Spider-Man: Edge of Time
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.
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.
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.
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.