Lasting First Impressions of Spider-Man: Edge of Time from Activision
For several months now, I have been following the news about Activision’s latest in their annual Spider-Man release with keen interest. I was most intrigued by the fact that it was written by the great Peter David, one of my all-time favourite authors (my favourite still being his Star Trek: TNG novel, Imzadi). The great voice cast behind the game, such as Val Kilmer, Laura Vandervoort, and Katee Sackhoff was also something of a bonus and with that I was excited and eager to get my hands on the game. Spider-Man: Edge of Time takes a unique twist on Spider-Man games and introduces two very distinct Spider-Men, The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara, appearing for the first time in a video game. Two very distant heroes brought together, literally, through time when Miguel O’Hara witnesses the death of Peter Parker at the hands of Anti-Venom and must attempt to stop this distortion of the timeline.
So it was during this year’s annual Extra Life marathon that I had the opportunity to pop in the game and give it a run through. The game starts out with a bang and you are thrown right into the game head first. I actually thought the opening credits were quite brilliant as they play along the screen during the initial game play and story setup. You are taught how each of the two distinct Spider-Men’s powers work as you need to use them for the first time so there is no need to be overwhelmed with all the different controls all up front. This helps ease the player into the game in a fun and natural way.
The storyline is an intriguing and completely immersive one that takes the player smoothly from playing Spider-Man 2099 to Amazing Spider-Man with ease. In my time playing the game there were no distinct pauses in the game play as it just kept running forward, full steam ahead. The game is full of banter between the two Spider-Men which definitely keeps things interesting and certainly makes it feel like a true Spider-Man game. After playing for a while, however, I felt like I was just doing the same thing over and over again. While there are definitely some variations in the gameplay, from combat, to wall-crawling, and even free falling, it all just seemed endless. I honestly felt like I was going nowhere or I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I simply moved along in the game doing whatever it presented to me without rhyme or reason. In one particular level, for example, Spider-Man 2099 is diving through a (very) long shaft and the player must steer him around the obstacles. Okay, sounds fun and it was at first. Then it just kept going. And going. And going. I was honestly annoyed with how long this went on for; it just felt excessive. At times the controls also seems to get away from me as I would try to web swing from one place to another but it just wouldn’t happen and I’d fall back to the bottom of a multi-tiered level.
The game itself looks great; the models all move fluidly and realistically and it is a beautiful Spider-Man game. The developers at Beenox certainly did a spectacular job with this title while the voice acting is equally superb and truly immerse the player into the storyline. Peter David’s writing is solid, consistent and full of great one liners, just like Spider-Man himself. Even the difficulty level of the game felt really good; it wasn’t too basic and it wasn’t overly arduous which seems to be rare these days. I just felt, after the first hour of playing the game (I actually played just over 90 minutes), that the game was getting very repetitive and seemed to go on forever without anything substantial actually happening in the storyline. After that initial hour, while there were things about the game I enjoyed and thought were unique, it just didn’t give me enough to bring me back for a second play.
Activision, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.