Following 2010’s exceptional title Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Beenox has returned to bring us Spider-Man: Edge of Time. This time, however, the number of Webslingers has been reduced, leaving us with only The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara. These two heroes are brought together due to the time-traveling work of Walker Sloan, who uses his newly developed technology to found the Alchemax corporation long before it was originally established, thus creating new realities for each Spider-Man. They team up using a special link to communicate, even though they remain within their respective time periods, in hopes of setting the world right again.
With the inclusion of Anti-Venom and the “death of Spider-Man” in this latest title, surely Beenox can outdo their work from last year, right?
Edge of Time opens up with The Amazing Spider-Man and Anti-Venom duking it out. This does not end well for the iconic Webhead, and the game leaves us gazing upon his dead body. Jumping forward into the future, Spider-Man 2099 is hot on the heels of Walker Sloan (Fun Fact: He is voiced by Val Kilmer). This leads to the startling discovery that Sloan has prepared a Gateway to send himself back in time to create Alchemax many years before it’s original establishment. Seeing this as a major issue, Spider-Man 2099 dives into the Gateway after Sloan, but not before the damage is done. Stuck in between timelines, future Spidey witnesses the death of the Webslinger from the 1970’s. Upon returning to his time, O’Hara notices the immediate change the world around him has taken on and locates stored DNA of Peter Parker to talk to him through a chronal link across time. It’s a rather complicated science that the game will oversimplify and brush aside time and time again.
The story itself is intriguing, watching two iconic superheroes battle against time itself, but the real pleasure comes from the storytelling. As one Spider-Man progresses through a level, they are given updates via pictures that appear in the bottom right of the screen. For example, at one point Spider-Man 2099 is struggling to defeat a large robot. To remedy this, The Amazing Spider-Man disassembles the same robot in the past, thus destroying him in the future. This mechanic appears constantly throughout the game, allowing player to change both past and future through their actions (although it’s all scripted) to aid each other in reaching their goals.
The voice actors of O’Hara and Parker bring out their characters’ personalities expertly. Peter Parker will deliver those cheesy one-liners we’ve come to expect from him. Miguel O’Hara contrasts this nicely by taking a more serious tone with the occasional snarky comment thrown in for good measure. Let’s not forget the absurd use of the word “shock” by O’Hara which is clearly a replacement for another modern-day expletive. The vocal performance boosts the interactions between both heroes and makes their banter enjoyable to listen to. Beenox wanted to make two distinct characters, with all of their similarities and differences, and in this regard they succeeded.
When playing as the infamous Wallcrawler, one would expect that the flashy and fluid combat we’ve seen before would be present here. I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case in Edge of Time. The combat doesn’t hold that level of flair or variety of previous iterations. Combos are very basic, leaving players with basic attacks, strong attacks, and web shots. The worst offense of all is that the most iconic part of Spider-Man’s arsenal, his webbing, is the most underused combat tactic in the entire game. Its only real purpose is to put turrets out of commission temporarily. Besides that, this game quickly devolves into a bare bones beat ’em up. You’d think this would be countered by the upgrade system, but even that does little to change the feel of much by the end of the game. Even worse, each Spider-Man doesn’t try hard to differentiate from the other one. The primary variation comes in the form of the special attacks. O’Hara can leave what amounts to a holographic dummy to fool enemies while Parker can run/attack at great speeds, leaving a trail of ghost images to further accentuate his speed. However, this simply isn’t enough to create multiple play styles like Shattered Dimensions achieved, and that’s a shame due to the characters’ contrasting personalities.
Almost as repetitive as the combat, we have the environments. Each one takes the player throughout Alchemax, which is comprised entirely of similarly-looking laboratories and hallways. Players will become overly familiar with tight corridors and small rooms in a short amount of time. Remember playing Portal 2 and seeing the different versions of Aperture as it evolved over time? Beenox could have taken their past/future story and used it to show off some wonderful contrasting imagery in each universe. Instead, we only get glimpses of the different worlds outside of Alchemax. Whether you’re running through a concrete corridor or a slightly more metallic one (probably searching for your millionth key), the overall visual experience won’t do too much for you.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time can be completed in around 6 hours and, for some, that’s merely one sitting with the game. The game’s length is disappointing as 6 hours of gameplay is hard to justify shelling out $65. Then again, any additional hours of the game’s repetitive combat, missions and environments may have proven too much for some people’s sanity.
Coming shortly after Shatter Dimensions, Edge of Time manages to disappoint by eliminating many of the wonderful components that were contained within its predecessor. The storytelling (and the story to some extent) coupled with skilled voice acting aren’t enough to cover up the flaws this game carries. The combat doesn’t impress and barely grows by the time the credits roll. Add this to the uninspired environments along with the unimaginative objectives they hold and you’re left with a game that looked promising as a concept, but ultimately fell short of its true potential in nearly every aspect.
[Editor’s Note: Spider-Man: Edge of Time was reviewed on the Xbox 360 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Spider-Man: Edge of Time Review,