Review: Spider-Man: Edge of Time

I rather enjoyed Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, but found ultimately that Spider-Man: Web of Shadows more expertly implemented the aspects I really enjoy about Spidey (namely his personality and his arsenal of attacks) as well as combined a viable open world ripe for perusing. Time travel and/or altering of the space/time continuum and playing as different Spideys just wasn’t truly my cup of tea, though Shattered Dimensions did put up an admirable fight. The latest addition to the string of Spidey sequels is Spider-Man: Edge of Time, developer Beenox’s next up to bat. It allows players to control two Spideys in two different time planes and combines many past elements from the previous games that seem to work well together, but in the end feels more claustrophobic than liberating.

In the year 2099, Evil Scientist Extraordinaire (TM) Walter Sloan stumbles onto a way to alter history to his liking. Alchemax, Sloan’s company, rises into notoriety as a revered superpower. Future Spider-Man Miguel O’Hara sees something’s going down and sets about using the stored DNA of Peter Parker, also known as the Spidey of yesteryear, to see through the threads of Sloan’s evil plot and unravel it before it can come to fruition. Sounds complicated, right? It’s probably the most convoluted part of the game. The rest is quite simple and straightforward; a time-transcending adventure with little heart and little reason to soldier on.

You’ll often find yourself manipulating situations both as 2099 Spidey and “present” Spidey, switching between the two at will. Except things cease to be interesting from there. Most of your time spent as Miguel is exerted as you explore air ducts and the bowels of skyscrapers. You really don’t have enough room to manuever in these buildings so too much webslinging is out of the question, making Edge of Time feel much more restrictive than the other two games previously mentioned. Past Spidey feels the most fluid, retaining familiar movesets and attacks you should remember from Web of Shadows, at least, and he’s now got ultra speed. Future Spidey can sidestep attacks and leave doppelgangers for the dumb-as-hammers enemies to attack. While both Spideys feel well and control tightly, the luster quickly begins to wear off, especially when you realize you’re not actually accomplishing a lot when switching between the two heroes of different eras.

In fact, you’ll usually only need to switch to unlock a door, eradicate a piece of the scenery, or to access an area that one hero could not, for one reason or another. For a game entirely built around the premise of time, this came off as more than a little lazy and underwhelming. It’s an interesting mechanic to be sure, but nothing to write home about when you realize how empty it really is. As an aside, combat is also mightily repetitive, relying heavily on combos and button-mashing to clear an area of enemies. Yawn.

At the very least, visuals are lush and cartoony, and excellent voice acting makes up a smidge for what feels like the longest Spidey game yet, and I don’t mean that in a good way. You can finish the abridged campaign in four to six hours, and there are plenty of unlockables, but in all honesty it’s just not that interesting to stay in it for the long haul. I didn’t find Sloan’s plight to be immediate in any way, and being Spidey in enclosed areas feels even less like being Spidey than sneaking around in Shattered Dimensions. Here’s to hoping the next Spidey game takes a page from Rocksteady’s success and brings us an admirable glimpse into actually being Spider-Man.

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