is a third person action adventure, in which you leap or swing about the place, beating up drone-style robot thugs while levelling up through the collection of orbs.

In fact, while we’re here, does anyone give a monkeys about orbs any more? I seem to remember different colour orbs adding to XP or health or ‘mana’ as a great idea in legendary games like Devil May Cry or Onimusha, but surely in this day and age it’s time to move on? OK so we’ve slipped into gaming politics again, so let’s get some focus back.

Both Spideys have a similar move set, with standard melee attack, ranged melee and ranged shots of web. The latter of these serve only to distract your target until you get in close enough to go to work with your fists.

Each Spidey also has a ‘hyper-sense’ mode, activated by a press of the left trigger. For Amazing Spidey, this entails a few seconds of hyper-speed, where he darts about the place, dealing damage to multiple foes from great distance, while they look on, bewildered.

Spidey 2099’s is slightly less exciting, with left trigger activating a decoy mode, where two duplicates of him are fired out into the distance. These don’t actually do anything except fool the dumb enemies into attacking these mannequins, while you choose either to attack them from behind, or sneak past while they’re kept busy.

And that’s pretty much it. Time warps this way and that while each Spidey takes on a host of drones, with some predictable boss fights against familiar names thrown in. The voice acting is at least decent and the frame rate can’t be scoffed at, but with such average visuals as these, there’s no reason why it should drop any lower than 60fps.

We hate bad games. Not just for the obvious reason, but also because we love gaming, and we want to give every game a chance. But when Activision is asking for £40 of your money for this game, which is bettered by many £10 games on XBLA, we have to put our foot down and tell it like it is. Sorry, Beenox. And you too, Spidey.

Review by MarketZero

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