Spider-Man has been doing the rounds with videogames for years now, but few have stepped up to do the web-slinger justice. Spider-Man: Edge of Time aims to change that and despite some issues with repetition it’s still one of the best uses of the Spiderman license to date.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a rigidly linear platformer/beat ‘em up where you take control of both the irradiated Amazing Spider-Man and the genetically enhanced Spider-Man 2099 as their two eras begin to meld. A gateway through time has been created in 2099 and it’s up to the two heroes to correct the time stream and prevent a catastrophic future from occurring.
It’s an engrossing narrative that allows the player to take on both roles and allows communication between the two protagonists. Penned by Spider-Man 2099 co-creator, Peter David, Spider-Man: Edge of Time is brilliantly written and sports equally brilliant and believable dialogue throughout. It takes you on a short but expertly driven journey through both the Amazing and 2099 Spider-Man universes – although the amount of each world you see is very limited – and it’s downright compelling stuff, leaving you longing for closure to each thread of intrigue and tying it all up neatly at the end. The six to eight hour length is a little disappointing but it fits the pace wonderfully, delivering the story with the right amount of impact with just enough juxtaposition in the experience between action and lulls not to overwhelm you.
Unfortunately the gamplay itself is very repetitive. Progression consists of a huge amount of combat broken up by the traditional lever pulling and door unlocking. It lacks creativity. Moreover the solely interior level design fails to show off the web swinging potential. Indeed then it trades heavily on the narrative and the mechanics. Fortunately it’s mechanically solid. Combat is easy and intuitive, essentially consisting of two buttons, close attack and ranged attack which act as light and heavy attacks respectively. Meanwhile you can also shoot balls of web at attackers to tie them up temporarily.
As you progress a whole host of additional combat moves are unlocked through the collection and spending of purple experience orbs and golden spiders. Each act as currency to be spent in the upgrade screen on shared abilities as well as specific abilities catered to each Spider-Man. These upgrades also increase you stats such as your health and stamina and the majority of combat abilities are additional moves added to combos of your two attack buttons, with the odd special attack requiring a bumper button. It’s well designed to give you maximum effect and minimum complexity. Additionally both protagonists have a spider sense ability tied into their speed, which adds an extra option to combat as well as being useful for a multitude of platforming objectives.
Combat is fast paced, smooth and satisfying, which is handy as you’ll be doing a lot of it. You’ll be up against dozens of enemies at a time and in almost every room is a fight waiting to happen. It gets repetitive but it follows a steadily challenging difficulty curve, with new enemy types requiring slight modifications to you combat patterns, keeping things from getting too monotonous and frustrating. Additionally there’s an auto-lock on mechanic but it’s implemented so subtlety you’ll hardly notice. Aerial attacks hit their mark brilliantly and you can switch targets simple by directing your attacks elsewhere. It’s melee combat at its best.
The platforming is also strong, with controlling each Spider-Man being simple thanks to a great camera that achieves a cinematic presentation whilst not compromising your view. It even does a decent job when wall crawling, although it’s not always perfect if you’re shifting from walls to ceilings whilst twisting the camera manually. The web swinging is certainly the highlight of playing as Spider-Man and in Spider-Man: Edge of Time this is no different. The tragic thing is the narrative is focused on an interior environment and your opportunities to really let loose with swinging are severely limited. When things do open up a bit it feels great though, bringing back memories of the Spider-Man 2 movie game.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time certainly gets a lot right in regards to storytelling, enough in fact to counter the repetition of gameplay. Great voice acting sells the world, with Josh Keaton voicing Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man) and Christopher Daniel Barnes voicing Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099), and even Val Kilmer lends his talents to a villain as well as Katee Sackhoff, Jim Cummings and, of course, Nolan North providing more talent to the pool.
Replayability is encouraged with plenty of objective challenges scattered throughout the campaign which can be attempted during normal play or individually from the start menu, completion of which grants extra costumes. You also gain an extra difficulty level on full game completion. However, despite its brevity and excellent narrative it is hard to stomach another play-through of the repetitive combat and objectives.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a great Spider-Man game, and not just for a comic book adaptation. If you like a brilliantly written narrative with dialogue to match then you’ll love this. If you’re also a Spider-Man fan then that’s a bonus. Sure, there are issues with the experience but the positives more than outweigh the flaws. Its release, with Batman Arkham City just round the corner, suffers from bad timing but I really can’t stress this enough: this is a superhero game you really shouldn’t miss.
MLG Rating: 8/10
Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 14/10/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Spider-Man Edge of Time for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.