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Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
One of the "Amazing" things about Spider-Man is his ability to move extremely quickly when he needs to. When he's in above his head and his back's against the wall, he somehow manages to pull out all the stops and unleash an amazing flurry of attacks that are so fast that they're depicted in the comic books with multiple instances of Spider-Man in the same panel. While this effect is only used from time to time in the comic books, it has a very nice effect. Then again, I always find that I will stare at those specific panels for longer than normal, as I mentally translate the single image into an animated sequence of rapid-fire attacks. This same effect is attempted in Spider-Man: Edge of Time, but between the multiple images of Spider-Man and the visual effects of Spidey's attacks and his enemies' attacks, the visuals can get a bit confusing at times.

The environment, itself, is primarily the Alchemax building originally from Spider-Man 2099, but thanks to Sloan's meddling, also exists in the timeline of Amazing Spider-Man, as well. There were, however, a few glitches that should have been caught and fixed before the game was shipped. More on these in Game Mechanics.

The sound and voice-work are nicely done, with the usual amount of expected Spidey quips. The voices of our Spider-Men in Edge of Time are provided by a couple of voice actors from Shattered Dimensions, but with a twist; the Amazing Spider-Man is voiced by Josh Keaton (who voiced Ultimate Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions), while Spider-Man 2099 is voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes (who voiced Spider-Man Noir in Shattered Dimensions). There are several other noteworthy voices: Val Kilmer voices Dr. Walker Sloan, Laura Vandervoort voices Mary Jane Watson, and Black Cat 2099 is voiced by Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). A couple of popular cartoon voices also provide their talents: Steve Blum voices Anti-Venom and Fred Tatasciore voices both Atrocity and J. Jonah Jameson.

Following in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions's footsteps in the attempt to give Spidey-lovin' console gamers more web heads for the buck, Spider-Man: Edge of Time features more than one Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?), with Spider-Man 2099 seeking the assistance of Amazing Spider-Man in fighting to stop Walker Sloan from tampering with the past. Rather than the four versions of Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions, the storyline only features these two versions of Spider-Man. There are, however, several different costumes you can unlock, so you can change your appearance, once you earn them, but your abilities will either be that of Amazing or 2099, depending on which character you're supposed to be playing as at the time.

Both characters have their share of fighting and navigating obstacle courses - sometimes with a time limit. Additionally, however, those who played Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions will be familiar with the free-fall-in-a-shaft-trying-to-kill-you gameplay that Spider-Man 2099 had in some of the levels as he works his way down the center of a large tower. Well, they're back, and while that's not my favorite type of gameplay, it didn't seem to be quite as bad this time around. Maybe my skills are just improving. ...Nah - that couldn't be it...

Once you've worked through levels, you will be able to access the different challenges directly from the Web of Challenges. This makes these challenges very easy to access, and some of them play much like mini-games, so you can just pop in and replay your favorites, if you like. In fact, you may want to visit these challenges and use them to earn points toward upgrades.

There are different types of gamers. Some gamers seek to beat a game as quickly as possible; some find their pace through the game's natural pacing; while some gamers we affectionately call "completist bastards" will take a long time, searching every nook and cranny for hidden bonus items and replaying individual portions to get the best score they can and to earn every achievement.

Spider-Man: Edge of Time is truly geared toward completist bastards... although it may seem quite the contrary at first. There are lots of opportunities during large fights to simply beat a few "key" opponents to gain access to a door and then simply leave a horde of enemies behind and progress forward. If you do this, however, you won't collect much of the blue spider essence. And you're also unlikely to find the golden spiders that are crawling around in odd places. Both of these collectible items, however, can be used to buy new abilities and to improve your character's attributes. If you rush through the game too quickly, and don't "level up" your character, you're likely to find the game frustratingly difficult later on.

Even gamers who follow the game's pacing are likely to fall into this trap; most of the game's storyline feels hurried, with the other Spider-Man goading you to hurry to change things to help them through "quantum causality." Mind you, while some of the events are timed events, a good deal of the levels can be played at your leisure, despite this harried dialogue. Determining what is time sensitive and what isn't really is a bit trial and error, but picking up bonus currencies and upgrading your characters can help reduce the difficulty.

Game Mechanics:
I wish the quality control had been tighter in Spider-Man: Edge of Time. There were places where I experienced some clipping, accidentally seeing through solid objects when I got too close. That's not a huge deal; you see that sort of thing in games from time to time. However, at one place, I actually managed to accidentally slip through the wall into the nothingness below it. When that happened, I got to see Amazing Spider-Man fall through black nothingness for... well, long enough that I didn't think there was a bottom to hit, so I paused the game and restarted from my last save point. I play a lot of games, and had I a little better memory, I could count the times that that happened to me on two hands... possibly one. Not cool.

In addition to the glitches, there were a few fights that had so much action and special effects going on at the same time that it was difficult to keep track of what, exactly, was going on. Black Cat's doppelgangers didn't help matters much when I went up against her; with all that jumping around (both them and me), it made for a long, drawn-out fight with several times that I simply swung out of there, unsure of who was whom. Other rooms where twenty enemies were attacking me at once made for some additional confusion. Consider the strange visual effects from time-bending abilities with the multiple enemies firing beam weapons or guns at me, and the screen became a confusing blur, where Spider-Man was everywhere... making it kinda difficult to determine which way to tell him to go for the next attack.

Glitches and sheer visual bombardment aside, I enjoyed playing Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Completists would probably enjoy it more, though, as they'll be able to afford more upgrades earlier on. I would say that Edge of Time wasn't up to Shattered Dimensions' level of quality... Plus, you're getting half the number of Spider-Folk. If you find yourself unsure about this one, I'd suggest a rental first. If you're a completist who likes mini-games and simply have to have everything Spidey, go ahead and pick it up. 'Nuff said.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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