The creators may not be calling it a sequel, but fans of "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" will no doubt want to get in line when "Spider-Man: Edge of Time" hits stores this fall. Marvel and Activision announced the game last Thursday and hosted a panel at WonderCon to share details with fans and a debut a new trailer.
For the uninitiated, "Shattered Dimensions" brought together four different versions of Spider-Man -- Amazing, Ultimate, 2099 and Noir -- who worked together to battle Mysterio. "Edge of Time" involves two of those characters once again, Amazing Spider-Man aka Peter Parker, and Spider-Man 2099 aka Miguel O'Hara, as they work together across time to prevent an evil scientist from 2099 from killing Parker. While "Shattered Dimensions" was written by "Amazing Spider-Man" writer Dan Slott, Spider-Man 2099 co-creator Peter David handled scripting duties for "Edge of Time."
The new game reunites two of the voices from that first game, although as different versions of Spider-man this time around. Josh Keaton, who voiced Ultimate Spider-Man in the previous game, will voice Amazing Spider-Man. And, as announced at the panel, Christopher Barnes, who previously voiced Noir Spider-Man, will voice Spider-Man 2099 in "Edge of Time."
Dan Amrich of Activision, who blogs regularly for the company, hosted the panel and asked Keaton about his approach to portraying different versions of Spider-Man, both in the two games and in animated adaptations like "Spectacular Spider-Man."
"Normally the way I approach it is, there's certain core truths and elements to my portrayal of Peter Parker that I like to keep consistent, his motivations and what not," Keaton said. "The thing that usually changes is his age, so I'll pitch him up or pitch him down depending on how old he has to be."
Amrich asked both David and Keaton if they had finished the first game. Keaton said that he was a serious gamer and had finished it, though he still had a few achievements to unlock. "I always play through on the most difficult setting right off the bat because that's how I roll," he said. He called the infamous Deadpool level "one of the most panic-inducing game experiences I've had in a while."
David, who was dressed as the Green Hornet, said he had only recently started playing the game and was "somewhat getting the hang of it." He said he enjoyed playing as Spider-Man 2099, as well as Noir Spider-Man, who sneaks up on villains and takes them out from behind. "If I was a superhero, that's actually what I would probably do."
As packed as "Shattered Dimensions" was with ideas, challenges and various settings, Dee Brown of Beenox, the game's developer, said they still weren't able to get every idea they had into the game -- he said they had a "crazy idea" they wanted to do to tie together the worlds of Amazing and 2099 that didn't fit into the game, but it inspired the creation of "Edge of Time." In fact, he said they started working on "Edge of Time" before "Shattered Dimensions" even shipped, and once it did, they started looking at feedback from gamers and potential improvements for the combat system.
Beenox's Gerard Lehiany said one of the new additions to the game they could talk about was what they called a "cause and effect" system. When playing as Amazing Spider-Man, the player's actions can affect the 2099 timeline, and using what he called "picture in picture," players will see how their actions in the past change what's happening in the future. For instance, a giant robot attacking Spider-Man 2099 could disappear when Amazing Spider-Man destroys the factory where it was made in the past.
"Sometimes things disappear, but sometimes they're just replaced by other things," Lehiany said.
Lehiany credited David with helping them ensure the integrity of the story, especially the time travel aspects.
"It was tremendously exciting working with Beenox," David said, noting that typically he works in solitude when he writes, but for this project he traveled to Quebec City and worked with the team for a week.
"We came up with various concepts and conceits and worked out how this was all going to interact. And at least once a day, we went, 'Waitaminute, but then that happens and causes this paradox,' and we had to rethink everything to make sure it had a consistent flow and all absolutely makes sense. We hope," David said. David, of course, is no stranger to time travel stories, being the writer of "Hulk: Future Imperfect" and various "X-Factor" stories, among many others, that jump around through time.
"Whenever you get a pitch that involves time travel, your kneejerk response is that it's pretty risky," said TQ Jefferson, the vice president of production, games for Marvel Entertainment. "But Peter's a master storyteller, so once he was on board, we had every confidence that he would just nail it right out of the park."
Jefferson noted the usual Spider-Man story happens on a smaller level, such as Spider-Man dealing with something personal or saving New York City. "This is much, much bigger. This is whole timelines being destroyed," he said.
Amrich asked David if he approached how he wrote O'Hara differently than when he originally created him.
"Absolutely not," David said. "It's not like he's a character who I wrote for a couple of issues and then I have to go back and re-read what I did with him in order to remind myself. Miguel is someone who I created pretty much stem to stern right at the beginning, so a lot of his personality is still as fresh to me now as he was when I came up with him 20 years ago."
He added that he was excited to have Parker and O'Hara interact, because when he created the character he tried to make O'Hara the opposite of Parker. "The differences between the two characters are brought into sharper relief," David said.
For fans worried that the game might have some inconsistencies with established Marvel continuity, or who are worried that the creators don't realize Spider-Man 2099's future is actually a separate reality from the regular Marvel 616 one where Amazing Spider-Man lives, David said not to worry.
"For the benefit of the hardcore Marvel fan … it's always been established in Marvel continuity that if you change something at one point, it doesn't affect the future, it just creates another timeline. Without going into any detail, all I'll say is 'Don't worry. We know; we've got it covered.'"