|System: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS|
|Release: October 4, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
The Spider-Man series as a whole has had an incredible morphology, with a successful reintroduction to the modern audience via the Ultimate Spider-Man comic books in 2000, and the big screen release two years later. A decade later, some feel the brand has become oversaturated by the media, while others remain happily trapped in the web with an undying respect for the stylish superhero. Now we are at the precipice of another major shift; a new movie series is on the way with a fresh cast and a revisit to Peter Parker's youth, as well as the recent comic book death in Ultimate Spider-Man #160 and news of the racial redesign invading the blogosphere. Here in the video game world, we have also seen a fair share of Spidey adventures, some good and some, well, far from good.
Canadian developer Beenox presented us with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions less than a year ago, which, aside from a few technical issues, provided satisfying and fast-paced action using four different incarnations of the webslinger. The upcoming game, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, was apparently being developed as Shattered Dimensions was getting set for retail shelves, and from recent trailers and gameplay footage, the game looks more polished than rushed. However, polished visuals are only a single facet of the game, and when every dimension is revealed, the game's place in purgatory along with the upcoming movie and new comic series has onlookers waiting to see if it will swing up or be cast down.
One of the biggest hooks of the game is definitely the story penned by veteran writer Peter David, which may hold our attention to the end whether the gameplay is good or bad. We begin in Spider-Man 2099's universe, where Alchemax scientist Walter Sloan has discovered a way of travelling back to the Amazing Spider-Man's time, using his far superior technology to control the earlier period and ultimately kill our hero. Now, 2099 and Amazing must work together across the two eras (despite their conflicting personalities), in order to save Amazing's life and 2099's future. The game will blend characters from both series, and we've been promised many cameos and nods to some lesser-known but beloved villains.
A central element of the game is a cause-and-effect system, where actions from Amazing's time will have an effect in 2099's world. Enemies in development and the structure of the colossal Alchemax building can be manipulated to quash a previous impasse. There will be an active onscreen window which will show the effects of your actions in the alternate universe. The problem I foresee is that these cause-and-effect actions could potentially become linear with the plot. There is incredible potential to make this an open-ended feature, presenting a variety of progressions and conclusions to the story. However, I have a gnawing feeling it will be a static concept, which would be a severe detriment to a brilliant idea.
Another interesting development choice is the scaled-down character selection. Compared to Shattered Dimensions, which allowed you to control Amazing, 2099, Ultimate, and Noir versions of Spidey, only the first two of the quartet are playable in Edge of Time. The defense for this decision is that the story will have a greater impact, but from a gameplay perspective, it equals less move sets. Players will find a similar attack style as in the previous game, with Amazing using a larger repertoire of web-based attacks and acrobatic skills, while 2099 gets up close and personal with heavy melee attacks. Each will require a unique strategy to dispatch enemies, and both come packed with exclusive skills, such as 2099's ghost decoy, which confuses enemies and allows him to set up finishing attacks. Essence is accumulated from defeated enemies, which can be used to upgrade and unlock new skills and attacks, as well as purchase different costumes.
Much of the story will be confined to the Alchemax building, which, although massive, may present us with overused level design. Also, Shattered Dimensions had many issues with "twitchy" cameras, especially in interior levels, so unless Beenox has remedied that issue, we could be in for a frustrating journey. To their credit, it seems that the developers have amped up some of the best parts of the previous game for Edge of Time, such as extended and more intense freefall levels with 2099.
For now, it seems like Spider-Man: Edge of Time has elements worthy of both praise and scorn, but it will likely require a complete playthrough to discern whether the pros outweigh the cons. Fortunately gamers of all categories will be able to test it out for themselves come October 4th, when it becomes available for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii, as well as the DS and 3DS.
CCC Contributing Writer