Back in 2009, Beenox released one of the most intriguing super-hero games of this generation, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. The title was far from perfect but the “shattered dimensions” in the game allowed for a versatile experience, albeit a surprisingly flat story, that offered players a chance to step into the shoes of four different Spider-Men – each with their own specific gameplay mechanics.
Now, Beenox is web-swinging onto the scene once again with a new Spidey title, Spider-Man: Edge of Time. The title once again splits the narrative between different versions of everyone’s favorite web-head – though, this round, players will only take control of The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. Surprisingly, two of the more interesting (and enjoyable) gameplay experiences from Shattered Dimensions, Spider-Man Noir and Ultimate Spider-Man, got left in the past (and near future), respectively.
Since Beenox elected to cut the Spider-Man roster in half, the developer should be able to put-forward a more compelling story this round – especially since Spider-Man 2099 (by far the least exciting character in Shattered Dimensions) should easily play into the Edge of Time plot. As a matter of fact, the story was written by Spider-Man 2099 creator, Peter David.
The basic plot revolves around an evil scientist, Walker Sloane, who travels back in time from the Spider-Man 2099 (aka Miguel O’Hara) future and successfully kills Peter Parker aka The Amazing Spider-Man (so that he can’t prevent the villain from building a powerful empire in the past) using fan-favorite anti-hero, Anti-Venom. Spider-Man 2099 manages to contact Parker and attempts to guide him in a mission to avert Sloane’s plan – before it results in the Amazing Spider-Man’s death. Instead of a Star Trek-esque alternate reality/time travel philosophy, Spider-Man: Edge of Time relies on good old fashioned Back to the Future-style time disruptions – meaning, if Sloane alters something in the past – it can have catastrophic effects on the future.
This “cause and effect” storyline is a huge element of the title – in terms of plot progression as well as gameplay. As a result, Edge of Time presents players with two unique worlds: where The Amazing Spider-Man must press forward in the present, pursuing his would-be-killers, as well as the world of 2099 – which is more “reactive” and constantly shifting (as a result of the large-scale altercations occurring in the past).
Based on our E3 2011 demo, the cause and effect gameplay presents one of the primary “objective” mechanics in the game – i.e. if Spider-Man inadvertently destroys a ventilation system in the past while battling Sloane’s goons, Spider-Man 2099 could start choking on poison gas – and Parker would have to race against the clock to fix the system in the present. Certain cause-and-effect sequences definitely challenge the boundaries of logic a bit (i.e. how could the facility still be operational if poisonous gas had been pouring-out for almost a century); however, the mechanic definitely promises some cool puzzles and other exhilarating set-piece possibilities.
Gameplay in the title closely mirrors Shattered Dimensions, with The Amazing Spider-Man utilizing a lot of acrobatic attacks and ranged combat – as well as a new special “hyper-sense” feature that allows Parker to easily dodge projectiles and get a leg-up in a fight. Spider-Man 2099 is more melee focused – and includes an “accelerated vision” special feature that allows O’Hara to drop decoy-like doubles, out-pace attackers, as well as (in some cases) cause twice the damage to foes by joining forces with the aforementioned doubles (physics aside). There appears to be plenty of combos and special moves to unlock but, at the heart of the game, it’s still a nuanced button-masher/action title – much like its predecessor.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time isn’t likely to change many minds, if a player wasn’t particularly sold on Shattered Dimensions. There’s no doubt that it’s a competent Spider-Man game, especially compared to the other superhero properties, it lacks the ingenuity and polish necessary to make the game one of the best web-head titles yet.
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Spider-Man: Edge of Time will be available this Fall on all major platforms.