Spider-Man: Edge of Time is Activision’s attempt to turn last year’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions into annual series. This is not a good thing, and it shows. While there are clear attempts to differentiate the two games, it’s impossible to ignore how many elements of the game are identical.
When you break it down, Edge of Time is Shattered Dimensions but with two Spider-Men instead of four. Fewer Spider-Men doesn’t bother me, just the fact that the basic plot mimics last year’s model.
Instead of being in separate dimensions, the Spider-Men of Edge of Time are connected by, you guessed it, time travel. Specifically, Alan Sloane, an arch-nemesis of Spider-Man 2099, goes back in time to create his massive technology empire, Alchemax, made even bigger by starting the company far before it was originally founded, as well as to kill the inspiration for his rival, present-day (Amazing) Spider-Man. By doing this, the two heroes become able to directly communicate. They work together in order to keep present day Spider-Man alive and bring down Alchemax.
The largest mechanical twist in Edge of Time is that the Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara (future spider-man) must communicate in order navigate the treacherous their constantly changing times. Sometimes one will do something that creates a serious problem for the other, either by changing something for the worse or because the fabric of time is falling apart.
Unfortunately, based on Activision’s demo, these dilemmas seem to always manifest themselves in the same way: One Spider-Man is incapacitated and on the brink of death for some reason, and the other needs to accomplish an objective to save them. In other words, there no new game mechanic, simply a way of adding urgency and objective-based sequence at will.
The gameplay also looks incredibly similar to the last game, and it even seems as if there’s less diversity this time around. By losing the Spider-Man Noir stealth segments from SD, the game is now a full-time brawler. The combat is almost exactly the same, except that both Spider-Men have been given more powerful super-modes. Amazing Spider-Man can now use “Hyper Spider-Sense” to make himself basically invincible for a few seconds. This is used to help escape traps and other environmental hazards. Spider-Man 2099 has “accelerated vision”, which is a combination of bullet time and the “last position” mechanic from Splinter Cell: Conviction. Basically, you run around and pummel enemies while they very slowly try to take out what appears to be a hologram of you. The new combat-related feature is the time vortex; an area attack enabled by collecting orbs caused by the rip in time.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was a good, albeit buggy game and worthy of a sequel, on the condition that the game’s problems would be fixed. In the time given, I doubt that Beenox would be able change the game at all, never-mind improve it or innovate. The result isn’t shattered dimensions, but ruined expectations.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is due out this spring, for better or worse. Check out these screens.