The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time's story plays out like a Stephen
Hawking book – if Stephen Hawking was a comic book-addicted third grader. The
terms "quantum causality," "Einstein-Rosen Bridge," "temporal paradox,"
"wormhole," and "timestorm" are thrown around at will with little regard for
scientific fact, and are mostly used as explanations for incomprehensible plot
This tale starts out with an easily graspable hook. In the
year 2099, an evil scientist named Walker Sloan figures out a way to alter
history. Through his tinkering, he's turned his company Alchemax into a
totalitarian powerhouse. The Spider-Man of this day, Miguel O'Hara, knows that
this isn't the way that history originally played out. To save the future, he
must revert the past to its original form. Now here's where things get a little
weird. In this altered past, Peter Parker works for Alchemax (as opposed to the
Daily Bugle). He's forced to submit his DNA to the company for...you
know...reasons. In 2099, Miguel uses this DNA to create a chronal device that
allows him to communicate directly with Peter. Think of it as a time
phone...that runs on DNA strands...and can apparently only be used after Peter
submits his DNA – rather than a day or a few years before bad things start
happening. Working together across time, the Spider-Men must reverse the
polarity of the chronal energy to right the events of the past and future.
Chronal energy polarity, eh? This is starting to stink of a Q plot on Star Trek: The Next Generation. SPOILER:
From what I could gather, this polarity shift was accomplished by throwing
Doctor Octopus' mechanical tentacles into a wormhole. Science?
Getting to this point requires time altering events. For instance, if Miguel runs into a dead end, Peter can alter the
past (usually by punching bad guys or breaking devices) to open up a new path in
the future. The way that this is telegraphed to the player is quite cool. While
playing as Peter, a picture-in-picture view of Miguel appears in the lower
right-hand corner of the screen. Once Peter succeeds in his mission, Miguel's
screen expands to full-frame and control is seamlessly handed off to him. This
system removes the boundaries of running through bookended levels and makes the
game seem like one gigantic story-driven adventure.
No matter how much Peter changes in the past, he cannot help
Miguel open locked doors. Given how frequently they are used, Activision should reprint this game's packaging with
the bullet point: "Dozens of locked doors and keys to find!" Most of the
missions feature a locked door or two or three. Some doors even require three
keys to open them. The video game cliché of everything happening in sets of
three is abused to the point of absurdity. In one frustrating boss fight,
Spidey must gather his foe's DNA three times to complete a strand. Science?
Edge of Time's combat mechanic is similar in design to
Beenox's previous Spider-Man title, Shattered Dimensions', but is made hard to
follow through the infusion of time-based powers. Miguel can phase through
time, leaving an imprint of himself that enemies attack. Peter can speed up his
movements to cover ground at a pace similar to Quicksilver's. When these powers
are used frequently, which is a smart tactic, keeping track of Spidey's
location is kind of like playing "Where's Waldo," especially given how many
visual effects are tied to most frays. I mashed the attack buttons, used the
phasing/speed powers whenever I could, and was able to rack up 100- and 200-hit
combos frequently. Truth be told, having an unfair advantage over combat is
kind of empowering, but when the end result is almost always getting a key so
you can move on to the next combat area, there isn't much satisfaction tied to
it. A fairly large list of combat upgrades is offered to individualize player
styles, but none of them really seemed to give me a benefit over the phasing and
The one Spider-Man trait that is rarely touched on is
Spider-Man's web swinging ability. Since this entire game takes place inside of
Alchemax's facility (both in the present and future), most of the environments
are enclosed spaces that make combat intimate and web swinging an afterthought.
Yes, the Spider-Men can still swing through these areas, but it's mostly only
useful to shift quickly from one end of the room to the other. Only a few areas in this game allow
the player to gracefully swing over large expanses and the gameplay tied to these moments is fairly unremarkable.
of this culminates in an experience that doesn't necessarily feel like it was
tailored for Spider-Man. I applaud Beenox for trying something different with
this iconic character, yet ultimately find myself thinking about how many locked doors I
opened rather than the story, combat, or character-based moments. For me, the
game just seemed to get worse as it went on and more frustrating as the same
types of mission objectives were recycled. Shattered Dimensions was good fun (a
game I would have given an 8 to if I had the chance to review it). Edge of Time
is a major step back from the formula that worked.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.