There are some differences between our two heroes. Spidey 2099 has a special move which leaves his enemies attacking a decoy while he bashes them, while Spider 2011 has a hyper-sense mode which allows him to move fast and whack his foes before they get a chance to whack him back. The close combat – as with nearly every other second-rate superhero epic of the year – bears the influence of Sony’s God of War trilogy, with plenty of hard-hitting combos and a gauge that, when filled up, allows you to pull off an even harder-hitting super move. It works OK, but there’s nothing that distinctive or satisfying about it.
Interspersed with all the brawling we get occasional action sequences which see Spidey 2099 gliding down a shaft and avoiding obstacles, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds, or timed challenges where a location has to be reached or several switches pressed before something disastrous ocurrs. There are set-piece fights, some simple puzzles to solve, doors to unlock, keys to find and the occasional boss battle to get through. Where thought and creativity was lavished on Shattered Dimensions, Edge of Time seems to have come straight from a super-hero game recipe book.
This is a shame. The mostly interior levels do little to capitalise on Spidey’s unique strengths – wall-crawling, web-swinging and acrobatic leaps – and when there is a lot of vertical action, nasty switches of camera angle contrive to make it all a bit confusing. And while you’d think the dual-Spidey angle was tailor made for the kind of world-switching, puzzle solving fun we’ve seen in classic Metroid and Zelda games, there’s none to be seen. After a while, you forget which bit is present and which is future, or why it even matters.
Despite this, the game does have some strengths. The script, by comics scribe Peter David, is arguably more interesting than the gameplay, and there are real moments of drama as the game goes on, with solid voice-work and a nice eye for cinematic camera angles. And while the background scenery veers between cool retro sci-fi and dishwater dull generic stuff, the character models are beautifully done, with lavish detail in the costumes and animation. There are some cool collectibles and unlocks, including some alternative Spidey costumes, and the game is thick in the lore of the extended Marvel universe. This isn’t incompetent hack work, by any means, it’s just unpolished and a bit misconceived.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is no disaster, but it’s a peculiar choice not to build on the strong foundations of the previous Spider-Man game. Despite a decent background story and reasonable graphics, the gameplay feels generic and doesn’t work with the biggest strengths of the star. If you can only buy one super-hero game this week, this one is not the one to buy,