Spider-Man: Edge of Time First Look Preview

Beenox and Activision show off Spider-Man's latest time-hopping adventure.

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Following the success of last year's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Activision crowned Canadian developer Beenox as the primary developer on future titles featuring the Marvel Comics icon. The first game to be primed for release following the developer's "lead spider developer" status is the recently announced Spider-Man: Edge of Time. While the game isn't a direct sequel to Shattered Dimensions, it shares its predecessors multi-Spidey vibe, albeit with a new twist. Whereas Shattered Dimensions offered an action adventure ensemble, Edge of Time changes the formula by putting a buddy-cop-movie twist on the action and throwing in some time travel for good measure. We recently had the chance to get a proper run through the game by Beenox and Activision reps, which showed off what the game is going to offer.

As we noted earlier, Edge of Time is not a direct sequel to Shattered Dimensions. The game features an original story that revolves around Spider-Man 2099 and Amazing Spider-Man teaming up to stop a chronal catastrophe that threatens their worlds and just about everything in between. The time shenanigans kick off in 2099 when an evil scientist travels back in time to change the timeline to something a little more conducive to the evil scientist lifestyle. Unfortunately, this requires some murder, namely the death of Amazing Spider-Man. While Spider-Man 2099 tries to stop the scientist before he starts, the futuristic wallcrawler just misses him and winds up getting caught in a time bubble that protects him from the timeline changes that happen around him. The good news is that he retains his memories of how things should be and is able to contact Amazing Spider-Man before his death. The bad news is that the two don't get along, which gets the cross-time team off to a rough start. Will the pair find a way to get along and save the day? Probably, but from the look of things, it's not going to be easy.

The story's time travel angle is more than just a narrative device and figures prominently in Edge of Time's gameplay. The core gameplay should be familiar to Spider-fans who've played previous Spider-Man games, especially Shattered Dimensions. The webslingers will have unique abilities that differentiate them from each other. Amazing is the speedy, acrobatic fighter of the pair and incorporates web constructs into his combat moves of punches, kicks, and leaps. For Edge of Time, Beenox has buffed him out with a new evasion move that will let him dodge just about anything when used properly. Well, almost anything, considering he isn't going to be able to dodge his impending death without some help. 2099 is more of a powerhouse, throwing hard-hitting punches and kicks with a wide reach. His moves have been enhanced with a new decoy ability that lets him create a duplicate of himself to throw off enemies.

The time element in the gameplay has you bouncing between the past and the current, slightly busted 2099 future. The action is set in the Alchemax building in both eras, a massive, small-city-sized building that's a cross between a fortress and a science lab. The actions taken by Amazing Spider-Man in the past impact 2099's reality in a variety of ways. In the demo we saw, which showed off the third and fourth levels in the game, this played out in two key ways. The first element was basic and required both Spider-Men to be at the same location in both eras so they could work as a team. The second was a bit more mind warping: When 2099 is forced to fight a massive robot blocking his path, Amazing has a timed sequence where he has to destroy the prototype of the robot in the past. As he takes out various components of the robot in the past, the mech pounding 2099 becomes incapacitated and eventually disappears.

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Unfortunately, as most any sci-fi time scholar can tell you, this alters the timeline, meaning one big problem can be replaced by another or by several smaller ones. Time is funny that way. As a result, the gameplay looks like it's going to have quite a few "good news, bad news" moments as one threat is replaced by another. The upside is that there should be a lot of variety to the action. Finally, as before, both heroes will be able to use their spider sense to get insight into their goals and spot enemies, crawl on walls, and, for 2099, enjoy some freefall segments. The other familiar mechanic fans will appreciate is the ability to earn "spider essence" from downed foes that you'll be able to spend to upgrade your existing abilities and moves as well as to unlock new ones. In addition, fans can spend essence on alternate costumes.

The demo gave us a good sense of how the game is going to be structured and highlighted the intriguing time mechanic, especially in relation to interaction between the Spideys. As we mentioned earlier, the two don't get along, and because 2099 is linked to Amazing, there's an awful lot of bickering going on between the two during the action, courtesy of a picture-in-picture-style display that has one of the pair popping up in the lower right-hand corner of the screen from time to time. Besides being used as a griping mechanism, the picture-in-picture display is used to show off important events in the timelines and offer direction. It's a neat twist that looks like it's being put to good use.

The whole affair is being brought together by some key names that fans should recognize from the games and comics. Veteran writer Peter David was tapped for the story and, given his experience with time shenanigans, is well suited to crafting the tale. The voice actors being tapped to bring the webhead to life are also experienced in their business. Josh Keaton, a spider-vet whose work includes voicing the webbed hero in the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and voicing Ultimate in Shattered Dimensions, is on hand to voice Amazing. Christopher Daniel Barnes, whose spider street cred includes the '90s Spider-Man animated series and Shattered Dimensions, where he voiced Spider-Man Noir, is being tapped for 2099.

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Based on this early look, Spider-Man: Edge of Time appears to have an interesting premise that Beenox is making smart use of. We've got the expected questions around which villains are being included, how long the game will be, and what cameos to look for, but it looks like those answers will come later, because no one was talking. We definitely like what we've seen so far. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is slated to ship this fall for the 3DS, DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360.

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