Spider-Man: Edge of Time is on the edge of being a waste of time.

User Rating: 6 | Spider-Man: Edge of Time PS3
Everyone's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has had a few bumps in his video game career. Developer Beenox attributed to one of those bumps with their lackluster 2007 title Friend or Foe. Making up for that game, they gave us last year's excellent Shattered Dimensions only to shatter hearts just a year later by releasing an underwhelming and monotonous Spider-Man: Edge of Time.

Only Doc Brown would have no problems trying to wrap his head around Edge of Time's nonsensical storyline. Miguel O'hara suspects that Alchemax scientist Walker Sloan is up to no good. Donning his Spider-Man 2099 costume, he sets out to track Sloan and discovers his plan to use a time portal to establish Alchemax 100 years in the past and head off any future competition. Chasing Sloan through the time portal, O'hara gets stuck midway and watches helplessly as the present day Amazing Spider-Man is killed by Anti-Venom. Sloan's altering of the past immediately rewrites Peter Parker's time, transforming the Daily Bugle into an Alchemax tower, and Parker is once again alive. O'hara has invented some kind of way to talk to Parker telepathically through time and informs him of his impending doom with Anti-Venom. Now, the two Spider-Men must work together, each in their own time to accomplish common goals: save each other and save the world.

Spider-Man: Edge of Time introduces you to a theoretical concept called quantum causality. It's the theory that if you change something in the past, there is an immediate change in the future. The game puts this theory in motion as you swap back and forth between Spideys. A picture-in-picture window displays in the corner of the screen that shows what the other Spider-Man is doing. Spider-Man 2099 might be in danger of being crushed to death by a giant sentry robot, and you can help him as Amazing Spider-Man by destroying the prototype robot while it's still being built. There's a period in the game where the two Web Heads swap dimensions, and then Spider-Man 2099 might be making architectural changes to get rid of obstructions in the building for Amazing Spider-Man, who's now in the future. Quantum causality makes for an interesting storytelling device, but it also is very hard to understand and follow and highly unbelievable even by comic book standards.

The gameplay of Spider-Man: Edge of Time is practically identical between the masked superheros. You run around mostly confined corridors and low ceiling rooms, crawling around many series of air vents to advance from one area of the building to another. During your treks, you'll be fighting groups of mindless thugs and security robots who either try to slug it out with you up close or shoot you from afar, and it's usually to find a key (or sets of keys) to move on to the next area. Even though both Spiders have their own set of special moves to spend portal energy (the game's currency) on, they don't distinguish themselves enough from each other. It doesn't matter how you do it; just keep mashing buttons until everyone's dead.

As with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, you're given optional objectives throughout the game via the Web of Challenges to earn medals that unlocks bonus content in the game, such as concept art and costumes. They consist of objectives such as defeating a certain amount of enemies in a given time, or surviving a free fall segment by taking as few hits as possible. There are also gold spiders that can sometimes be earned by defeating every possible enemy in an area. The gold spiders can be used to unlock health and stamina enhancements.

The combat unfortunately just never seems to evolve into anything interesting. Compound by the fact that the enemies are dull and not varied and the level designs lack any sort of creativity, and you have a game that begins to wear out its welcome rather quickly. There is also a woeful lack of bosses and character appearances from both Spider-Man universes. Anti-Venom is of course the most prominent villain, but there's a brief shot of Otto Octavius (aka Dr. Octopus) working with Sloan, and then a completely unexplained boss battle with Black Cat. That's it. This deprivation of characters makes the game's universe that much more barren.

Then of course, there's mobility or lack thereof. Shattered Dimensions was not an open-world game like Web of Shadows and previous similar games, but it did allow for many areas with enough room to swing around in. Edge of Time very rarely gives you enough space, so you constantly feel like a caged spider never allowed to spread his legs. If that wasn't enough, Beenox still has yet to learn how to probably handle wall crawling. Trying to maneuver Peter or Miguel around on walls is akin to driving a Zamboni through a china shop. Lastly, there are many free falling segments you'll play as Spider-Man 2099. The controls are jerky, not smooth as silk as they should be like other games who've handheld free falling levels better. You'll find yourself hitting objects quite often as a result, and holding X to make yourself go faster only increases the risk.

Technically, Spider-Man: Edge of Time looks great. The character models are built and textured very well, and that's even more evident when the camera zooms in right behind them. The special effects are very flashy to the point of being distracting. There's so much going on with color lines being generated each time Spider-Man 2099 lashes out with his talons to Amazing Spider-Man's ghostly trails he leaves behind as he enters Hyper Sense that you sometimes lose track of who you're fighting amidst the chaos. Artistically, the game falls short as it's a nonstop barrage of cold and uninteresting laboratory and warehouse corridors. There's a cool graphical effect as quantum causality changes your environment around you, but it doesn't help the level design to be more creative. The lip syncing in the in-game cutscenes is also largely inconsistent, but the CG cinemas are much better.

The game's audio sounds pretty much what you'd think a Spider-Man game would sound like. There's the classic thwips from Spidey's web shooters. There are bops and baps and smacks as the heroes whale on their enemies. Energy beams hum and explosions pack a wallop. The soundtrack is pretty decent, but it tends to play out the same themes throughout the game, leaving a desire for more variety. It cues itself to accent the action just fine, though. The voice acting is about as top notch as Spider-Man games have been known to be backed by always well-written dialogue. Edge of Time sees the return of two Shattered Dimensions voice actors. Ultimate Spider-Man's Josh Keaton voices Amazing Spider-Man, while Spider-Man Noir's Christopher Daniel Barnes voices Spider-Man 2099. Val Kilmer has also been cast to voice Walker Sloan, but he doesn't make him sound evil enough.

Spider-Man: Edge of Time is roughly six to seven hours long but during that time, you're not given nearly the variety of Beenox's preceding title Shattered Dimensions. Although the story's rather confusing, seeing the two Spider-Men work together in their own dimensions is entertaining. The lack of iconic Spider-Man villains for boss fights deeply hurts the experience, though, and only magnifies the tediousness of the gameplay and level design. Hardcore Spidey fans might love the game enough to overlook its many flaws, and they'll be encouraged to play through again in Hard mode and to complete the Web of Challenges to unlock all the bonus content the game has to offer. If you have a mild interest in Spider-Man games, however, it's hard to recommend Edge of Time at full price.