Spider-Man: Edge of Time ReviewA game review article by: Jamil Scalese
Unlike most every other comic book franchise, Spider-Man has a rich, wonderful history in video-games. I don't need to provide examples as I'm sure you, the reader, are able to think of at least one Spider-Man game that you have a fond memory of. Unfortunately, something went very, very wrong along the development of this one. In several interviews and panels Spider-Man: Edge of Time studio Beenox repeatedly stated that the game was not Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. They were completely right. This was like if Shattered Dimensions took a huge, watery dump.
The spiritual predecessor celebrated the diversity and various abilities of Spider-Man, and I truly felt that it might be the best franchised superhero game in terms of story and atmosphere. It represented Spidey well, with a wacky adventure and kick-ass powers. The ambitious game featured Silver Sable, Deadpool and Juggernaut in main roles, and rarely failed to deliver in terms of controls or challenge.
Truthfully, Edge of Time's entertaining story carries the player through the game. The Peter David yarn follows Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099 ( voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes), as he discovers that Alchemax employee Walker Sloan (Val Kilmer) travels back in time to the contemporary 616 Amazing Spider-Man's time to start the company years before its original inception. As Miguel is on the cusp of the time portal he witnesses the death of Peter Parker (Josh Keaton) at the hands of Anti-Venom, and thus the player is jettisoned into a proverbial race against time to save the web-head's life.
The game opens up in a boss fight type arena as Amazing Spider-Man and Anti-Venom battle it out. If you're unfamiliar with the mess that is the new Eddie Brock, please wiki it. As Spidey loses this opening battle, the game reverses to 2099's journey to the time portal. At this point the game held budding promise, with the future hero crawling through spectacular scenery and encountering fierce enemies. Eventually 2099 is able to contact Peter Parker in the past and warn the webcrawler of his forthcoming death, but the Amazing Spider-Man, the persistent do-gooder, chases Anti-Venom anyway. The game play switches back to Parker and you take over the controls as he fights dudes, swings places and quips unabashedly. However, as you progress deeper into the narrative it kind of becomes apparent that this is Spider-Man 2099's game, told from his perspective and in his world.
At this point I was maybe a couple hours into it and I'm thinking – "Holy shit this prologue is ridiculous, I wonder when the game will start." It was quickly apparent that the gameplay boiled down to the two Spider-Men switching and yelling at each other to hurry up as their movements and actions influenced the dual timelines. Developers sold the game on its use of time travel and how it influenced the player's experience. Yes, destroying genetic experiments in the past helps decrease the number of zombies in 2099's time, but it's not like you can chose not to do it. It's a rigid formula, and offers no replay value. The best part of the concept is that Miguel and Peter provide a soundtrack of banter that is classic Spider-Man, but even that is sometimes flat, and irritating when you have to replay parts over and over.
The novelty sputters from there. The game is not good enough to withhold minor spoilers like to tell you this there is a huge lack of Spider-Man feel. Major villains, from either character's franchise, are nearly absent. I will list the recognizable names here for you: Anti-Venom, Black Cat, Doc Ock. That's it. It's quickly discovered that Walker Sloan controls Eddie Brock in Parker's time, and soon after that Doctor Octopus appears in a cameo role. In an odd, but completely ripped-off move, the three of them merge into a mega boss that chases Parker around his side for most of the game. In fact, Doc Ock is apparently included in the game just to provide tentacle obstacles. Black Cat also shows up on the Amazing side, but her appearance and exchanges with Parker are barely mentionable. Her boss fight offers the inevitable controller slamming, stand-up-while-playing moment in the game. When merged into the mega boss, Walker Sloan absolutely disappears, and you wonder why the hell Val Kilmer was even brought into this project at all. Another boss character replaces Sloan, named the CEO, and I won't ruin that surprise for you, but it's a decent twist, not entirely clever or believable, but cool.
Crap, all that text and I haven't even discussed the actual on-screen game play. Well, that's because it wasn't anything above the level of predecessor. In fact, the entire combat system might have taken a step back. Both Amazing and 2099 feel pretty similar, they differ in slight ways but generally the same combos work for each. Parker is a little better at big time web smashing, and O'Hara is faster and has a fun special ability of being able to create a decoy version to confuse enemies. The now traditional ability unlocking system is in place, but it offers almost nothing of mention. The moves on both sides get repetitive, and the enemies even more so. The game's most glaring flaw is that the entire narrative takes place inside the Alchemax building. That's right, you never go outside this building that is jokingly (although logically), compared to Mount Everest. The game confines a character that functions best in more wide open spaces to a dark, futuristic gloom factory that only switches up the wall paper occasionally. I guess not all Spider-Man's missions take place in jungle locales or the atop the New York skyline, but for the sake of videogaming, they should.
In defense of the Edge of Time, it did offer some remarkable visuals, especially during 2099's diving portions. The story, for its structural flaws, kept me entertained to the finish, and the game has a decent amount of extras, particularly in the way of alternate costumes. The challenge system is easy to access, but the game itself makes it the opposite of enticing to complete.
The game was dangerously close to receiving a bullet rating a notch lower, but I took a step back and realized that it was a junk sequel to a fantastic game and still carried the remnants of being playable. The game only lasted me about ten hours, and I've read online people are cruising through in a few hours less so it’s totally not worth the huge price tag. Edge of Time failed royally to further the lore of Spider-Man games, however it's not complete trash. It’s worth a play over a lazy weekend, but don’t get excited.
Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.