"Spider-Man: Edge of Time" is not your typical Spider-Man video game effort. Rather than fighting with the usual gallery of criminals around New York City, you're instead thrown into a heinous plot involving time travel. A greedy entrepreneur by the name of Walker Sloan has devised a way to go back in time and create Oscorp's success in his own image. However, in doing so, he's essentially doomed the fate of the Amazing Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2099 sees this from the future and works with Peter Parker across two dimensions to keep this from happening.
We had the chance to play as both the Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099, seeing what they both bring to the table. Both are very versatile when it comes to combat, chaining together attacks that make use of their abilities. Amazing, for instance, can use his webbing to create projectiles, such as hammers that slam an opponent to the ground or grabbing utensils to swing them across the room. There's a lot to learn with him, though you'll need to learn fast, since both small and large enemies constantly surround him.
Meanwhile, 2099 has his own combos, thanks to Miguel O'Hara's swiftly made battle suit. He can swing around and knock out enemies just as hard as Spider-Man can and grab them up close to dish out some real damage. He can also accelerate his speed, which in turn makes him harder to hit -- and also throws off some enemies, who can't see what's coming. (Amazing Spider-Man is equally balanced out with his powerful Spider Sense.)
"Spider-Man: Edge of Time" also makes use of some interesting aerial stages, similar to some of the ones we dealt with in Shattered Dimensions," last year's Spider-Man game. During one particular stage, we found ourselves falling through several floors in a defensive tower with 2099, having to maneuver through tight spaces in order to avoid harm. As you descend, you'll actually see a marker on the walls, indicating his position. That way, you have a few precious seconds to move into the necessary area to continue your free-fall. Hit the wall in any way, and you'll lose a slight amount of health.
Likewise, Amazing Spider-Man will use his swinging ability to get through some areas of the facility, though we didn't see too much of this in the demo. However, you'll be surprised at how well the web-slinging works, and be zip lining and connecting webs in no time at all.
What we really liked, though, was the connectivity between the two heroes. As you proceed through some parts of the stage, your main character (either 2099 or Amazing) will be in the main screen, while the other communicates through a picture-in-picture display. There will be times when one is in peril (and openly expressing said peril) while the other, the hero you control, has to work through the situation in order to save their life.
In one level 2099 finds himself overwhelmed with some kind of monsters in the future -- the same ones that Amazing goes face-to-face with in the present. Some are in processing chambers, just waiting to be hatched. Amazing has to fight off the ones that have gotten free in the future while using his webbing to pull down the chambers and smash others from being made. By doing this, 2099 finds himself freed of more and more of these fiends, guaranteeing his survival. It's a system that Beenox and writer Peter David have put a lot of time and effort into developing and it's quite remarkable, really.
"Edge of Time" also shows improvements over last year's "Shattered Dimensions" when it comes to visuals. The futuristic world that 2099 flies through is stunning, particularly when you're swinging across the city or flying through the air at top speed. There were times that the game looked as if it needed more polish, but this is just a rough floor demo, and not really representative of how the final game will look, according to the rep. Still, it looked great, and the modern-day Amazing Spider-Man stages weren't half bad either, even when the room loaded up with enemies. It's easy to get around and see which points he can web-zip to, thanks to yellow indicator arrows that pop up on the screen.
Likewise, the voicework is great. We didn't hear too much of Val Kilmer, who voices Sloan, but we did hear the interaction between Amazing Spider-Man, voiced by Josh Keaton (handily taking over for Neil Patrick Harris) and the returning Christopher Daniel Barnes as 2099. Their wordplay is rock solid as they express what's going on with their situation, while not missing a beat when it comes to quick-witted quips.
Fans of "Shattered Dimensions" should absolutely love "Edge of Time" when it hits stores this October for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. Its gameplay is just as entertaining as "Shattered Dimensions", but with much better pacing and a storyline that comic book fans will certainly get into -- especially when it comes to situations that require you to save someone in a different dimension. Activision could be onto a wonderful original property here, one that could definitely open the door for a sequel or two. Bring 'em on.