By Steve Wright
GAME NAME: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
RELEASE DATE(S): 14 October 2011
Developer Beenox made Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and apparently loved Spider-Man 2099 so much that they decided to shoe-horn the character into a second game.
Yep, you can already tell by the tone of this review that I wasn't too crazy about the resulting product, Spider-Man: Edge of Time.
Set in present time with Peter Parker, the "regular" Spider-Man, and also in 2099 with (you guessed it) Spider-Man 2099, Edge of Time is a lesson on how NOT to write a script for a video game. Even with legendary comic book scribe Peter David behind the title, it comes off as a very thin concept stretched far beyond its limits about ten minutes in.
I got the feeling Beenox wanted to make a game focusing on Spider-Man 2099, but were told he wasn't mainstream enough; to compromise, they threw in Peter Parker using a Star Trek-ish plot device: quasi-time travel. You see, some one-dimensional bad guy from 2099…
…wait for it, as this is the best part -- PLAYED BY VAL KILMER...
…decides to become the ruler of the world (or something), by travelling into the past and re-writing time. He also gets Anti-Venom to tag along somehow and kill Peter Parker; Spider-Man 2099 sees what's happening in the past via a handy-dandy portal, and creates a mind link with Peter Parker before he's killed.
Okay, let's stop here for a moment: a mind-link. Because Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man of the future, had access to Peter Parker's DNA, they can communicate telepathically with each other. So now -- and at the end of the game, even when all's resolved -- Peter Parker and Miguel O'Hara will forever share their thoughts between one another, across a 88 year gap in time. Okaaaaaaay...
Anyways, back to the plot. Then, using a concept called "quantum causality" – a made-up theory Beenox uses by name about seventy times over the course of the game – somehow Peter Parker can affect something in his time and have that change affect something in 2099.
Not in a cool way.
Say, if an elevator blocks Spider-Man 2099's way, Peter Parker can blow it up, and somehow it stays blown up for 88 years.
You will use "quantum causality" over and over and over in the game, destroying this, computing that, and somehow be expected to believe that a wormhole means changes performed in the present day will remain the same for 88 years. The concept's EVEN BETTER when you're expected to believe something O'Hara does in 2099 can alter something in 2011. Again, okaaaaaaay...
The plot is so weak that Peter Parker makes fun of it over the course of the game – he gives up on what's going on at one point and sarcastically starts quoting solutions straight out of Star Trek technobabble. Ooh, and I can't forget about the clichéd and predictable plot twist near the end that may excite hardcore Spider-Man fans, but largely comes across flat.
Pile the bad plot on top of the atrocious dialogue that David provides to Parker and O'Hara -- here's a sample: "We have to hurry, or else you'll be DEAD" -- and you'll want to turn the sound off on your TV and just punch things for a short time.
Emphasis on "for a short time." Plot aside, the game's mediocre at best. Combat and gameplay mechanics are extremely similar to Shattered Dimensions, meaning they're fairly polished. But, the problem with that is that this game's been released post- Arkham City and even Captain America: Super-Soldier, meaning a standard beat-em-up, button-mashing superhero game just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Boss battles are frequent, and VERY frustrating. About halfway through the game, you get to fight Black Cat. Then, twenty minutes later, you get to fight Black Cat again. THREE MORE TIMES. If you die at any point in the three-peat boss battle, you start at the beginning of that sequence.
You'll be repeating that sequence over and over. And over. And over.
There's no strategy to beat Black Cat; no patterns to learn and take advantage of. You just need to get lucky. I was close to turning off the game and never returning to it at that point.
On the whole, it's a technically solid title that seems cobbled together for all the wrong reasons. If you're a huge Spider-Man fan and enjoyed Shattered Dimensions, then you'll probably work through the game and end up reasonably pleased. I'd still wait for a bargain bin purchase, though. If you're a casual Spider-Man fan, or you're remotely on the fence about this one, it's best to give it a wide berth.