Reviewed: October 24, 2011
Released: October 4, 2011
There is no denying the Spider-Man universe has taken some convoluted turns over the years, the most notable being the advent of a future web-slinger in the form of Spider-Man 2099. In the 2099 series, current-day news photographer Peter Parker is dead and gone, and the webbed one is helmed by famed genetic scientist Miguel O’Hara. |
Spider-Man: Edge of Time makes a valiant attempt to connect the original Peter Parker Spider-Man with the future Miguel O’Hara Spider-Man 2099 through an interesting storyline that defies the laws of time and space. Long story short, future Spider-Man 2099’s Miguel uncovers a plan devised by fellow Alchemax Corporation scientist Walter Sloan to travel back in time (to the present day) and found the Alchemax Corporation for himself.
Miguel attempts to stop Sloan, but finds himself trapped within the time portal. He sees a vision of the Peter Parker Spider-Man being killed by uber-enemy Anti-Venom before being flung back in his own 2099 world, which has been transformed into a tyrannical state as a result of Sloan’s historical alterations. Miguel – the genetic scientist – uses a stored sample of Peter Parker’s DNA to form a communications link between the two to pass information back and forth between the present and future, and the two Spidey’s work together to undo the changes made by Sloan.
Over the course of the story, the characters will stop timelines, and Sloan will merge with Anti-Venom and Doctor Octupus to make one badass enemy named “Atrocity”. Convoluted as it is, the storyline is delivered with exceptional production value, including excellent scripting and solid voice acting from the likes of Spider-Man vets Josh Keaton (Peter Parker) and Christopher Barnes (Miguel O’Hara), both of whom have quite a history voicing the webbed one in cartoons and video games over the years. A surprise cameo by Val Kilmer, as the nefarious Sloan, rounds out the stable of voice actors.
It is only a shame that the drab visuals do not meet the same standard. Taking place entirely within the confines of the Alchemax Corporation building, the cookie cutter laboratories and conference rooms are hardly as impressive as the open cityscapes of the Spidey’s more recent sandbox titles.
Likewise, confining the gameplay to an indoor setting does not bode well for the web-head, resulting in far too many accidental web-shots and a herky-jerky feel compared to the fluid swinging of the earlier releases. And – not the fault of the developers – the Wii’s controller-Nunchuk combination does little to help matters out with its confusing button layout with which the developers had to cram together a control scheme that is in no way intuitive – with actions mapped to D-Pad directions, it never really seems to come as second nature like it should.
True to the Spider-Man lineage, Edge of time is a tried and true brawler, with Spidey only slinging enough web to hold the enemy still for a future pummeling, or to grab surrounding objects for an never-gets-old over-the-head smashing. The series plays nearly identical to its 1999 PlayStation release, for better or worse.
As for ingenuity, Edge of Time employs a mechanic in which parallel events affect each other – basically, changes made in the present day affect the future layout in Alchemax allowing Peter to take present day actions to help Miguel solve puzzles in the future. We have seen this before in gaming, and while it can tend to create a bit of “Groundhog Day” syndrome with overuse, the premise that present day actions affect future characters is novel.
Believe me, with two young Spider-Man fanatics in the house, nothing would please me more than to announce that Spider-Man: Edge of Time is the Arkham Asylum (now Arkham City) that all Spidey fans have been waiting for. That it is not – but it does show signs of life in terms of the scripting and storyline presentation. Now if the folks at Beenox could nail down the gameplay elements it would definitely help the franchise turn a corner and come out on top – where it should be.