Are two Spider-Men better than one? Spider-Man: Edge of Time attempts to answer that question with not one, but two web-slinging superheroes working together across time to heal a major rift. Does it deliver the kind of experience and great play that fans of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man expect?
Our favorite friendly neighborhood vigilante swings back onto game shelves this month. Spider-Man: Edge of Time attempts to one-up its predecessor, Shattered Dimensions, as it introduces everybody’s favorite storytelling gimmick, time travel. So you get two Spideys for the price of one. Sadly, though the game has some things going for it, it ultimately doesn't live up to Dimensions. If you're looking for the definitive Spider-Man experience, it seems you're holding out for the wrong hero.
You play as both The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, hero of present-day New York, and as Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man of the year 2099. When Walker Sloan, a scientist at megacorporation Alchemax, hops back through time to the 1970s and founds Alchemax long before it's supposed to exist, the consequences are immediate and dramatic.
Present-day New York instantly transforms into a bleak-looking place, and Peter Parker goes from intrepid Daily Bugle photographer to Alchemax employee. O'Hara and Parker join forces across time to undo the damage with their superpowers and brisk repartee.
The Spider-Men banter is one of the better things about Edge of Time; Parker's signature wisecracks make for the perfect Oscar to O'Hara's more serious Felix demeanor. Energetic voice acting helps to make their interactions believable, even when nothing else about the story is.
Unfortunately, although their personalities may contrast, playing as the two Spider-Men feels very similar. As both Parker and O'Hara, you unleash combos by rapidly pressing one button, launch enemies into the air with another, and fire web shots with a third. There's some fun to be had in clobbering the thugs, robots, and mutants that try to put a stop to the Spideys, and using their super-speed abilities to attack enemies while those enemies continue to attack where you were standing an instant earlier is empowering.
But although you unlock new moves and power up existing ones throughout the course of the game, the combat doesn't evolve in any meaningful way. It never requires much skill, so defeating your enemies doesn't remain rewarding. It also doesn't look great. The game should look stylish as you're putting the hurt on the bad guys, but Edge of Time goes overboard with the flashy effects. Color lines follow O'Hara's attacks, for instance, and Parker's hyper-sense ability creates a trail of ghostly impressions of him. In the heat of battle, these dazzling distractions sometimes overshadow the action they're intended to emphasize.
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