One hell of a paradox
Trying to capitalize on their success with last year?s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Beenox brings us now Spider-Man: Edge of Time. A new villain in the year 2099, Walker Sloan, is at the forefront of time-travel and finally cracking the fourth dimension. Working for Alchemax, Sloan uses the corporation?s mass resources for his own purposes though and constructs a time machine that propels him back into the 1970s. With over 100 years of future knowledge, Sloan pilfers many of the late 20th century?s great ideas years ahead of their conception in order to re-write history and the Alchemax company into his own image. Now, Spider-Men from two ages must work together across space and time in order to put things back the way they once were and close up the wormhole that Sloan has opened up with his time hopping.
There are a lot of good things that Beenox has done with the Spider-Man franchise to date and some of these things continue in Edge of Time. Unfortunately, they get away from two things that I feel are critical to any Spider-Man game dating back to Spider-Man for the N64/PS1: lots of web-slinging and lots of villains. With the entire game taking place inside a single building, you do a decent amount of wall-crawling, but there is not as much room as you?d like to swing and something that has been a staple I feel of all the great Spidey games of the past 10 years has been a fair amount of web-slinging. This lack of web-slinging makes Edge of Time feel more like a generic brawler whose heroes happen to occasionally walk on walls than a genuine Spider-Man game.
Also, Spidey?s Rogues Gallery is one of the most diverse in comics and is only trumped probably by Batman over at DC. So to see Beenox go from over a dozen classic villains in Shattered Dimensions to only a handful of low appeal ones in Edge of Time really felt like a punch to the gut that knocked the wind out of this game. Mind you, without giving anything away, fans of that old-school Spider-Man from the N64/PS1 will likely draw parallels to a new villain who appears in Edge of Time, but besides that fleeting moment of recognition, none of the villains featured in this game got me as excited as those from Shattered Dimensions.
Still, there is a lot of good in this game and fans of Spider-Man will likely walk away pleased with the overall experience. The story, written by original Spider-Man 2099 creator Peter David, is one of the more compelling Spidey tales I?ve seen in a while and has so many twists and turns that you?ll find yourself willingly falling further down the wormhole just to find out what is going to happen next.
Another brilliant aspect of the game is how fresh each chapter feels compared to most other brawlers out there. Bouncing back and forth between Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 feels like a new experience each time as they level up because their fighting styles and special powers are so different from one another.
We also see a huge upgrade with the return of the free-falling levels with Spider-Man 2099 that were introduced in Shattered Dimensions. Although you won?t be fighting any villains this time in elevator shafts and various other vertical corridors, you?ll be dodging a lot more obstacles and a new targeting reticule has been introduced that lets you know exactly where you?ll land on your current path, which makes dodging all those obstacles that much easier. No villains though may make it feel like a mini-game for some, but for me it was one of the most fun mini-games then that I?ve played in a while and are the levels I would replay the most in both Shattered Dimensions and here again in Edge of Time.
Throw in hysterical mid-level dialogue between the two Spider-Men because of a psychic link they have through the wormhole and the relationship between the two becomes a fast growing bond that is enjoyable for the player on a lot of levels. The dialogue is also very strong because Spider-Man 2099 is played by Spider-Man: The Animated Series star and Spider-Man Noir in Shattered Dimensions, Christopher Daniel Barnes, and Amazing Spider-Man is played by Spectacular Spider-Man star and Ultimate Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions, Josh Keaton, which only makes it feel all the more authentic for diehard Spidey fans.
All in all, Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a good game with a couple of flaws that keep it from being elite. The game play would have been perfect if Beenox could have shoehorned in some web-slinging and some more villains, but everything else is up there with some of the better Spider-Man games of the past in terms of combat and plot. The game may also be a little short in the grand scheme of things, clocking in at just under 10 hours for me, but with a bevy of collectibles and costumes to unlock, there is enough reason to come back to this a couple more times if you?re a diehard Spidey fan and is worth checking out at least once for the more casual fan.
SUMMARY: A lack of web-slinging and villains knocks this worthy Spider-Man tale down a couple of pegs in terms of a game, but should appease many Spidey fans out there overall.
- THE GOOD: Great plot, great action
- THE BAD: Not enough villains or web-slinging
- THE UGLY: My head exploding after trying to understand time-travel as explained by Spider-Man 2099
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.