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Spider-Man: Edge of Time

Spider-Man

There’s nothing essential about Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Coming off last year’s moderate success experimenting with four different Spider-Men in Shattered Dimensions, developer Beenox have scaled back on just about every aspect. The end product feels less like a result of streamlining and closer to the outcome of annualizing something for no good reason beyond the fact that the publisher holds a licensing contract and should probably be doing something with it.

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It’s a shame, as there’s something inherently good about putting the web-slinger into a videogame. His acrobatic, wall-clinging, and hyper-sensitive abilities ultimately make him a nice fit for the medium. However, it rarely works out right. Edge of Time comes as yet another missed opportunity in a lineage of letdowns. The entirety of the game takes place indoors, inside a single building even, removing much of the need for web-slinging which is so central to the character’s appeal and necessitating maybe too much wall crawling in its claustrophobic corridors.

Spider-Man’s story threatens to be interesting at points. It revolves around two central Spider-Men – Peter Parker (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099) – different dudes, similar arachnoid personas with approximately familiar play styles. Their stories interconnect when antagonist Walker Sloan (voiced by a half-interested Val Kilmer) goes back in time and turns the Daily Bugle into the dastardly future corporation Alchemex. The surrounding area of New York City’s adversely affected, becoming a dystopian hell hole, while its revealed Peter Parker will one day become the head of Alchemex. It’s up to the Spider-Men to cooperate through segments which connect in parallel to one another. It all feels like amateurish Science Fiction, but it’s evident that Beenox have read at least a couple comics.

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What’s surprising, then, is the low level of fan service otherwise. There’s occasional newspaper highlights which detail changes in the timeline to peruse, some unlockable action figures to flick through and a handful of costumes, but not much else. Of the four central enemies, two are new and are of little relevance to what fans are looking for from such a game.

Following an opening boss battle you’re incapable of winning just yet, the corridor crawler begins with just that – you make your way through air ducts as credits cinematically place themselves on the surroundings. The only direction is forward – move the thumb stick in any direction and the Spider-Man lurches ahead. There are a number of segments where straight beat-em-up sections and swinging around the confined rooms of the single claustrophobic location give way to these funnels, pushing you toward the next area. Like a rat in a maze. Some segments are actually well designed and occasionally fun, like when Spider-Man 2099 gets to go flying down an elevator shaft and avoid the large number of hazards. It’s only too bad the rest remains so bleak – merely functional at best, aspiring to be nothing more than a cash grab at its worst.

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Spider-Man deserves far better. If nothing else, the first rule of a Spider-Man game ought to be to just let him loose in an open world environment. Fun will find its way. There’s some initial promise here, but it’s ultimately a regressive, if not a lateral move from the last game, hampered mostly by its own lack of ambition, scope, and an overly demanding release schedule.

4 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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