Nearly every year the video game community is treated to a new Spider-man adventure. Some of them are awesome, (Ultimate Spider-man) and some of them are terrible (Spider-man Friend or Foe). Some of them are based on movies and many others are original tales simply set in the Spider-man Multiverse. Since there’s no movie this year, Edge of Time falls squarely into the later category.
Developed by Beenox, the same team that launched Spider-man Shattered Dimensions last year, Edge of Time takes two of the Spider-men from Shattered Dimensions and explores a somewhat predictable Time Travel plot. Spider-man 2099 and The Amazing Spider-man return leaving out Ultimate Spider-man and the well reviewed Noir Spider-man.
Many of the things said about last year’s game can also be said about Edge of Time. The combat engine is better than previous games and since its not open world, the visuals absolutely pop. Despite them having similar namesakes, Amazing and 2099 have distinctly different personalities. Their worlds are very different but the character’s move sets are similar enough to not throw you off when switching between the two heroes. After putting in about 5 hours I found that Spider-man 2099 was much easier to use with out dying, but that may just be my play style showing through.
The combat is very reminiscent of God of War. Several combos are mapped to the bumpers and face buttons and most enemies have a weakness that certain combos will exploit. Towards the end of the game your characters face large amounts of enemies at once, making the player use several different tactics simultaneously to get through sections. Again, all of this is straight out of last year’s game. What starts off as a friendly reminder that Shattered Dimensions was kinda awesome, quickly breaks down into a repetitive mess.
The entire game is set in a building, that’s right, one…singular…building. You get two versions of the building, the 2011 version and the 2099 version, but its still only one building. Beenox has taken a series that used to be open world and done the exact opposite. The idea is that what Peter Parker does to and in the building in 2011 effects what happens to the building in 2099 where Miguel O’Hara (Spider-man 2099) is fighting. The phrase Quantum Causality is thrown around a bit too liberally. I don’t know if Beenox trusted their players to understand what exactly was happening. This time mechanic isn’t used to create elaborate puzzles like in other games, its more just the framework for the story and all the missions you must complete.
Me being a sucker for time based stories caused me to really enjoy that aspect of the game. This, coupled with the strong voice acting of both Spider-men helps the game not cross the threshold of boring. Trust me, other aspects of the game would take care of the “boring”. There’s cliche video-game conventions all over Edge of Time and most of them are poorly contrived. Here’s the formula for Edge of Time’s gameplay. Perform a menial task, like destroy a DNA console or deactivate a replicating array, then perform that same task 2 more times, then kill some dudes. Walk through a door, then kill some dudes. Then, find and kill the one dude that has a key, then find the locked door. Then move on to the next room. Repeat those steps numerous times in different orders and that’s most of your game. The 2099 freefall sequences have returned and for a chunk of the game each Spider-man spends time in the other’s respective time line.
Curiously, Marvel has said in the past that the 2099 Spider-man is not necessarily in the same timeline and/or universe as Spider-man Prime. So, to see this game play-out as if Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara are in the same universe kinda breaks the fiction of previous comic books and in Beenox’s case the premise of Shattered Dimensions.
If Shattered Dimensions is set in 4 distinct universes and Edge of Time refers to the events of Shattered Dimensions (making them cannon), then in Edge of Time the things Parker changes in the past would not effect O’Hara in his time, because its a parallel dimension. All geekness aside, the separate dimensions thing isn’t a major point of contention. I completely understand the allure of writing a story that spans spans nearly 100 years, but the inconsistency should be noted. I know some of you are going to complain about it. More good than bad comes from them being in the same universe.
Where last years game felt like a step in the right direction with a fresh team of people working to innovate the series, Edge of Time feels a bit like treading water. More focus was put on the story framework than the events in the game. The combat is exciting and action packed and the Spider-men look great, but many of the tasks to complete are boring. The setting is too singular to carry an entire Spider-man game but, outside of Black Cat, the main enemies are well positioned and fun to battle. Oh it also has a really good plot twist about halfway through.
Verdict: Your enjoyment of Edge of Time will be directly tied to your fondness of action based modern beat-em-ups. Its doesn’t do anything else good enough to call it great.