Beenox and Activision startled audiences with their announcement of a new, movie license-free Spider-Man game spanning across 4 different dimensions and alternate Spider-Man universes. The end result was a satisfying and refreshing experience that finally did Spider-Man justice. Now after a full year, Beenox tries to up the ante once more and continue their gameplay that spans different universes with Spider-Man: Edge of Time. The question is, do they succeed and surpass their predecessor?
Edge of Time presents a more narrowed experience this time around, focusing on just two different versions of the wall-crawled, as opposed to the four seen in last year's game. It does seem a little underwhelming in comparison, but this reduction allows for a more fleshed out experience, and ultimately connects the dots in a more sophisticated manner.
Beenox sought a far more cinematic experience and it is demonstrated with an incredibly impressive and immersive opening credit scene, as 2099 Spidey is sneaking through Alchemax "“ the big bad corporation that houses the entire game. You quickly find out that Miguel is tracking Walter Sloan (voiced by Val Kilmer) who's set on powering a generator that will "“ as you may have already guessed "“ send him back in time to shape the past in his favour, and so naturally you are here to prevent that.
It's worth noting that the story is written by none other than Peter David, who fans will know as being one of the original creators of the Spider-Man 2099 comics. This adds a layer of authenticity to the whole package, and it really shows as the way everything unfolds feels like it is crafted by a vet of the series. Plot twists are handled well, giving players surprises along the way. You will also encounter an interesting set of villains such as Anti-Venom, Doctor Octopus, Black Cat, and a final boss which is quite a treat for fans.
Despite this good mix, the number of villains has been significantly reduced and it feels like a step back. But considering there are now two fewer Spider-Man universes to explore, it's easy to see why this constraint was apparently.
Thankfully Beenox kept a similar formula to last game. In other words, both wall-crawlers feel fresh and unique, offering subtle but notable differences. Spider-Man's not going to change much in terms of how he fights, swings or basically controls so there are tasteful differences that separate the two while keeping the core gameplay the same across either dimension.New to the scene is the use of the left trigger, which activates heightened speed, allowing Amazing Spider-Man to move fast enough to phase through lasers (for puzzles) or 2099 Spider-Man to create a copy of himself as enemies become distracted by the alluring decoy. 2099 also has swifter combat, making use of his clawed gloves, his controls feels far more agile and quick in comparison. 2099 also has segments where you dodge objects while in free-fall, like in Shattered Dimensions. These get progressively harder as you go through the game.
One thing that certainly sets Edge of Time ahead of its predecessor is its use of the time-hopping theme. Throughout the entirety of the campaign you are reminded of Newton's famous law that for every action, there is in an equal and opposite reaction. There are moments in the game where you are walking through the environment and in a sudden flash, it completely changes based off of the contextual actions you did previously. There are newspaper headlines that flash in the bottom corner with different events happening as you're trying to set time in proper order. Enemies will change into other enemies, sometimes more powerful foes. And at all times, you are conversing with the other Spider-Man, giving you the feeling of being connected to them throughout this journey; more-so than in Shattered Dimensions.
Returning once more is the Web of Challenges: in-game achievements scattered throughout each level that you accomplish as you progress through the game. Each challenge offers experience, or in some cases unlockable costumes. Experience is used to unlock unique abilities for either Spider-Man, or abilities that are shared between the two.
Experience can also be gained from purple orbs peppered throughout the levels, and from fallen enemies. Hidden golden spiders also make a return, granting health and stat upgrades. You are also ranked based on how well you execute each wave of enemies and can earn gold medals (spiders).
The ability to evolve your combat is a nice addition, but the list itself seems rather limited. In fact it's all too easy to cling to the tried-and-true, light-light-heavy-heavy combo "“ a universal combo-friendly attack used by action games such as these. In many ways, this feels like a step backwards from last year's game. Light puzzle segments are also placed between the action-heavy moments to keep a steady pace.Aside from the decent cast of characters, the foot-soldiers are as varied in type, but feel all too familiar. They come in flavours like robots, human soldiers, mutated symbiotes, zombie-like mutations, heavy mechs, flying robots, and snipers. Again, the diversity is at least a nice touch, but a truly different class in skill between each type would have been greatly appreciated. Once you use your decoy, super-speed, or by pressing both sticks together to use a super move called "time paradox" locking people in place for a short amount of time, you can wallop any enemy with the same string of attacks. It's frustrating, because it's something that shouldn't be a problem.
Like its predecessor, Edge of Time comes jam-packed with collectables, bonus art and loads of costumes to change to your favourite Spider-Man.
Fans that have a Shattered Dimensions save file will be treated to a host of costumes right off the bat. It is hilarious fun to swing around in serious moments dressed as the Bombastic Bag Man. Beenox even went as far as to including your costume selection in real time cutscenes, which is a nice touch.
Visually speaking, Spider-Man: Edge of Time is very polished. The presentation alone is the most cinematic experience in any Spider-Man game and character models have great detail. Voice acting is terrifically done, with the Amazing Spiderman voiced by Josh Keaton. Spiderman 2099 is a more mature wall-crawler and sounds like he has his head on his shoulders. Christopher Daniel Barnes lends his voice talent to 2099, and fans that grew up in the 90s will instantly recognize his voice as being none other than the original Spiderman in the 1994 cartoon. As previously mentioned Val Kilmer is the main antagonist and performs a wonderful delivery. The styled camera work is fantastic, tastefully bringing the action close to you, or panning out to see the larger areas where you can swing freely.
While we're on that, it's worth mentioning again that there are parts of the game that have rather large and volumetric areas that can act as a mini-virtual playground. This brings back fond memories of when Spider-Man roamed freely through the streets of New York City. Perhaps this is a bit of a teaser for Beenox's next Spiderman game, due in 2012, which has been titled "The Amazing Spider-Man".
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a competent experience. The story is handled by a vet of the comics, and it shows with a well told, time-twisting tale. However, combat feels far too familiar and the visuals aren't going to win any awards. Having said that, the campaign has a decent length and there are plenty of collectables. If you're a Spidey-fan it's definitely worth checking out.
|Lots of bonus features and collectables.|
|Not enough bosses.|
|Variety of enemies is very lacklustre.|
|Combat feels far too familiar.|