With great power there must also come great responsibility. After creating an enjoyable Spider-Man game that dove into not just one but four Spider-Man universes, a big responsibility was handed to developer Beenox. Shattered Dimensions ended up being one of the best adventures we have seen the web swinging hero take in a video game, so why not give them the power - what could possibly go wrong?
Now marked down as the lead developer for all future Spider-Man titles, Beenox tries to teach us a lesson or two about what happens when you mess with the cause and effect of time. Continuing to put the player into multiple suits, Spider-Man: Edge of Time sees Peter Parker from Amazing Spider-Man and Miguel O’Hara from Spider-Man 2099 join forces to save each other’s timeline. Over in the year 2099 the brilliant scientist Walker Sloan builds a gateway device allowing him travel back in time to a point where he can found the company Alchemax decades before it was originally supposed to be. This creates a drastic ripple effect which changes both timelines and sends our heroes out to correct what has been altered.
As with the last title you’ll jump back and forward playing between the two characters in the different periods. The combat system consists of laying an onslaught of devastating hits into your opponents - all controlled by button combinations to perform a variety of moves. The problem is we have been extremely spoiled by the combat in one of this year’s Game of The Year contenders, Batman: Arkham City.
Where in Batman the fighting is very fluid and responsive, Edge of Time offers a huge variety of moves but you will often find yourself stuck in animations and unable to defend yourself. There is no real way to counter oncoming attacks, so once you start performing a combat move you’ve got to take the chance and hope you don’t get hit from behind if an enemy decides to go in for a punch.
On top of this there are opponents who take flight and leave the ground before performing an attack - the most effective way to get them down is to interrupt them with a webshot. Unfortunately the lock-on for this is automatic and I frequently found myself just running around spamming the button trying to get a hit in. In the end shots would go all over the place and I’d be the one ending up bruised and battered. Because of some of these problems with the combat, in most situations it’s just easier to mash the attack button rather than attempt to pull off the range of awesome looking moves which ultimately leave you open for an ass kicking.
The art style used in Shattered Dimensions to identify and separate the different universes has been scrapped. That cell-shaded style from the Amazing Spider-Man world is gone and has been replaced with a unified look between the two universes. The environments you’re expected to work through are actually quite small for a game built on the act of web swinging. Instead of open cityscapes you end up in small areas which make swinging difficult - as a result the majority of what you’re doing is “web-zipping” from auto lock-on locations.
Shattered Dimensions had a range of unique levels which were so full of life and allowed you to freely swing around huge areas. There was a fantastic one where you had to battle your way around an oil rig controlled by Deadpool in the middle of the ocean - it was absolutely brilliant. Here in Edge of Time the creativity is gone - everything looks the same and it’s corridor after corridor.
Even Spidey’s wall crawling ability is clunky - the camera swings into different positions when moving from wall to ceiling which then changes the controls and makes you crawl in the wrong direction. It was easier for me to run through the ‘deadly’ laser beams then to carefully manoeuvre my way around them while trying to fight with the camera and controls.
There is a distinct lack of characters built into this story with less than half the amount of villains compared to the last adventure, some of which you don’t even get to slap around. But one change I liked is that there is a lot of interaction between the Spidey’s, this is mostly thanks to a type of psychic link created by Miguel using Peter’s DNA. You’ll get to see the other character visually in the bottom right of the screen - whether they are in the middle of a fight, trying to make their way to the next objective, chiming in to offer some helpful advice, or throwing around some of that witty Spider-Man banter.
It is a nice little touch but there isn't enough a strong enough distinction between the two characters. See you’ve got two of the main voice actors who have returned from the last game, but they are both playing different Spider-Mans this time around. Josh Keaton voiced Ultimate previously, whereas in this one he is Amazing. Christopher Daniel Barnes previously voiced Noir, now he is filling the shoes of 2099. The problem I had is that both characters end up sounding and acting the same - but they shouldn’t. Peter Parker comes across the way you would expect Peter Parker to sound, but then you have this Miguel O’Hara character that is being played as if he was Peter Parker. Shattered Dimensions had a clear division between 2099 and the rest of the cast - here it just blends together and you’re left wondering if they are in fact long lost twins.
There is some replayability present with a stack of challenges that pop-up during different sections of the game. These will give you rewards and bonus that you can use to build up your characters skills, so if you don’t manage to complete them you’re given the option in the menu kick these off again at any time.
With so few characters, smaller areas to roam in, environments that all look the same, and minor changes to the combat system, this seems like half a game compared to their last release. Rather than build upon Shattered Dimensions and further refine the Spider-Man experience, Spider-Man: Edge of Time takes a step back and feels like something that was quickly rushed out the door while still trying to trap consumers in a badly tangled web.