GamesCom 2011 – Spider-Man Edge of time

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The Spider-man video games had been in a state of decline for quite a while already, until Beenox stepped up to the plate and delivered the superb Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions last year. Giving players access to four Spider-Men from four different universe was a treat, and despite a few technical issues with the gameplay, the more linear style of play was a welcome change of pace for the franchise, and made for an exciting game.

I sat down with Activisions Kevin Umbricht to see what the latest Spidey game, Edge of Time, has to offer.

Kevin first gives me a quick summary of the story, of how our main universe Spidey has his timeline altered, resulting in a better lifestyle for Peter Parker, where he is adored and loved by the masses. The downside? He’s going to die at the hands of an unknown assailant, and alter the future for the worse, something that the Spider-Man of the year 2099 has discovered, and so begins a quest through time to restore the timeline to the way it should be.

Picking up the controller, the gameplay feels instantly recognisable to me, as it will for anyone who played last years Spidey game. If you didn’t, imagine a fast and powerful Spiderman, with the main universe version augmenting his attacks with his web shooters, while the 2099 version is faster than Speedy Gonzales on crack.

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I start the demo out with 2099 Spidey, and all his usual attacks and moves are there, and he’s got a new special move as well. As Kevin explains to me, “Spidey 2099 doesn’t have a spider-sense to warn him of danger like Parker does, but he does have accelerated vision. What this does is allow him to slow down his environment to a crawl, and move at breakneck speed”.

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I play this first hand, and what happens essentially is that Spidey 2099 begins moving so fast, that he leaves an after-image of himself that his enemies focus on, allowing for sneak attacks and quick escapes from danger.

The levels are a beautiful mix of future technology and consumerism, and we’re blasting through them, when all of a sudden, we’re caught in a time field storm, that slows everyone down around us, ripping the fabric of the universe up and anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in it.

The only way out is a quick escape off the skyscraper, and its great to see the freefall sections make a comeback. This time, they’re more challenging however, and I’m failing epically, face-planting almost every walkway in the process, so it looks some practice will be necessary for these sections.

We cut back all of a sudden to present day Spidey, and he’s busy running for his life, battle-damaged and wearing a torn costume. “Now you’ll get to see what happens when the past is changed, how it affects the future”, Umbricht tells me. “There’s a new feature, a picture in picture feature that shows you the impact of your actions.”

We’re in a lab and under attack by security forces, but they’re no match for the amazing webslinger, as we fight through them. I flick on Spideys new special move, which allows him to move at super speed as well, but this time, there is no slow-down effect, the games enemies are still moving at normal speed. It takes a while to get used to, but it proves to be an enjoyable add on to the Spider-Man armoury.

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While we’re fighting, we get a sudden message from Spidey 2099, and he’s under attack by crazed lab monsters that were sealed up in containers that are in the same lab as our Spidey. We proceed to smash them and kill the creatures, resulting 2099 Spidey not fighting them.

“You didn’t have to do that if you didn’t want to”, Umbricht says, “But because you did, its going to make things easier for when you swop roles again. You’ll notice when these time dilations happen, that our Spider-Men will face different foes and puzzles due to each others actions, and at one point, they’ll even swop timelines”.

“The contact that they keep with each other through that pyschic link is also going to play a crucial role in the game, but I cant tell you about that right now”, you’ll be surprised at what it can do”.

And there ended my quick look at the Spiderman game, and it was pleasantly more of the same. The two Spider-men feel vibrant and unique, while the combat system is a lot more fluid this time, with many of the camera issues from the last years game having been addressed. The upgradeable combat is also making a return, although this time, Umbricht reassured me that we wont have to replay levels if we want to unlock special moves, with the combat tree offering more general challenges rather.

Its fun, its easy to learn, and it has some deep mechanics at its core, which means that we’ll have another great Spider-Man game this year.

Last Updated: August 23, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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