Spider-Man: Edge of Time
3DS | Activision / Beenox | 1 Player | Out Now
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26th June 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Using parts of what made Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions work so well to create an all-new time-bending experience, Edge of Time sees The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 teaming up (and butting heads a little) as they go against a force that threatens the very existence of their parallel timelines. And by teaming up, yes that does mean you'll get to use both characters at different points in the game. No stranger to time travel, Spider-Man is in for the ride of his life. And you? Well, you're just a participant -- a fairly active one at that -- who supposedly has no need for a game to function adequately, just so long as the story remains intact. But perhaps if I bite my tongue long enough, we can save all the explosive details 'till later.
Control-wise, the game doesn't perform badly. The considerations for the different button functions are often sensible and easy to get the hang of. The big things to keep in mind is that, first, the R Button is used for web-slinging your way around environments. Holding it down will issue out a string of web that you can swing on like a rope, while a quick tap of it when there's a nearby landing point will allow you to quickly launch yourself forward to specific walls and platforms with ease. X and Y are your basic attack buttons for engaging in combat with sentry drones, security guards, and other foes using melee and ranged moves.
Each Spider-Man has his own special set of attacks that make him unique, albeit they might not seem that unique if you've played Shattered Dimensions. Nevertheless, I personally enjoyed the melee attacks of 2099 as the combination of his decoy-making abilities as well as strong accelerated attacks makes for some exciting fights during gameplay. On that note, the L Button will produce a special character-specific move that you'll want to make regular use of. I've already stated what this means for 2099, but for Peter Parker, pressing that button will trigger Hyper Sense and allow him to run at a fast speed. One final point to remember is the functionality of the Touch Screen during play, which houses icons that allow you to create Time Paradoxes to slow down enemies caught in a time field, and also use your Spider-Sense to make yourself aware of nearby points of interest.
The game's design is largely combat- and exploration-based, but mixed in with these core elements, you'll also find quick-time events during boss fights as well as interaction points that require you to tap a button on the Touch Screen or press the A Button repeatedly to trigger or get past. As the game is very story-driven and you are taken in a very much linear path, you'll encounter plenty of opportunities where the shoe will fall on the other foot, and what that will mean is using one Spider-Man to help the other in need from a different timeline. This may or may not be set to a physical time restraint, which at times adds some tensity to the abrupt situations you find yourself in. In many of these same situations, the returning Web of Challenges from Shattered Dimensions will give you added reason to plow through at a faster speed or more carefully. As you enter areas where a challenge opportunity presents itself, you'll receive a notification on the Touch Screen indicating such and you can then press Start to accept the optional terms. Also worth noting is the presence of Golden Spiders, which are tied to the game's ability-learning and upgrade system. These can be cashed in for both shared and specific abilities between the two characters that prove useful in the scheme of things.
Regularly relying on attention towards both the two screens to convey a sense of interaction and continuity, players will often see the two dimensions active in tandem. The overall presentation of showing these two characters interacting doesn't work out without a hitch, though. It was probably thought that such an endeavour would be making clever use of the device, but the execution feels incredibly forced and the overall feel of it doesn't even translate that well to the keeping of an overall progression and systematic flow. In fact, it often turns out to be more of a jumpy disruption.
As a general rule, the adventure's design treads lines of predictability throughout in ways that don't induce much curiousity, which also points back to how forced certain other elements of the game feel. There are moments where you may catch yourself grumbling over a temporary setback where the game appears not very cooperative, which can include slippery controls during a freefall session with 2099, wobbling around in a dizzy spell after nearly getting knocked out by a bunch of enemies, or, more simply, just trying to climb into an open ventilation shaft. But this doesn't even begin to describe the amount of troubles players will have to deal with in this game. I'd easily compare them to an annoying fly that never seems to leave you alone, but even this wouldn't cover the breadth of the true situation.
The appalling abundance of technical screw-ups, glitches, and presentation jumbles here impact gameplay so much that it greatly interferes with your play experience. I don't think there's a shorter way of explaining myself as to what I mean, so let's start with the stuff that isn't so terrible when compared with everything else. Some of the graphic portrayals of the melee attacks aren't up to snuff, with a key example being when Spider-Man reaches downwards to extract a piece of rock from the ground and use it in a slamming motion. Also not looking so good are the door and enemy animations (the tentacles, specifically), both of which are not one-time slip-ups but are seen numerous times over the course of the adventure. Whenever you move the Circle Pad in the direction of a scalable surface, Spider-Man will automatically cling to it, allowing you to get to ceilings and pathways inaccessible the normal way. However, there's almost always some sort of problem that arises whenever you want to do just that. Either the controls don't respond right away, the attempted positioning of your movements is awkward, invisible walls prevent you from climbing up a wall or into an opening from any other way but a specific one, as well as bits and pieces of other bigger grievances that I'd like to get into now.
This entire package is beyond glitchy, even to a horrendous degree. But before you even take a moment to digest that, let me also say that this game also suffers from terrible camera issues. So picture both of these elements working together to make your experience as miserable as possible, and you'll already be in a better position to spare yourself of some needless pain. Consider a few examples. There was one very uncomfortable moment where I got stuck while on the ceiling in front of a door I was supposed to go through. I tried to reverse and, through a series of other attempted directional button presses, attempted to somehow go straight. Instead, I made things worse and had 2099 spinning in mid-air and struggling to have a hold on the ceiling and walls around him at all. It was not a pretty sight, I'll tell you that much.
There was also one moment in an open-range battle with multiple enemies where the camera got stuck to the left of my character in close-up formation, and even though you normally have manual camera control in open spaces through the +Control Pad, I was completely unable to track enemies behind or to the sides of me. Under these conditions, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened. The unwelcome camera issues continue in the worst possible ways with it zooming too far into your character, while a lack of reliably functional programming continues to plague much of the inner workings of this title. Between the delayed responses in your attempts to break free from the hold glitches have on you, to things not functioning the way they're designed to, to complete game freezes, you can understand why presentation is such a huge issue. The list goes on, really, with a ton of do-not's and absolutely no room for me to speak in a positive tone. A game like this marked by such a plethora of technical problems shouldn't even be on the market.
It bears repeating that playing Edge of Time makes you feel miserable. My experience with this game was nothing but problem after problem after problem, and although I'm sure I made it farther than most will, it got to a point -- no less after hours of wading through constant frustrations -- where I lost all hope in it and realized it was an utterly out-the-window effort to continue on this way. Nothing, not even Spider-Man's witty remarks, could stop me from shutting the door on this fickle mess. It's extremely unfortunate because although I still had issues even with the gameplay conditions, the action itself is good. But after all that frustration, do you know what the most positive thing is that I can say about this game? The fact that it's still playable. Yeah, not really an incentive, is it? Don't even ask me about possible extras because aside from pointless figures and newspapers you can unlock, nothing else -- even the worthwhile stuff like the Web of Challenges -- matters when the game has such incredibly poor execution.
No doubt your experience with Spider-Man: Edge of Time will be filled with more heavy sighs and groans than anyone should be expected to handle. It's just so very sloppy how this game has turned out, and even though there might be a great game buried deep, deep, deep down underneath all the chaos, it's absolutely not worth the stress. It's impossible to cast the technical issues and everything else aside and still find enjoyment out of this. You just can't. And even if you could somehow manage to do that by the skin of your teeth, there are still elements to the game that don't work well for one reason or another, thus my reasons for uncertainty about this being a great game in disguise. More than just rough around the edges, the 3DS version of Spider-Man: Edge of Time is terribly flawed, not only presenting unwanted discomfort and aggravation, but also digging that knife even deeper by reminding you again and again why you were so foolish to even spend money on it. I don't care if you find this game lying in the trash! Do not under any circumstances pick this up.
09/30 - Simply Awful
Gameplay 5/10 - Technical problems really get in the way, dividing dimensional line only works on paper, aspects of the core design still put under question
Presentation 1/10 - Endless problems you can never seem to avoid, far-reaching technical screw-ups, magnitude has destructive effects on the experience
Enjoyment 0/5 - Constant frustration over recurring situations, overall execution tears apart any chance of having fun, uncomfortable to play
Extra Content 3/5 - Unlockable figures and newspapers, challenges are a positive to the game, nothing really matters in the end since the game is so poor
Equivalent to a score of 30% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System