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Review

Spider-Man: Edge of Time (Wii) Review

by December 29, 2011

A cynical gamer could be forgiven for regarding a new, licensed ‘superhero game,’ published by one of the industry’s giants, as nothing more than a waste of time. However, it has been shown in recent years that some of the most positive accolades have gone to the costumed vigilantes for not only being an example for other superhero games to aspire to, but for exceeding the expectations of gamers and comic book devotees alike. It is with this mindset that I head into Spider-Man: Edge of Time with positive, but tempered, expectations. Edge of Time is a competent beat-em-up starring the famous webhead, but with a twist; the player is given control of both the Amazing Spider-Man (present) and Spider-Man 2099 (future). This lends the game the opportunity to do something creatively, both from a narrative and gameplay point of view. Read on to find out whether the webhead can deliver on either count.

Edge of Time starts off with a climactic encounter between Amazing Spider-Man and Anti-Venom, assumedly a corrupted version of Venom – a recurring arch-enemy of Spider-Man. It is up to Spider-Man 2099 to intervene and attempt to save Amazing’s life. We see 2099 fail to get there in time, but afterwards we are given a lead-up to the battle and the opportunity to alter the events. Amazing and 2099 form a tenuous alliance, connected telepathically and able to influence each others’ relevant space and time. It’s all very timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly, but it’s a fairly solid premise and sets up the story and progression elements. What we see isn’t terrible, but it isn’t fantastic either.


Not a Wii shot obviously, Activision didn’t put any out.

Combat is handled through use of the D-Pad and most of the other buttons. A controls jumping, while B is for web-slinging. The D-Pad is used for attacking, in lieu of a diamond-button configuration. Light and heavy attacks work as expected, and a web shot incapacitates targets. Aerial attacks offer good mix up strategies against more resilient opponents, and the dodge function (C button) is standard fare. While the combat is competent, and works well, it grows stale after 2 or 3 hours beating up countless enemies. Waves of fresh enemies spawn quickly, and cannot be attacked while they perform their animation sequence on appearing. Every enemy also seems to take a lot of hits to dispatch, when can become very tiring. Early on in the game, you are subjected to enemies which can fire stun shots, which will cause Spider-Man to stagger around uselessly for 5 seconds or so. It’s jarring and annoying to put up with when it hits. The whole affair is a very ‘rinse, repeat’ one, and you don’t get anything to spice up combat throughout the game. Where a lot of other brawlers might drop in new weapons to whet the appetite of the player with new animations and increased damage, Edge of Time simply offers an upgrade system which unlocks new moves at a snail’s pace. These moves don’t give the player any particular advantage, and are unlocked by collecting small orbs throughout the levels; a chore at best. Regardless of the repetition and lack of originality, the combat system is serviceable at the very least.

Combat is mainly forced through locked doors and the need to acquire keys to progress. Much of the time, the game will ask the player to acquire a set of keys – usually three – in order to unlock a thrice-locked door. This is a running theme throughout the game. It is compounded by the fact that the game near constantly has you in service of the other Spider-Man. This is usually something as simple as reaching a certain place for a cutscene to trigger, activating a computer terminal, or perhaps destroying an object or blockage in the game world. And the cherry to top this cake? Timers. The game will present a timer on-screen when the player is required to perform these tasks. When this timer reaches zero, the player is rewarded with a cinematic showing the death of the other Spider-Man. This game over screen has become far too familiar for me, with a range of obscure objectives not entirely explained by the game resulting in a number of failures. When a game is merely acceptable due to an average combat system, woe to be the developer who forces unnecessary timers and obscure objectives to make it worse.


Not a Wii shot obviously, Activision didn’t put any out.

Gameplay inserted between combat rooms is cruelly bland. Often the player is required to crawl through ducts. This is accomplished by pushing the control stick in any direction. As soon as you get into the duct, pushing up, back, left or right will send you forward at the same pace. It’s a strange design choice and a testament to the overall design of the game; linear. A straight path from start to finish, with the tiny branching sections only housing keys to move forward, or the odd collectible. Simply fight enemies, unlock doors, receive your next objective, fight enemies on the way there, unlock the doors and complete the objective (sometimes with a timer). Rinse and repeat, ad nauseam. Furthermore, the player is often required to shake the Wiimote vigorously in order to pull or push an object and to open doors. When a door is not locked in a room full of enemies, where you would need a key, then the door will have a mechanism which needs to be pulled off. The animation required to pull off the lock can be interrupted by enemy projectiles, so you need to destroy them all to progress, as with a key-locked door. What is the point of two different locks if you have to kill all the enemies to unlock them anyway? This isn’t variation in design; it’s just another way to impede the player. At least with keys, I don’t have to tire out my arm waggling a bloody controller. I had hoped developers had moved past this caveat of the Wiimote back in 2008. I was sadly mistaken.

I suppose it is unfair to lavish the game with too much criticism, which would be unfair as the game isn’t that bad at all. The story is an original one, stemming from the emergence of a dastardly biochemical corporation and the effect/causality timelines created when things go haywire in the past and future. It’s your standard time-travel story, and works well for fans of comic book tales. The plot has its share of twists and turns, but the “Spider-Man, rescue the other Spider-Man before he dies!” theme is very tired by the end of the game. Suffice it to say, there is no shortage of ways for either hero to die in a grisly manner (and no shortage of timers to hurry you up). I just find the storyline to be a welcome change from the typical ride we are accustomed to in the genre.

However, this positive aspect is again dulled by other presentation issues. Camera control is a wonky, unpredictable affair. Often it zooms in too far to allow the player to see. This is especially noticeable when one attempts to crawl across walls, often necessary. Sometimes the camera fails to rotate around to show you where to go; I was left attempting to crawl towards the screen on several occasions, watching a giant translucent Spider-Man polygon floundering about onscreen. Adding to the camera issues is a number of prevalent glitches; some game-breaking. In one of many free-fall sections (simply avoid the solid objects until you reach the ground), 2099 become ‘stuck’ in mid-air. He appeared to be falling, but simply levitated a few metres off the ground where I was meant to impact. I could move around marginally, but 2099 was just stuck there otherwise. I restarted the console and tried the sequence again, and found that a cutscene was supposed to trigger at the point that the game broke. Another notable glitch occurred when I was crawling through an air duct. Suddenly, 2099 flipped out and got stuck in the duct walls. Unable to move, I could only hold a direction on the control stick while the camera panned wildly and 2009’s limbs bent in a truly frightening fashion. It was like something out of a schlocky horror movie. Some other minor bugs plague the experience, and drop the immersion level as expected. Another gripe is the bland graphics.

Although nothing damning could be said about them, there are no standout compliments to be made. The art direction is unoriginal, the models for the Spider-Men and enemies alike are low-poly and low-res, and environments are blocky and uninspired. Sometimes flashing textures will appear and are very distracting. A few times, Spider-Man falls through the ceiling but doesn’t make a hole; as well the debris appears in chunks, then fades away for no particular reason. After the many artistic triumphs the Wii has experienced over the years, I didn’t think it was too much to expect a more motivated graphical direction. Unfortunately, completely appreciating the Wii’s game library means accepting PS2-quality graphics in many cases.


Not a Wii shot obviously, Activision didn’t put any out.

It is with a particular sadness that I proclaim Edge of Time to simply be standard fare; no more, no less. With a story that involves multiple timelines and intriguing characters (although it gets bogged down in a battle of egos between the two Spider-Men) and a decent combat system, albeit somewhat repetitive, I was hoping to score this game towards the more acceptable spectrum of the scoring scale. However, camera issues, glitches, weak graphics and gameplay that feels like filler most of the time has done much to scale back my appreciation for the game and afford it a harsher perspective. If you have a younger sibling or child in mind when buying this game, it might be worth of for the sheer satisfaction they’ll get beating up hordes of mindless enemies and getting some of that webslinging action. Be prepared to help solve some of the more frustrating, timed challenges for them though. However, if it is yourself that you are buying for, beware of the issues and repetitive nature involved. It’s an average beat-em-up, and that’s it. Mark this one for fans only.

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About The Author
Ben Robinson
Based in the South West of WA. I enjoy most genres and platforms of games, but my favourites are platformers and the Super NES, respectively. I also indulge in reading of DC/Marvel comics and fantasy literature, as well as PC building. I work as an accountant but manage to be an interesting person as well!

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