Developer Beenox produced what I felt was a fairly well thought out and received Spider-Man title with Shattered Dimensions, so when Edge of Time was introduced and revealed to have only two versions of Spider-Man in it, I thought that things could’ve been tightened up and the gameplay solidified a little. My thoughts were still along this track when I started playing Edge of Time, but then that line was quickly derailed.
The story revolves around Miguel O’Hara (Spider-man 2099) who while spying on an evil scientist, in his time, watched Peter Parker die at the hands of Anti-Venom while stuck between timelines in the time portal. As current time Spider-Man gets killed, Spider-Man 2099’s world changes dramatically around him – causing him to want to go back and help Spider-Man to restore his world. Using some DNA that was stored in 2099, he creates a connection between the two superheroes allowing them to have conversations through time at a point in time that was before he was killed. Whew – and this is just the opening cinematic.
As the player, you take control of both Spider-Men in alternating sections of the game. Each hero starts in his expected timeline, but a not so shocking twist has them change places for a spell; but honestly, it didn’t quite matter when or where they were, as the gameplay was identical in either world. Most interesting, and by interesting I mean disappointing, is that both worlds take place inside of a single building – meaning that wide open areas to swing from webs is extremely hard to come by, therefore crippling the feeling of freedom that Spidey deserves. Because the game involves time travel, quantum causality and the same building – these items are used as a convenient crutch to make life difficult or easier for the hero in the future. For example, on more than one occasion – the actions of Parker in the present time will cause walls to be constructed at some point in time, thereby blocking your progress on the fly in the future. Additionally, destroying items in the past/present will also make things easier in the future – with a little Back to the Future style erasing of bosses and roadblocks.
Combat is simple, and only slightly varied between the two Spider-Men. Future Spidey has technology on his side rather than a mutation, so hyperspeed and decoys are used rather than the world famous Spider Sense when it comes to evading attacks. An experience system is included in the game which is required to unlock upgrades to health, special moves and stamina. Because of the multiple character aspect and the shared experience there are times when a specific upgrade might be useful for one character in an upcoming section right after you spend the points on the other’s skill. It’s slightly frustrating but never an issue which prevents forward momentum in the game.
What can impede the progression through is frustration, pure and simple. For example, some levels within the Spider-Man 2099 phase of the game have you diving through what sometimes is an elevator shaft, complete with rotating obstacles, small gaps and moving pillars – die in these sections and if you happen to have been privy to a cutscene prior to the segment, you get to sit through the cut scene again. While not a big deal in a lot of titles due to the ability to skip scenes you’ve seen before, that’s sadly not an option here. Frustration also breeds boredom as the scenery is quite static, and drab – even in the future world. Would it hurt the game to have locales that don’t involve air conditioning being a requirement?
Spider-Man Edge of Time isn’t a completely bad game, as the mechanics are all in place and nothing really is broken within the game – but it’s not necessarily what I’d call a good game either. It entertained me for a short amount of time, but was otherwise a forgettable experience – especially when compared to another more recent comic book themed title that has been released. Fans of Shattered Dimension might get some enjoyment out of it, but may also be missing the two other Spider-Men to help spread out the rougher sequences, but the average gamer would be better off with a rental or bargain bin purchase here.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360