Reviewed: October 4, 2011
Released: October 4, 2011
It was just over a year ago when Beenox introduced us to the multi-dimensional world of Spider-Man in Shattered Dimension, giving gamers the rare opportunity to play as any of four unique versions of their favorite web-slinger. In Spider-Man: Edge of Time we explore the evils of time travel with two of those versions in a fantastic story created by acclaimed Marvel writer, Peter David.|
The game opens in present day with Spider-Man going up against Anti-Venom in a brutal boss fight. Despite your best efforts to follow the pop-up tutorial hints you will eventually fall in battle (itís scripted), just as Spider-Man 2099 (aka Miguel OíHara) swings through a time portal to save you. Then we go backÖto the future where we learn what caused all this madness. It seems Walter Sloan, the CEO of Alchemax, has a time portal at his disposal and he plans to use it to go back in history and start his company a few decades ahead of schedule. Youíll hear bits and pieces of this diabolical plot as you navigate future-Spidey through a series of ventilation shafts and bio-detectors in what is likely one of the most original title and credit sequences in video game history.
Sloan does go back in time to the 70ís and the disastrous effects are seen almost immediately as the world of 2099 is reshaped into a much darker and more sinister place. Miguel is caught in the time rift so he is aware of the altered timeline, whereas everyone else simply accepts their transparent new fate. We bounce back to Peter Parker who is busy trying to make a date with Mary Jane while J.J. Jameson is ranting about Spider-Man and making a clever wink-wink joke about the ill-fated Broadway musical weíve been hearing about all this year, when suddenly, the present day world transforms to align with Sloanís changes. The Daily Planet is replaced with an Alchemax office and Peter is now a scientist, not a photographer, and J.J.; well, heís hosting some late-night talk show. Peter has just provided a sample of his DNA to the lab, which somehow allows Miguel to create a conversational link across time. Now, itís up to our two superheroes to undo Sloanís changes and restore the timeline.
Thatís pretty much all you need to know to get you started. Both Spideys are essentially in the same building, only 88 years apart, and we learn through lots of sci-fi banter that changes made in either time will affect what happens in the other, which is the major hook for what would otherwise be a fairly traditional brawler. Example; Anti-Venom tosses an elevator down a shaft at Spidey in 2011 and in 2099 the elevator becomes a closet. Miguel is trapped by a security system in 2099 so Peter smashes the computer in 2011 and now Miguel is fighting off a giant robot. Spidey proceeds to smash the robotics lab in 2011 and said robot fizzles from existence in 2099 and is replaced with a group of guards. Itís a nice cause and effect dynamic across time that is thankfully not abused, so it remains fresh and clever throughout.
Regardless of which Spider-Man youíre playing at any given time you will have a vast and varied arsenal of combat moves at your disposal, and the list can grow and get upgraded as you collect gold spider icons and absorb thousands of XP orb scattered about the levels in Pac-Man dot fashion. Sure, itís kind of gamey to have these trails of purple orbs showing you the way, but it is fun to figure out the various zip points and swing arcs to collect them all. The game design is fairly repetitive in that youíll enter a new area, fight a bunch of baddies using all sorts of cool offensive and defensive moves, loot all the orbs and move on to the next area to do it all again. But what keeps it from getting stale is the near-infinite ways to chain your attacks and create all these dazzling combos that are so Spider-Man.
Almost every section you enter will have an optional challenge associated with it. Just hit the Back button to accept the challenge and earn bonus XP. Youíll also want to frequent the upgrade screen where you can acquire new skills specific to either Spider-Man as well as abilities shared across time. With dozens of abilities, rewarding challenges, and that intricate web menu full of additional content, this is one game that is going to last a long time.
Visually, the game blew me away. The cutscenes are worthy of seeing in your theater and the presentation is beyond Hollywood, from the slick camera angles to the brilliant credit sequence and even the cool PiP portal that allows us to see and hear whichever Spidey we arenít playing at the moment. Peter will be getting his butt kicked by Anti-Venom and we see Miguel rushing to his rescue in the corner insert. And then you have those epic 2099 freefall sections - very exciting.
The audio is the perfect match to the pristine graphics with outstanding voice performances by Josh Keaton (Peter) and Christopher Daniel Barnes (Miguel) as well as Val Kilmer as the evil Dr. Sloan, Katee Sackhoff as Black Cat, and Laura Vandervoort as Mary Jane. While some of the banter between the two Spideys grew tiresome, it was a nice diversion during combat, and I never got tired of hearing Miguel work his trademark, SHOCKING, into his sentences. The rest of the audio including the energizing soundtrack and fantastic environmental and special effects are awesome and presented in an immersive Dolby Digital mix.
Edge of Time is divided in several major parts, each ending in a major conflict or boss fight, and each taking about two hours to work through making for about an 8-10 hour game, which isnít bad for a non-stop action brawler. And with loads of challenges and completion achievements to work for, there is plenty of reason to go back and play again.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time was an awesome surprise, proving, much like Shattered Dimensions, that the best games are the ones that arenít based on a movie license. In fact, I would like to see a movie based on this game Ė thatís how cool and original the story was. Whether youíre a die-hard Spidey fan or just looking for the next great action-fighting game, Edge of Time excels in every aspect of game design with solid combat, fun navigational puzzles, and one of the best cinematic presentations of any Spider-Man game to date. Check it out.