Last year’s Shattered Dimensions was a Spider-Man fan boy’s dream game in a way because it had four different incarnations of the character to play as - and more skins for them. However, it suffered from being very derivative, having a terrible camera, and not really mixing things up a lot since three of the Spideys all played basically the same. I had hopes that Edge of Time would fix some issues, and thought that only putting the Amazing and 2099 versions in the game would help by streamlining things.
Edge of Time starts off absolutely perfectly - right in the middle of modern-day Spidey versus a giant roided-up Anti-Venom who kills Peter Parker, but the 2099 incarnation sees this and does whatever he can to prevent Parker’s death while also preventing the head of an evil corporation from taking over his world. It’s all so exciting, and I like only getting small pieces of the storyline because it makes you interested in what’s going on instantly. There’s even a gorgeous playable opening credit sequence with some amazing camera angles… and then things just kind of die down.
You go from this kind of excitement to crawling through vents, beating up baddies to get keys, going through doors…to fight more baddies and open more doors, sometimes with a time limit. The game goes from thrilling to mundane very quickly, and sadly, both the Amazing and 2099 Spideys play pretty much the same, with some minor variance in combat and bigger differences in set pieces for them, but their usual gameplay is the same. Jump around, beat an enemy, maybe break up the monotony with a crawl up an air vent, or a freefrall, and then do it all over again. There was a sense of sameness in Shattered Dimensions as well, but at least that gave you one distinct play style since the Noir version played so differently. This is just too much of the same thing, and what’s there isn’t executed as well as it could be.
While the combat controls are pretty responsive, platforming is a bit of a nightmare, with the zip line feature not always working when you want it to, and there’s always a slight delay between trying to make Spidey stick to walls and him actually doing it, and a lot of hitches with the web-assisted jumps. They’re never as smooth as they should be, and you’ll often find yourself jumping clearly over the platform…and then fall into the abyss. At least you can now control the camera - that does remedy the platforming issues to some degree, although it’s still a pain to climb on ceiling since the camera goes all over the place there.
The feeling of being Spider-Man, the very thing that made Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Shattered Dimensions stand out, isn’t here. The cramped environments don’t help, and it’s just a chore to get him from point A to B easily. The only thing that really feels Spidey-ish and works perfectly is jumping up, shooting a web, and flinging yourself towards the enemy. That’s it. There’s no freedom to move around, and it leads to everything feeling cramped. Plus, it’s just not very exciting to fight enemy waves, get a key, and move onto more of the same. There are skill and ability trees that don’t really add much, and compared to Shattered Dimensions, the selection is really slim. I didn’t enjoy Shattered Dimensions as much as I thought I would, but it captured the whole idea of being Spider-Man so much better than this that it isn’t funny - it’s sad. And it’s quite puzzling too, since they were both developed by the same company.
Thankfully, Edge of Time does have some very good qualities about it that make it worth playing in spite of its gameplay issues. The storyline is far better than Shattered Dimensions, and focuses on 2099’s Spidey trying to save the Amazing one from being killed, while also trying to make sure that Amazing’s actions don’t wind up killing him due to the wacky time vortex thingy that the game’s evil corporate guy Walker Sloan created. He uses his smarts to control Anti-Venom to try and kill Parker, which 2099 wants to prevent since if it happens, he knows his world will be doomed and ruled by Sloan’s Alchemax company that Parker works for, and who is caught unaware by everything and like the player, has to have it explained by 2099.
The voice acting is tremendous, with the cast all playing their roles really well. The actors portraying each version of Spidey have fantastic chemistry with one another, and that’s a very good thing since they banter back and forth a lot. Even their expository moments explaining the ins and outs of the present being the future and past, which would normally be a nightmare to explain, come off as relatively organic and I love the use of the alternating timelines since it reminds me of one of Futurama’s best episodes. The storyline as a whole is really good and while the idea of “evil corporate guy vs. good guys” has been done to death, it’s executed well here and has some great cameos, twists and turns, and even a few really funny moments.
I really like the cinematic approach to some parts of the gameplay and the beautiful character models as well. There are a few big set pieces that look gorgeous, like the opening credits, but also a cool freefall down an elevator (that, for some reason, has giant spiked columns in it - maybe there‘s a rodent problem), and the boss battles usually take on a more cinematic view as well. They all look tremendous, and really make the more drab “climb the air vents” and regular baddie fights stick out as just being kind of boring. However, the air vent climbing really does show off how well-crafted the Spidey suits are - especially 2099’s default one, which has all these cool ripples and textures to it.
There are also some nice alternate suits, including the Spider-Armor one, which features glistening silver and shiny black that catches your attention. It’s a good thing it’s armored too since it’s so shiny it’d really suck as a stealth outfit. When the animation doesn’t have weird hitches in it (like the aforementioned web jump just kind of stopping for no good reason), it’s really smooth, although the rough edges to it really make the game seem like it was rushed out the door since so much care was taken on the animation as a whole, and yet there are odd-looking parts that really shouldn’t be there and take away from the game as a whole.
Unfortunately, while Spider-Man: Edge of Time does a few things really well, it does more things wrong than it does right. The game starts off strong and just devolves into a boring mess of key collecting and enemy beating that gets old really quickly. There isn’t enough depth or variation in the gameplay to keep things interesting for long. Multi-platform owners can pick up any version and be happy with it - I didn’t notice any graphical differences between the two versions, and as a pleasant surprise, the PS3 version lacks a long mandatory install. There isn’t one at all in fact - very nice if you’ve got a hard drive that’s low on space. Edge of Time is worth a rental for most since you can get through the campaign in about six hours, and there isn‘t much meaningful bonus content. Die-hard Spidey fans who have to own every Spidey game shouldn’t pay more than $15-$20 for it.