Review: Spider-Man: Edge of Time Doesn't Live Up to Expectations
At a Glance
Every time things start looking bright for Spider-Man, something inevitably has to drag him back down. Whether it's credit card bills, his jerkwad boss, or the ever-festering Aunt May, the webhead can't seem to catch a break. Even his video games aren't safe from this roller-coaster, as we consistently see a really good title followed by a disappointing dud.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time ultimately just doesn't live up to the stylish and fan-friendly Shattered Dimensions, yet I still have to respect development team Beenox (and to a looser extent, Activision/Marvel) for the quality work that did go into the production. Not only are the visuals very well done, but the returning vocal talent is also top-notch. Christopher Daniel Barnes (the voice of Peter Parker in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Shattered Dimensions' Spider-Man Noir) steals the spotlight as Spider-Man 2099 this time around, Josh Keaton (last year's Ultimate Spider-Man) turns in another solid performance as the present-day Peter Parker, and the rest of the supporting cast does an admirable job as well.
But as much as I appreciate the effort, it doesn't change the fact that Edge of Time feels like a pale imitation of Shattered Dimensions. Instead of four Spider-Men, we get two in this game, as Miguel O'Hara (Spider-Man 2099) races through time to prevent Peter Parker's death in an alternate timeline where the evil Alchemax Corporation has taken the place of the Daily Bugle, along with much of the country. It's a rather convoluted storyline with many plotholes and inconsistencies, and amusingly, even Parker and O'Hara frequently reference how the time travel quirks don't seem to make any sense.
During its preview tours, Edge of Time hyped a "cause and effect" style of gameplay, where events in the past would alter the future. For example, Spider-Man 2099 would face various traps and enemies, all of which could change depending on Peter Parker's battles inside present-day Alchemax. A solid wall could become a laser trap, and a safe elevator shaft could suddenly morph into a turret range. Disappointingly, all the of these events are scripted, which really narrows the linear focus of the game. However, Edge of Time's narration and voice actors often save the day with tight pacing and smart, snappy dialogue. It's very hard to guess what's going to happen next, and coping with the changes the game throws at you makes for both interesting missions and running commentary.
In all other areas, though, Spider-Man: Edge of Time is standard where it should be amazing. Cookie-cutter enemies don't pose much of a threat, while boss fights are few and far between. There's some variety in the combat system, but leveling up your health and basic combos does more than enough to let you coast through the game. Still, the combat does feel much more focused than Shattered Dimensions. Both Parker and O'Hara feel appropriately speedy and powerful, so you'll at least have fun laying down thrashings in 10-to-1 fights with mutants and robots.
At less than 10 hours for the campaign, the light replay value is only supported by in-game challenges and the usual unlockables (action figures, artwork, alternate costumes), so I can't say it's worth more than a rental. Spider-Man: Edge of Time feels like a warm-up instead of a full project, and I hope that Beenox has something more to bring to the table next time. Don't skip this new Spider-Man game, but just be aware that it's a few strands short of a full web.