previews\ Apr 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Spider-Man: Edge of Time


Spider-Man has been hit or miss with video games in the last decade, but his last foray, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, went over well. Letting players jump into four different Spider-Man continuities, Shattered Dimensions was the perfect nod to fans and a solid (if linear) video game. Developer Beenox and publisher Activision have returned, this time with a much more streamlined experience. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is slightly different, paring down four Spider-Men to two. Edge of Time skips back and forth between the Amazing Spider-Man universe and the Spider-Man 2099 universe: the truest technical timeline in Spider-Man’s world and the new direction for the webslinger.

In 2099, an evil scientist goes back in time to kill the Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker), radically changing the world of 2099 (Miguel O’Hara). This shift causes a few problems. First, Peter Parker as Spider-Man is now in a new timeline, working as an employee of evil corporation Alchemax. He’s still a goodie-two-shoes, but he has a stable job, a loving girlfriend, and the respect of the people. Unfortunately, Miguel has to convince Peter that this timeline will end in Peter’s death and that Peter is not the true hero he is meant to be. Together they must take down the scientist and correct the timelines. This isn’t the first time the two Spider-Men have crossed over, as they switched bodies in the 1995 one-shot Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man.

If the plot comes across as a little nutty, don’t worry. It’s no more extreme than an afternoon cartoon or action-flick, and it sets up a nice juxtaposition of two different Spider-Men with slightly different attitudes and personalities. The developers at Beenox are working hard to make sure a relationship between Peter and Miguel builds naturally, and the constant banter between the two showcases the crossing of strong personalities.

Unlike Shattered Dimensions, where the different Spider-Men spend little time together, Edge of Time switches between the two characters. We were shown one early level where each Spider-Man is trying to get to the 66th floor of the Alchemax corporate building. In Peter’s time, he’s trying to navigate a traditional corporate building and bypass the thugs standing in his way. Utilizing picture-in-picture, Miguel can be seen swinging and jumping about, as well as offering his commentary on the situation. He's trying to drop down to the 66th floor, and he has to pay the consequences of Peter’s actions at any moment.

For major actions in Peter’s time, radical modifications to the 2099 universe will happen rather quickly. Miguel will enter a new room to find that there is more security to fight or that a wall has been removed. In one particularly interesting boss fight, Peter must destroy a gigantic unfinished robot that Miguel is currently fighting. Ultimately, all of these timeline modifications are scripted, which is somewhat of a bummer, but they still offer a nice platform for puzzle-solving and plot elements.

Like Shattered Dimensions, Amazing Spider-Man fights with his webs in a much more acrobatic style, and both characters have new dodge and dash moves. Spider-Man 2099, on the other hand, uses his talons and forearm spikes for a more hands-on attack method. He also has the ability to leave behind holograms of himself to distract enemy units, and he can also free-dive from the tops of tall buildings, gliding past obstacles and lasers. Other new mechanic changes include a better camera, a problem in Shattered Dimensions.

Since the game flips between the two heroes at any given time, players have to switch gameplay methods constantly. The character contrasts that accompany these changes, however, are rather refreshing--allowing players to see both men clash. Miguel is much more selfish than Peter, so their interactions can be quite icy. This is in large part courtesy of Peter David, the writer of Edge of Time, who would even roleplay the interactions between the two heroes.

Now that Beenox is the one and only Spider-Man developer for consoles, they have a fantastic opportunity to finesse the linear “Beenox-style” Spider-Man into something really great. With voice work from Josh Keaton (who voiced Spectacular and Ultimate Spider-Man in the past) and Christopher Daniel Barnes (voice actor for Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Spider-Man Noir), the game already has a familiar feel. With a better camera, a better story, and a better fighting system, fans of Shattered Dimensions will have plenty to swing for when it releases later this fall.

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