Spider-Man hasn’t had much luck in the game industry lately. Activision has put Beenox in charge of the franchise and their first effort, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, was decent fun. It offered a nice selection of Spider-Men with nice variety, but the entire game lacked focus and suffered a bit for its linearity. Spider-Man: Edge of Time limits it to two Spider-Men and focuses more on the time-travel aspects of the story that were briefly touched upon previously. It does offer a more focused experience, but at a hefty cost.
The story begins with Spider-Man 2099 trailing Dr. Walker Sloan, CEO of a company known as Alchemex, as he finds a way to travel back in time to start his company sooner, thus changing the timeline for both 2099 and the original Spider-Man. This leads to both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 working together to attempt to stop him, with a ton of wacky hijinks along the way. The story is inconsequential; it doesn’t feel like a Spider-Man tale, just one that happens to have Spider-Man in it, but it’s far from bad. The lack of Spider-Man villains outside of Anti-Venom and an occasional appearance from Doc Ock is a real disappointment though.
Throughout the game, you find yourself switching fairly often between the two Spider-Men as the story calls for it. Sometimes you’ll run into a situation where Spider-Man 2099 is in a situation he can’t handle and, as regular Spider-Man, you need to destroy or fix something in your time to make sure it never existed in his. It’s a little tricky to attempt to explain, but events like these are sprinkled throughout the experience to offer a little extra variety to the otherwise mundane objectives. You will mostly find yourself defeating waves of enemies, getting a key or set of keys, and then unlocking a door to move to the next area. It’s dull and you are only rarely offered something new to do to break up the monotony.
Both Spider-Men control similarly. Regular Spider-Man focuses on a combination of close-quarters and long-range combat while 2099 Spider-Man is mostly close quarters. The differences are pretty miniscule, and besides of the look of the environments and the enemies you face (humans and robots mostly), they are pretty much the same characters.
You are offered upgrades throughout your journey, but outside of health upgrades the different powers you’ll unlock are pretty useless. Both Spider-Men have their own sets of abilities, but once again, the differences are practically nonexistent. One of the first powers you unlock for both characters is the “time paradox” which allows you to freeze time around for briefly if you feel outnumbered or in danger. It can be useful at times, but it’s not often when you feel truly threatened by the game’s numerous generic enemies.
The worst part about this game is how constrained it feels. With Shattered Dimensions, you at least had some variety with the four different Spider-Men, but Edge of Time’s two leads offer little in the way of that. You have web-swinging mechanics, but you rarely find a use for them as you are almost always in tight corridors or slightly larger rooms for most of the game. The fact that the entire game takes place in the same building is enough to indicate that it doesn’t even feel like a Spider-Man game most of the time, making hard to recommend to even die-hard Spidey fans.
If you’re looking for a decent Spider-Man game, just go back and check out Web of Shadows or, for something more linear but a bit more tolerable, Shattered Dimensions has some good moments as well. Edge of Time simply does nothing to expand on a franchise that is in desperate need for a good game, especially with mechanics that have been proven to work so well outside of the typical trappings of a linear action title. There’s nothing amazing about this Spider-Man.
Pros: Silly-but-okay story, decent controls
Cons: Boring combat, no variety whatsoever, game simply doesn’t play to the strengths of the character(s)