Spider-Man: Edge of Time [Review]

  • Platform: PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, 3DS,
  • Published by: Activision
  • Developed by: Beenox
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • ESRB Rating: T for Teen
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: October 4, 2011

There are a few comic book superheroes that are known internationally, among those is Spider-Man. You can go almost anywhere in the world and find a man, woman, or child who can readily identify who the character is. The webslinger has been featured and popularized on the big screen, in various TV shows, and hundreds of comic books and novels. There is one area of the entertainment media that the wall crawler has struggled to find his niche in though, video games. Over and over again, Spider-Man games are made and very few succeed in the way that fans would like to see, especially with this current generation of consoles. Enter, Beenox, a studio with a new vision for the freak in tights.

In 2010, Beenox and Activision released Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. The game made a real effort to change how Spider-Man games were not only viewed, but played. We had a more story-line based game, and more dynamic combat. A huge change, in addition, included the fact that the game was not open world. With all of these changes, a lot of Spider-Man fans enjoyed the game and it also received a few good reviews. However, it wasn’t perfect and it still didn’t capture the audience like some had hoped it would. While I hate making comparisons between games, many were looking for that Spider-Man game that could be a game changer like that of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Then came the announcement of the next Spider-Man game being developed once again by Beenox, Spider-Man: Edge of Time.

When we got our first look at Edge of Time, many fans were quite interested in the darker overtone to the game. With a promise that the game would be more story focused and deeper gameplay, we all had our eyes on the game. Our hopes were that the game did improve on what the previous title did right and expand on what more it could accomplish. Well, we got our hands on a copy and played it all the way through. Did the game live up to our hopes and expectations? Did it exceed them? Or just fall short?

I have to give credit to Beenox. They said they wanted a game that was more focused on the story and they accomplished that. The story was definitely there. Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man 2099, uncovers a time traveling corporate conspiracy that ultimately leads to the death of Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man. With the aid of some complex quantum science, Spider-Man 2099 rushes to save Parker from his fate in the past and the changes that will occur in the future. Throughout the game, the story is reinforced with constant back and forth dialogue between the two Spider-Men and a few cut scenes. There was a bit of a cinematic feel to the game as a static camera followed you through air ducts and some of the cut scenes were crafted pretty well. There are even a few twists to the story that try to add some shock value. So, I will concede, the story was a great focus in the game. However it’s almost as if that was the only thing truly focused on when the game was being developed because everything else was just about lacking. This in turn made me feel a little disconnected from the story itself.

There weren’t many changes from Shattered Dimensions. When I say that, I mean there weren’t many improvements. In fact, I would be willing to say they forgot everything that made Shattered Dimensions good. Combat was generally the same button mashing experience with very few “cool” factors added other than a hyper ability that allowed you to move fast and act like time was moving slower around you. The camera once again provided a lot of problems which led to clunky controls when trying to crawl on a ceiling or wall. It was considerably difficult at times and down right frustrating at other times. There were not many boss fights and the ones that were there were not very exciting.

Beenox really wanted to focus on the story more and thus tried to make this more of a linear experience. Shattered Dimensions was pretty linear in the fact that it wasn’t an open world game and you had to go from point A to point B to progress, however, it did have a nice variety of environments, something Edge of Time lacked immensely. Throughout the entire game, you will find yourself indoors. The closest thing you will find to any type of gameplay outdoors or sandbox style is in one location, an indoors eco-lab of sorts. A greenhouse if you will. The maps are pretty limited and pretty boring to say the least. I almost miss the days when you could climb to the very top of a building as Spider-Man, jump off and at the last second, right before you hit the ground, shoot out a web and soar through the city skyline as you please. Even while you play as the different Spider-Men, the locations are not very different as you are going through the same building in the past and future.

Something that I was hoping to find in the game to maybe make up a bit for all that it was lacking was fan service. You can barely call yourself a MARVEL game, comic, TV show, without some sort of fan service. There honestly was very little to be found in this game. Going back to Shattered Dimensions once again, there was a lot in that game. Everything from the boss fights against characters from other comics such as Deadpool and Juggernaut, references of other people in the Marvel universe, and more. The most you will find in this game are brief mentions of people like Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and alternate costumes that you can unlock. There are just about no cameos in this game and it was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. In fact, there are barely any characters who play any sort of role in this game from Spider-Man comics apart from Spider-Man 2099, and The Amazing Spider-Man. You could probably count them all on one hand with a finger or two to spare.

Now, that’s not to say every part of the game was disappointing. Yes, most of it was, but there were still little tidbits that helped me get through it. Throughout the game you can collect newspapers with varying headlines. Considering that you are dealing with a story based on time, any changes made in the past or future can have a consequence on past or future. So you can find some humorous headlines with captions like, “Police Close In On Hammerhead” with the alternate timeline showing a newspaper headline with “Hammerhead Opens Line of XL Hat Stores.” There are a lot of unexpected humorous goodies like that. In addition, while the story isn’t the best and tries to keep a serious overtone, Peter Parker keeps his puns and banter rolling all through the game. Personality wise, the Spider-Men were preserved.

The game also allows for a bit of replay value, if you really care to do it. In just about every chapter there are challenges that you can accept. If you get a gold medal you can unlock a couple of other goods such as alternate suits or points for power upgrades. If you miss the challenge through your regular play through of the game, you can always go back and try those challenges on the “web of challenges” again at any time. However, these few “highlights” if you want to call it that, are not enough to save Spider-Man: Edge of Time from what is essentially a disappointing experience.

Spider-Man: Edge of Time set out to do what other Spider-Man games before it didn’t – and failed. It pains me to say this, but Spider-Man: Edge of Time is not worth a purchase. If you really want a fix of some Spider action, then a rental will suffice. Edge of Time turned out to be a story focused game that ignored all of the other elements that make a game great. Repetitive, bland, and clunky combat and controls; A camera that could give you a headache; and stale environments turn Spider-Man: Edge of Time into something undesirable to the eye when it could have been much better, like its predecessor Shattered Dimensions. Here’s hoping that somewhere in the future, there will be a MARVEL superhero game, a Spider-Man game, that will truly wow us, but for today Edge of Time does not accomplish that.

FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10 

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