It seems like the popularity of Spider-Man has waned a bit. Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire are not reprising their roles so a reboot is coming. The most recent reboot of Spider-Man was not Peter Parker and caused a lot of controversy amongst the fans. The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon series only lasted for season. However, Activision still has the license and handed the reins to developer Beenox after the successful Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. While they tackled four different Spider-Man incarnations successfully, they are splitting the time between two of them in Edge of Time.
Edge of Time starts out immediately when you hit Start. It is kind of jarring, and after a short prelude where you switch off between the two characters, you are shown the game title and a few of the credits, almost like Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Conviction. You don’t have to worry about enemies during this time, or which direction you push on the controller for that matter, as long as the controller is moving in a direction. It has one of the most cinematic intros
In Edge of Time, Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man 2099, discovers that Walter Sloan, the owner of Alchemax, has gone back in time to start his company earlier than originally intended. Miguel tries to stop him but falls short. He uses a chronal link to communicate with Peter Parker through time. (I’m guessing it is similar to Assassin’s Creed, except instead of reliving your ancestor’s memories you talk back at them through time.) Peter, now a scientist at Alchemax, and Miguel have to work together to get the timeline back in sync.
Following one of those time-paradoxes that littered Start Trek for a while, events that occur in Peter’s timeline have an effect in Miguel’s timeline, and vice-versa. For instance, at one point Miguel is fighting against a giant Sentinel-like robot. Peter has found the tech lab and found the original prototype. Peter destroys the prototype and the Sentinel Miguel is fighting against disappears. The effects aren’t always predictable though, as smaller, faster robots appear to fight against Miguel.
Since this time-paradox timeline change thing doesn’t work perfectly, Peter and Miguel banter with each other quite a bit. They argue with each other quite a bit because they both have different ideas of how to accomplish their goals. Christopher Daniel Barnes voices Miguel and Josh Keaton voices Peter. They know how to portray their respective Spider-Man since they voiced different incarnations of Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions, as well as Spider-Man in different cartoon series. Val Kilmer seems to be getting more roles as a voice actor lately, and he shows up as the voice of Walter Sloan.
While Shattered Dimensions featured four different art styles, Edge of Time stays consistent throughout. The graphics are crisp and sharp, similar to the 2099 universe from the previous game. You aren’t going to find any kind of cel-shading here. What is really impressive is when you activate your Spider-Sense. Everything turns purple except the red outlines of enemies and a green spider symbol that shows where your objective is for that area. This helps to make sure that you don’t get lost. When you activate either the Hyper-Sense as Peter, you see several different outlines of Spider-Man’s previous locations, making you feel like you are moving faster than the speed of light.
Combat is a major portion of Edge of Time. Long range and short range attacks are your bread and butter for beating down enemies. As you progress through the game you collect golden spiders that allow you to upgrade your health, shield, and stamina. Other items give you health and give you the ability to upgrade your arsenal of attacks. Some of the attack moves are shared between Peter and Miguel, but others are unique between the two. It will sometimes be difficult to decide whose moves to upgrade.
Spider-Man is known for his web-slinging and wall-crawling, but unfortunately there is a serious lack of these. There were also some issues with these mechanics as well. You can either web zip by quickly tapping the R2 button, or you can swing by holding down the R2 button. I had a problem where Peter would swing instead of zip unless I tapped very quickly. This made getting to specific areas frustrating. Not to mention, most of the time you are exploring hallways and corridors inside the Alchemax building. There are a few sections where you will wall-crawl to get where you want to go, but they are few and far between. Miguel also has some sections where he shoots down a pipeline and you have to control his movements so that he avoids hitting obstacles. While there is a small X on the screen to show you where he is headed, I practically had to memorize the pattern of the objects in front of me or else Miguel would end up bouncing around like a pinball and would be dead before I knew it.
The combat might have been more interesting if there had been more varieties amongst the enemies. The game basically follows the same pattern of getting to a room with enemies, dispatch them, meet some objective, find the enemy with the keycard so that you can move to the next room, and defeat a few more enemies again. There doesn’t seem to be much of a need for web-crawling or web-slinging. While I can appreciate the story being told, there doesn’t seem to be many places where these trademarks of Spider-Man are used.
One thing that Beenox did that set Edge of Time apart was the fact that there weren’t any load screens. An icon would show up when the game was saving, but there would be a short cutscene and you would be on your way again, sometimes switching universes in the process. It was so seamless that I didn’t realize that the action had started up again and it was ready for me to take control. It really kept me immersed inside the game. It also made me a bit scared to exit out because I wasn’t sure if my game had been saved and if I’d lose any progress.
I had high hopes with Spider-Man: Edge of Time after last year’s Shattered Dimensions. I thought that having two Spider-Man characters instead of four would bring about a more cohesive story and more refined gameplay. While the story was tighter and the effects of making changes in one universe to affect the other were interesting, the gameplay didn’t grab me as much as I thought it would.