I am going to be honest up front; I wanted to love Edge of Time. To me, Shattered Dimensions was truly one of the best of the series, and Beenox is truly an outstanding developer, having seen their work on numerous Activision franchises. Unfortunately, Edge of Time takes so many missteps along the way that it seems to almost have forgotten what makes a Spider-Man game good in the first place. What we are left with is a shell of a game that feels more like a generic action brawler as opposed to a superhero game.
Now, stick with me for a moment, the story here gets a bit complicated. Anytime you involve time travel, you are in danger of losing your audience when throwing in too many variables, which is exactly what Edge of Time does. The game starts strong with a gripping opening that really has you wanting to know the outcome of the entire plot, but after a while you begin to realize that the team startied writing themselves into holes, and you are constantly doing “one more thing” to get things back to normal. It all comes crashing down at the end when an imaginary creation and an outlandish twist ruin the entire experience. Heck, the story is so convoluted even the two protagonists have trouble keeping it in perspective most of the time.
Like I said, the game starts strong. I loved the way the beginning is handled, and at first, it feels like it is going to be a solid action/super hero title switching between two different Spider-Men, similar to Shattered Dimensions. Quickly, though, things begin to go downhill. You spend the majority of the game moving from room to room, brawling with baddies with some button mashing combos. The puzzles consist of collecting keys from guards, which as you guessed it, requires you beating them up. The game focuses so much on combat that ultimately just isn’t satisfying. The camera has a hard time keeping up with the action, and half the time I was simply tapping out my combos without any idea who I was hitting with them.
The game boasts completely unique combat between the two characters, but outside of one moving faster and one leaving a decoy; they feel pretty much the same. You have an upgrade system that lets you spend points on either Amazing or 2099, or you can opt for some shared powers. The Web of Challenges also makes a return, allowing you to partake in challenges during the game. These will award you gold spiders that are used to upgrade more prominent things such as health and shield regeneration. You can go back and perform any challenges later in order to earn all the upgrades, but to be honest, most of them felt simply cosmetic outside of the health increases. Combos are never required outside of a couple of boss battles, and I rarely used my web abilities.
This brings me to another issue with the game; I am Spider-Man. I expect to be slinging foes all around and traversing large environments instead of drab corridors. Almost the entire game takes place in enclosed rooms that give you very little freedom to zip around the world using web abilities. In fact, it is really only useful when zipping between points or traversing hallways a little faster. Also, the diving segments with 2099 are a lesson in frustration and poor design. Hitting walls is common and the game never informs you when you are on a time limit or being chased by fire. Having to barrel down these corridors faster leads to more hits and repeating sections over and over. I screamed profanity each time one of these segments popped up.
Throughout the entire game, I constantly felt that I was fighting the tedium and monotony of the combat, so I decided to actually dig into the upgrades a bit more. What I found is that a lot of what previous games had done was omitted. The system is a skeleton of its former self, and most combos and moves learned were really insignificant most of the time. It is also not a good sign when a game that clocks in between six and seven hours feels twice as long. That is just how monotonous some of these missions and encounters started to feel. I literally could only handle the game in short bursts before my patience and willingness to continue wore out.
Graphically, the game is fine, if not a bit generic. The boring locales and claustrophobic corridors start to bleed into one another after a while. Enemies are repeated far too often and nothing from the clunky menus to the poorly designed upgrade menu really feel polished. The voice acting, on the other hand, is fantastic. Both Amazing and 2099 are voiced perfectly, and the additions of Val Kilmer and Katee Sackhoff as key characters really sell the lines. It is too bad most of the dialogue and writing feels a bit tenacious. The music is decent and everything else just kind of feels standard.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a lesson in disappointment. After the outstanding Shattered Dimensions, I had high hopes for Beenox and their latest Spidey outing. Instead, I am left wondering what this game was trying to be and wishing it had been more. It really feels like some of this stuff was cutting room floor content from Dimensions and should never have been materialized into a full product. I have always been an avid fan of the web-slinger’s games, but this is one I recommend avoiding unless you find a killer deal or serve it up rental style.
Review copy provided by publisher. Both versions played to completion.