Featuring everyone’s favorite web-head, Spider-Man: Edge of Time has Peter Parker AKA Spider-Man and a future version of the hero racing against the clock in an interesting tale of time travel run amok. While the game opens with Peter frantically trying to avoid being beaten into a pulp by one of the game’s primary antagonists, Anti-Venom, we quickly skip forward (technically) to earlier in the story and are introduced to Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist who’s taken up the mantle of Spider-Man in the far off year of 2099. He’s looking into the nefarious dealings of scientist Walker Sloan, who’s planning on travelling back in time and founding the mega-corporation Alchemax decades before it was originally created, thus allowing it to conquer the market and/or world before any of its competitors even get off the ground. After about ten minutes of vent-crawling and Miguel’s exposition, Walker succeeds in royally screwing up the space-time continuum, potential time paradoxes be damned, and it’s up to the player (as the two Spider-Men) to get things back in order.
About half of the gameplay in Edge of Time is straightforward beat-em up action. As either Miguel or Peter, you’ll be moving from area to area using your spidery-powers to beat the living crap out of anyone (or anything) that stands between you and your next goal. While this sounds like it would get pretty repetitive (and it does after a while, especially after having to use your web-powers to force open a door for the hundredth time), the game at least tries to mitigate it by introducing new enemies that are less vulnerable to your standard attacks or just require much more of a severe beating to defeat. It’s not a whole lot but at least it helps vary things up.
The other half of Edge of Time is all about platforming, and using wall-crawling and web slinging to get through all manner of environment hazards. Swinging around is kind of wobbly at first, and you actually won’t need it outside of a few specific sequences since there are so few open areas in the Alchemax building. Plus the game conveniently auto-targets perches and ledges, making it fairly simple to aim and jump from one point to the next. Other than an unusually high amount of vent-crawling and a few high-velocity drops down elevator shafts, it doesn’t feel like there are many opportunities to really get the most out of one of Spider-Man’s most notable skills.
You’ll be switching from Peter Parker to Miguel O’Hara constantly, and along with their sarcastic sense of humor, they share similar combat skills and a “Spider-sense” that lets you see enemies, objectives and important items like door keys. Where they differ is in their specific in-game superpowers and their style of play. When Peter’s hyper-sense is active, he can zip around at high speed and auto-dodge any attacks. He can also use his webbing a lot more to pull himself up close and personal with enemies or get out of danger. Miguel, on the other hand, has a decoy ability, which allows him to turn invisible and create a stationary blue hologram that’s useful for tricking enemies into shooting each other or for nabbing a few precious seconds of space when things get too dicey.
You can purchase upgrades to either character as well as unlock abilities by spending pick-ups scattered through the levels. Golden Spiders are useful for boosting the health, shield, and stamina of either character, while portal energy is for the combat and special abilities that each character has access to. You’ll end up picking up more than enough of both that you’ll be able to buy at least the first rank of each Spider-Mans’ abilities, though in my experience, I found some of them to be more useful than others- as cool as it is to smash enemies with a gigantic web-hammer as Peter, it was just as useful to make sure his punches hit harder. “Web Challenges” pop up all the time throughout the game as a chance to earn extra points, tasking you to beat up X number of enemies in a time limit or get from one end of the level to another without taking a hit. They’re a nice touch and throw a little extra challenge your way.
Since the game itself was drawing from the Spider-Man franchise, I was hoping for some impressive boss fights and more characters from the Marvel and Marvel 2099 universes but sadly there are only a few cameos, and the bosses are kind of hit and miss. The multi-stage duel against Anti-Venom, first as Peter, then Miguel, was definitely intense, but the later fight against a future, kind of evil clone of super heroine Black Cat was the most frustrating, controller-breaking two hours of my entire experience with Edge of Time. After an initial one-on-one duel, Peter ends up having to chase down Black Cat from one platform arena to the next and duke it out against her and a handful of her clones three times in order to get an important door key. Lose against Black Cat on any of the platforms, and you have to start all the way over at the beginning of the mission. It doesn’t matter if you’ve managed to survive all the way to the last platform or not. I found it particularly maddening, especially since up until that point it felt like there were a fair number of checkpoints in each chapter. No such luck for that fight.
There are also several points throughout the game’s story that deal with how actions in the past affect the future. In one of the first chapters, to save Miguel from getting crushed to death by a gigantic robot of doom in the future, Peter has to break into a cybernetics lab and smash up the incomplete robot parts. A successful sabotage prevents the robot from ever being made, saving Miguel from certain death. Timey-wimey events like that occur all throughout the game and it really would’ve been interesting to have more control over how one Spider-Man’s actions changed what happens to the other. Sadly the time change concept is limited to just driving the plot forward and there’s no way to make life easier or harder for yourself.
I’d have to say I was fairly surprised with Spider-Man: Edge of Time. After its awkward start I was worried that the game was going to be a generic cash-in on the Spider-Man franchise, but the comic-book campiness of the story and varied action grew on me. It’s not amazing, but it’s definitely not bad either.
Bottom Line: Spider-Man: Edge of Time is an above-average brawler/platformer, held back by issues with repetition and missed potential, and a severe lack of J Jonah Jameson.
Recommendation: If you’re a fan of Spider-Man or games based off of comic books, you could do much worse than Spider-Man: Edge of Time, but other than an interesting story it doesn’t bring anything incredibly special to the genres.[rating=3.5]
Game: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PS Vita, PSP, 3DS
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)