Review: Spider-Man: Edge Of Time
Amazing and 2099 Spider-Man return in this time-bending, quantum causality causing, web-slinging adventure. Can it hold up to the success of Shattered Dimensions?
- Worth The Time?For Spider-Man fans, yes. For pure action adventure fans, no.
- Things LovedThe interesting story, fantastic dialogue script, great voice acting, interesting "Quantum Causality" effects, some interesting boss fights
- Things HatedOverly easy and boring combat, repetative objectives, environments are bland and boring, no real places to actually swing around, confined gameplay space, completely linear, graphics are not that impressive, Spiderman 2099 free fall sections occur way too much, some boss fight are montomous and cheap.
- RecommendationWeb Heads will certainly finds tons of enjoyment here. Sadly, if you aren't the biggest Spider-Man fan out there, you may feel somewhat disappointed by this title. It does nothing special, but it isn't horrible either. Pick it up if you have some spare cash, and feel like mashing some buttons for the next few hours.
- Name: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PS3 and Xbox 360
- Developer: Beenox
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R450.00 (Xbox 360 and PS3)
- Reviewed On: PS3
Spider-Man games have always been a bit of a “touch and go” subject in the gaming world, with their quality standards often varying in radical degrees. From the awful first movie adaption, to the brilliant sequel film adaptation, and then back to the boring third film flop, these games seem to either hit the mark perfectly or miss entirely. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was one of those that seemed to hit it spot on, giving you four different Spider-Men, four different universes, four different play styles, four different art directions etc etc. It helped keep the game interesting, even though that too eventually boiled down to monotony. Spider-Man: Edge of Time, however, strips these varying styles in favour of a more streamlined experience, as well as only giving you two Spiders to worry about. Sadly, the monotony and shallow combat seems to have worsened too, making Edge of Time more of a step side-wards rather than forward.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time wastes no time getting started, and from the minute you insert the disc into your console, you are propelled into the world of 2099, the time of Miguel O’Hara and Spider-Man 2099. Miguel is keeping a close eye on Alchemax, a mega corporation in the distant future with some shady business corporate members and scientists. One of these is Walker Sloan (voiced by Val Kilmer), a scientist that envisions jumping into the past and founding Alchemax long before its time. Clearly, this is a big no-no in the world of time travelling, as soon after he succeeds, both Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara’s worlds are changed drastically. Peter Parker no longer works as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, instead working a desk job at Alchemax. In 2099, Alchemax has taken over the corporate world, and the whole world lives under its shadow. Cue a joint effort by both the Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099.
Through some clever DNA handiwork, Miguel establishes a link through which he and Peter Parker can communicate. This effectively sets the stage for what is Edge of Time’s strongest feature. The constant banter between both heroes creates a stark contrast on their different personalities, and this often leads to humorous and quirky dialogue. Amazing Spider-man continues with his “So bad, they’re good” punch lines and puns, while Spider-Man 2099 has a more harsh and serious tone. The dialogue would be nothing without the fantastic voice-acting however, and it should be noted that Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes give it their all when portraying Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 respectively. Listening to Peter Parker make wise cracks about the possibility of a Spider-Man musical is extremely funny, though listening to Spider-Man 2099 replace every possible profanity with the word “shock” can get a bit much.
Not far into the game, both Peter and Miguel realise that their actions in their respective times have adverse effects on one another, allowing them to twist the timeline in their favour, and sometimes to a great disadvantage. Spider-Man 2099 may become over run by failed mutant experiments, leaving it up to Peter Parker to find the test subjects in his time and destroy them before they ever appear in Miguel’s time. Another instance, once Peter and Miguel have traded times, is where Peter is trapped by two walls closing in on each other, and it is up to Spider-Man 2099 to find the Alchemax building blueprints and alter them to make sure those walls never existed. These moments create a fantastic sense of tension, as the life of one hero rests in the others hands. The small corner picture in picture presentations help add to this tension, but it always feels as though Beenox missed a great opportunity here. Rather than allowing you to run around destroying everything in an attempt to see how it affects the future, all these “Quantum Causality” changes are scripted, making the prospect of considering how your actions will affect the future boring.
Combat is where things begin to really fall apart in Edge of Time. Both Spidey’s have an array of different moves that they can employ on the nearest baddie, with specific buttons handling attacks, another dealing air launches and lastly web attacks. Sadly, because combat is overly easy, you will probably end up using the same combo over and over again, leading to extended periods of button mashing. Collecting some glowing orbs along the way allows you to upgrade these attacks, and purchase new flashy combos, though you never really feel the need to upgrade your arsenal, purely because combat ceases to evolve. The dodge ability from Shattered Dimensions has also been removed, so you can no longer evade attacks with the endless grace that Spider-Man processes. Instead, you’re forced to take it in the face and move on.
Each Spider-Man also has unique special attacks, which can almost be used all the time since the cooldown rate is almost non-existent. Amazing Spider-Man is granted some amazing super-speed abilities, allowing you to become a ghost to enemies, with their attacks slicing right through you. Spider-Man 2099 apparently moves so fast that enemies can’t track his movements, allowing you to set up a decoy of yourself for enemies, missiles and bullets to focus on it rather than you for a few seconds. While these abilities are occasionally fun to use, they also highlight a smaller, but highly annoying flaw. Combat is overly flashy in Edge of Time, with highlighted paths marking your attacks and all sorts of sparks flying out of enemies when you hit them. Don’t get me wrong, flashy visuals aren’t a bad thing at all, but they do become an issue when they flood your screen to the point where you no longer know what the hell is going on.
Objectives are also extremely repetitive and boring in Edge of Time. For the most part, you spend your time beating up enemies for access keys, tapping a button to force open a door, heading through corridor after corridor and… well that’s pretty much it. You never really even know when the game has begun, partly due to the fact that the tutorial feels like it engulfs the entire game, as you are constantly kept on the same path like a slave, commanded by increasingly repetitive and annoying text pop-ups. Luckily, most of the boss fights are a lot more exciting, especially the final cinematic, explosion filled finale. Then again, boss fights like Black Cat are annoying and frustrating, forcing you to do the exact same thing three times and placing you back at the beginning if you fail. Just as in Deus Ex, the core gameplay and boss fights give off the sense that they were made by different companies, as they don’t fit well together at all.
Edge of Time also restricts and limits the most exciting power that Spider-Man processes; being able to swing around at great speed. All the rooms are small and tight, never allowing you to truly flex your muscles and swing around with exact accuracy. This means no dive-bombing enemies, no hasty escapes in the heat of battle, and most importantly no grounds to fool around for endless hours. The game wants you to walk, and let’s be serious, when you’re Spider-Man you don’t want to walk. You are also able to web-zip to certain surfaces, but this system feels fragile and often doesn’t work in the way you want it to. Thankfully, there are tons of freefall sections that Spider-Man 2099 takes part in, providing an exhilarating rush and bringing forward the questions of how tall the Alchemax building really is. If you find the strength to not thow your controller against the wall in some periods of frustration, these sections provide a much needed break from the serious monotony that the game throws at you.
Visually, Edge of Time is a massive step backward when compared to Shattered Dimensions. One of the outstanding features in that title was the distinct and different visuals that complimented the individual universes. That has been stripped from Edge of Time, with both time periods looking exactly the same, despite the massive time difference. Amazing Spider-Man no longer has the distinct black outline that used to make him stand out in a comic book style, and even the year 2099 seems to have become a lot more dull. Corridors and environment are repeated with a slight “flashy, futuristic” aesthetic added, but at its core it’s the same metal filled, office looking corridor that you passed 5 minutes ago. After you finish the short 7 hour campaign, there really isn’t much else to do. Web of Challenges returns, with many unlockable goodies for serious Web Heads to unlock. Alternate costumes, story memos, and more await those you dare take on the story once more. Enemies can also be scaled up in difficulty for a sort of New Game+ mode, though the overly simple combat and repetitive objectives will make it very hard for anyone to pick up the controller and start this adventure again.
Sadly, Edge of Time has come as a massive disappointment for those expecting the same type of quality that was present in Shattered Dimensions. The simple combat will bore you to tears soon after beginning, and once you come to the realisation that all your objectives seem to have to real weight behind them you will wonder why you are even playing at all. That is until you realise how fantastic the voice acting and script is, staying true to the classic Spidey humour and pleasing fans of the source works in every way possible. It well and truly is the most outstanding aspect of the game, and while it’s not enough to make this the Spider-Man game fans deserve, it does keep it from being a complete failure.