Every kid has a favourite super hero. Every adult male still does. While there are many who rate the man of steel from planet Krypton, tons who love the steel-clad Iron Man, and even a few who worship that not so jolly green giant, the incredible Hulk (between me and you… he’s not that incredible), I have always been a massive fan of Spider-Man. There are two things that sold me on the arachnoid homo-sapiens: his constant witty wisecracks, and web-slinging between towering skyscrapers. Unfortunately in Spider-Man: Edge of Time, only one of those was present and in a form that only annoyed me. Continue reading and find out how I unraveled the good and the bad in this web.
The developers of Edge of Time, Beenox, also produced 2009’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which received favourable reviews. In Shattered Dimensions, Beenox put you in control of not one, not two, but four incarnations of Spider-Man. Fortunately for me, in Edge of Time they have scaled down a notch and provided just two web-heads to get to grips with. There’s Peter Parker’s Amazing Spider-Man and Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man 20. Two is more than enough for me.
The game, considering its name, unsurprisingly involves time-travel. Evil mastermind Walker Sloan, voiced by
the Saint Val Kilmer, returns in time from 2099 to the present and makes a few changes that alter the course of reality enough to put him in charge of things. It’s like Back to the Future, except without the horse racing. Personally if I went back in time, I’d get myself some original flavour ghost-pops, complete with MSG [Ed: Oh you people of low ambition…]. Meanwhile our web-slinger from the future teams up with Peter Parker to untangle this mess, with you the gamer at the helm. Some suitable scientific mumbo jumbo is thrown around explaining how the two web-crawlers are able to make changes affecting the each others time zones, but it’s all jargon, and who really pays attention anyhow? Suffice to say, in this game it’s possible, and s we spend our game time trying to put reality back on course, alternating between the two versions of Spider-Man. So far so good…
Let’s get the technical bits covered. The graphics are fantastic, bright, vivid, and well-textured. The character models look great and move fluidly, and as you would expect from a Spider-Man game, there is plenty of moving. The graphics really pop at every cut-scene, and these are the moments when you notice just how good they are. The voice acting too, is excellent, and yes Spider-Man’s witty repertoire is there, albeit in a fashion I didn’t like. But more on that later, patience people: Rome wasn’t built in a day. There’s a great musical score thrown in which goes a long way to keeping the pace up and I particularly enjoyed the opening credits segment of the game as Beenox chose an interesting way of introducing the game and it’s developers whilst keeping you in the game. Actually the game does a good job of keeping the momentum, with very little ‘load-time’ and a fluidity of change between one Spider-Man segment and the other.
The action in the game primarily revolves around either Spider-Man beating up large numbers of enemies and collecting energy spheres for much-needed upgrades. Amazing Spider-Man can outwit his enemies with his ‘Spider-Sense’; it’s useful for getting past lasers and incoming fire, but damned useless in a fight. Spider-Man 2099, on the other hand, is able to confuse his enemies by casting a decoy of himself while he moves forward at blistering pace. You’re also able to use time distortion to slow down time in an area around you, and there are a few other tricks, such as web-torpedoes and the ability to jump from one enemy to the next. However, while this sounds great, in Edge of Time the combat is sadly implemented in a hack and slash fashion. Gone is the precision and clever web fighting Spider-Man is known for. Here it’s replaced by hordes of enemies and some serious button mashing with very little variety. What’s more, when battle is on, you quickly realize that the two Spider-Men just aren’t that different. You’ll be pulling virtually the same moves, or at the utter least mashing the same buttons.
Spider-Man’s movement through the levels is also a little bit of a let-down. In my childhood fantasies, I was always swinging between buildings, suspended over city streets chock-full with cars and people. Edge of Time takes place entirely inside one massive building, ruining my childhood fantasy in one sweep. Even though it’s a huge building, it still feels confined and claustrophobic for a Spider-Man game, and Spider-Man’s movement in the building feels clunky. You can tap a button to jump to specific marked points and move from one to the next, but more often than not, I found this process hit or miss, and continually fell back to the ground floor, having to deal with the frustration of having to find my way back up. On the other hand, there are some really fun bits where Spider-Man 2099 is free-falling and avoiding objects and enemies on his way down. I admit I let out a whoop of joy in one of these segments. However, they still don’t get rid of that claustrophobic feeling I suffered throughout the remainder of the game.
Then there’s the witty repartee. Normally, Spider-Man directs his wit at the enemies around him. But in Edge of Time, apart from the scripted story bits, Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara are able to communicate through the time portal, inside each others minds. So the only sly commentary is between the two of them. While this might seem fine, it’s just not. The two are constantly berating each other and it quickly gets annoying. There’s far less wit and far more crass dialogue than I would have liked. That said, the story itself does develop significantly with the inclusion of some classic Spider-Man villains and friends, and this should placate die-hard fans a little. Thrown in are some great boss battles, and those crisp cinematics make sure the story is told in a very good looking fashion.
Overall Spider-Man: Edge of Time has some good moments. There’s the great graphics (especially in the cut scenes), the somewhat interesting storyline, and introduction of well known characters. Then there’s the ability to play as two different characters with different abilities (although, as we’ve seen, not that different after all). There’s more interest added in with collectibles and upgrades available for Spider-Man’s abilities. For re-playability, you have costumes and other collectibles, and while you’re in-game, there are challenges to complete, such as ‘kill 3 enemies in 30 seconds’. However, I’d advise staying away from these challenges while you’re trying to enjoy the game experience; they slow the game up and sometimes force a menu on you, losing any momentum that the experience may have had at that point. The combat is the major let down, (especially considering another super hero themed game out now) as is the environment. While the building is suitably neon and shiny, I wanted to be flying through the streets, able to climb any and every building, not be restricted to the bowels of one!
Score: 6 out of 10 prawns (Because it ruined my childhood fantasies and had clunky movement and combat)
Distributor: Megarom Games
RRP: R599 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii)
Release Date: 14 October 2011
Age Rating: 16