Spider-Man: Edge of Time Review
Game: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Spider-Man games have long been a favourite of mine, with Spider-Man 2 being right up there with some of the best games of all time. A lot of the fun of a Spider-Man game was found in swinging around New York City, leaping from the tallest buildings and shooting a web just as you’re about to smash into the floor. Since Beenox started making Spider-Man games with last year’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions they games have been decidedly more closed world, some people loved it, a more direct approach to a Spider-Man game, and some people hated it. Beenox have been at it again and this new game, Spider-Man: Edge of time, is pretty much the same formula as last year. Is there anything different? Did they improve anything? Beenox have the power to make a Spider-Man game that we all love but, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility…
STORY: The story in Spider-Man: Edge of Time starts off in 2099 as Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of that time period, is sneaking back into his place of work, the evil corporation Alchemax. While he’s in there he overhears the story’s protagonist, Walker Sloane, talking about going back in time to found the company decades before it was meant to be founded, taking control of the entire enterprise from the very beginning. Well, Mighty Marvelites, our spectacular Spider-Man isn’t going to let something like that happen, not without a fight anyway. Unfortunately for all the people involved, Miguel fails to get to the time gateway fast enough and Walker manages to go back to the 1970s and change history. Changing the world as Miguel knew it around him. Now, he’s got two worlds to save, his own and the Spider-Man of the present day, Peter Parker’s, to save. This is going to be a bad day.
When it comes to the story of Spider-Man: Edge of Time you couldn’t have gotten a better person to write it. Peter David was one of the original creators of Spider-Man 2099 and is in a unique position to tell the stories of Miguel O’Hara. The story in the game is excellent and is quite possibly the best part of the entire experience. As a graphic novel I’d have snapped this up in an instant, as a video game…keep reading.
GRAPHICS: There’s no doubt about it, Spider-Man: Edge of Time looks amazing, for the most part at least. While you’re in the main game you’ll notice an impressive amount of detail has gone into certain areas of the game, with all of the character models being lovingly crafted too; especially the main ones. However, if you look a little closer you’ll start to notice things that aren’t so visually pleasing, things such as the same textures and enemy models being repeated over and over again until, at some points, it can be confusing to figure out where in a given area you are. If you die and have to restart a section over again it can take you a while to figure out just how far you’ve been put back. This happened to me on a number of occasions and really put me off continuing to play.
What points Spider-Man: Edge of Time loses through its repetition of textures, character models and corridors it makes up for in the sheer beauty of the cutscenes. Everything within them makes you wish that that was how the entire game looked. The rips on Spidey’s costume, the globules of symbiote dripping from Anti-Venom and even the ever-spinning vortex of the time displacement device are all rendered beautifully. If I was going to have a problem with the cutscenes it’s that there isn’t enough of them, but thankfully, once you’ve seen them once they’re unlocked in the gallery so you can go back and watch them as many times as you want. Which I did.
SOUND: The sound is one of the most impressive parts of Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Not that it sounds particularly awesome when you punch somebody or fling a crate across the room, those are all adequate but nothing really stands out. When you get to the voice-acting, however, that’s where the game really shines. All of the people that recorded voice work for the game seemed to have put 110% of effort into each of their characters. A lot of it will come down to Peter David’s dialogue work, of course, but the delivery of each of the lines, from both of the Spider-Men and Val Kilmer, who voices the main protagonist of Walker Sloane, are spot on. Listening to the Spider-Men banter with each other took me back to my childhood, watching the old Spider-Man cartoon and simply loving the Spidey quips and smart rebuttals. It wouldn’t feel like Spider-Man without them and they’re certainly here in droves.
GAMEPLAY: If you played last year’s Spider-Man offering, Shattered Dimensions, then you’ll be extremely familiar with the style of gameplay on offer here. Nothing has changed. You take control of either the familiar Peter Parker or the unfamiliar, yet just as quippy, Miguel O’Hara, and proceed to beat up just about every single person that you may see along your travels. Who you have control of at any particular moment in time is dependant on where in the story you are. You can’t choose which of the characters you want to be playing as, you just have to let the story decide, sit back and like it for the next 10 to 20 minutes, before the storyline inevitably shifts back to the alternate Spider-Man.
One of the selling points of Spider-Man: Edge of Time, at least according to the back of the box, is the ability to change one thing in the past and have it affect something in the future. The way that this is phrased would have the player believe that they would get to choose what they wanted to change, in certain parts of the story at least. This isn’t the case as every single time you get the opportunity to change something, for better or for worse, it’s always a part of the story, something that you’re very linearly told to change and you have no choice in the matter at all.
The combat system from Shattered Dimensions is back too and while it wasn’t really much good in that previous game, it feels a little bit worse this time around. All of the environments that you’ll be fighting in take place inside the Alchemax facility and because you’re never in any real open environments you won’t be able to swing around much, like you would expect Spider-Man to do. Instead of all the awesome that you’re expecting from being in control of either of the Spider-Men, you’re confined to running around on the ground, mashing the punch button and hoping that all of the enemies in the immediate vicinity die before our faithful web-head does. There are certain moves that are available to help you stay alive, such as clicking both analog sticks in order to create a time paradox (which basically just slows down all of the enemies) as well as the ability to upgrade your abilities and buy new ones but the main problem with the game is never really addressed properly; you never feel like Spider-Man.
On a plus note, the time travelling aspects of the game feel good and it doesn’t feel as jarring as it did in Shattered Dimensions to switch between the different versions of our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, everything just flows well, instead of being a case of finishing one level, swapping versions and playing through another level. You’ll never see a loading screen, a level complete screen or anything like that, it’s a single cohesive game that just keeps flowing, maintaining the immersion quite well. Especially for someone who’s already engrossed into the Marvel universe anyway.
LONGEVITY: Once you’ve finished with the main storyline of Spider-Man: Edge of Time you can go back and complete any of the Web of Challenges, just as you could in Shattered Dimensions. Thankfully you don’t have to be in a particular part of the story to complete them as the relevant section will load up as soon as you hit the ‘A’ button on the controller. This makes it really simple to go back and complete any of the challenges you may have missed out on, giving yourself the opportunity to unlock bonus material such as new costumes and concept art. If you’re not a fan of the gameplay however, once you’ve finished the main game there’s no reason to start the whole thing all over again. Sure you can play through it all as Cosmic Spider-Man if you wanted, or even the Iron Spider, but there’s nothing driving you to do so.
VERDICT: If you enjoyed Shattered Dimensions then chances are you’re going to enjoy Edge of Time. The story is much better than it was the last time around with a more fluid narrative instead of jumping from one dimension to another in a very jarring fashion. Unfortunately the combat system isn’t up to scratch especially when you’ve got a game that’s coming out around the same time as Batman: Arkham City. Couple that with the fact that you’re inside most of the time and never get to feel like you’re Spider-Man and you’ve got yourself a pretty mediocre game helped along by a fantastic story. Beenox are clearly capable of making a good looking Spider-Man game with a great narrative, they just need to make the player feel like they’re Spider-Man. Hopefully next year’s open world Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in game will do just that. This is one true believer that will be keeping his fingers crossed!