An ambitious attempt but too under-developed to really stand out

User Rating: 6 | Spider-Man: Edge of Time X360
After weeks on contemplating whether to buy Spider-man: Edge of Time (I didn't fancy dropping a full £40 on launch for a six to seven hour long game) when Black Friday gave me the chance to get it for a staggering £2.99, I couldn't say no.

The story is interesting and quite ambitious, revolving around modern-day Amazing Spider-man and Spider-man 2099 working together across time to stop a dystopian future from occurring. This means that throughout the game the action switches between the two and also between different timelines (Amazing is mainly in the present day, 2099 is mainly in, well, 2099), which works well as it means you never get too bored of playing as just one Spider-man. The chemistry between the two characters as they communicate across time is spot on, and their banter-filled dialogue is perfect. Infact, the voice-acting of Amazing Spider-man is probably my favourite of all the versions of the character in both video games and in films, as it portrays the sarcasm and the cockiness of the character brilliantly.

However, the story does in many ways feel under-developed. The game advertises the whole 'two timelines' thing in a way that suggests the actions of one Spider-man will affect the other one. While this is technically true, these affects are all scripted as part of the game. It would have been nice to give the characters multiple choices to make and ways to play sections of the game, which would truly change the way another section of the game plays out.

The way the villains are handled also feels quite under-developed. A DNA 'copy' of Black Cat appears as a boss half way through, but her appearance isn't exactly explained properly, and is only briefly summarised in the bios section of the main menu. Famous villain Doctor Octavious also makes an appearance, but doesn't actually do anything. It feels like he is only there as an excuse for the game's recurring boss, Anti-Venom, to gain the use of Doc Oc's mechanical tentacles later on. Mary Jane also makes an appearance, but again it seems added on to explain a way for Amazing and 2099 to bond with each other.

So just as the story has its moments, so does the actual gameplay. It's basic beat-em-up, button-mashing action, which does let you create pretty impressive combos fairly easily. The best ability though is definitely the evade move which, instead of letting you simply dodge an incoming attack, lets you avoid the hit and move across the other side of the room in speedy fashion. The manoeuvre also differs between the Spideys, with Amazing moving at ultra-speed so it looks like a bit like The Flash and 2099 creating a hologram of himself that the enemies fight instead.

However, like the story, the combat does have some issues. While you can easily complete the game by just using the basic controls, being able to pull off the 'special' moves is overly complicated. To perform these you need to fill up an 'overdrive' bar, but this takes longer than it should. And when you do eventually pull off a special move, it feels so underwhelming that the time it took to build it up seems wasted. Also, none of the enemies have a specific way of being defeated, meaning that they can all die with a combination of X, Y, X, Y. Even Spider-man's patented web-shot ability feels weak against practically all enemies, like it has only been included because 'it's Spider-man'.

Edge of Time does divert from this style of gameplay in the form of free-falling sections where Spidey has to drop down hundreds of floors at a time to get to the bottom, but after repeating them several times they do start to become frustrating, as the latter ones require you to have almost Spider-man like reflexes to manoeuvre past obstacles at break-neck speed. Infact, the game is littered with frustrating moments that seem so straightforward but make you want to throw the controller through the screen. Simple things, like getting a rocket to chase you to blow up a door and one particular boss battle, become so bitty and annoyingly difficult for no apparent reason that they spoil the general flow of the game.

I'm not obsessed with getting achievements but I'll give them a go if they seem straightforward enough. One of the game's achievements is to get a 200-hit combo, which is only possible in two short sections of the game. Infuriatingly, both of these sections decide to disrupt the action with unnecessary few-seconds-long cut-scenes, which will ruin your combo. At one point I got to 199 before the game decided to cut back to the other Spider-man without warning. Moments like this just add to the levels of frustration you will have throughout the game.

The game does have some replay value in the form of challenges and collectibles to go back and collect after you've finished, as well as the chance to unlock new costumes and play on hard mode. Some may feel inclined to go back just to get the achievements, as the game does tease you by giving you so many during general game progression it leaves you with just a handful to go back and get. As I mentioned earlier, if the game actually gave you the chance to 'change time' then a second play-through might seem more appealing, but going back just to complete a few of the challenges would just feel like a slog.

Overall, Spider-man: Edge of Time was a decent experience for the incredible price I paid, but because of the little frustrating moments that add up over the course of the game and the interesting but annoyingly under-developed story, it sadly doesn't live up to its potential.
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