Unlike the quartet of man-spiders featured in Beenox’s last comicbook venture, Shattered Dimensions, this time the original group has been cut down to a slender two. Spider-Man Noir and Ultimate Spider-Man seem to have disappeared. Also missing is the great Neil Patrick Harris from last year's Shattered, being replaced by voice actor Josh Keaton in the role of the classic Amazing Spider-Man.
This leaves the original Peter Parker and Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man 2099 to run the show. Now our heroes have been dropped in a pulp sci-fi plot authored by veteran comic writer Peter David, and the result is something between “trans-dimensional timewarp saga” and “buddy flick.”
Peter Parker has died – sort of. In the year 2099 a scientist goes back in time to kill our Parker, radically changing the world of Spider-Man 2099. Thanks to the baffling intricacies of space-time physics, Peter Parker also exists in an alternate timeline where he works as an employee for nefarious corporation Alchemax, maintaining a steady job and girlfriend on the side. Now Miguel must warn Peter of his incoming death and convince him to help correct the timelines.
Ah Miguel, it's always something, isn't it? In the short demo shown, when he's not fighting robots he's directing Parker to his next objective like an irritable guide dog. But it's his interaction with Amazing Spider-Man that is the focal point of the game, where banter forms a running commentary that turns a fairly confusing plotline into a simple linear narrative. In turn, it also demonstrates how exactly the present and future connect in this game.
In Edge of Time switching between characters is the solution to your multi-dimensional woes. Billed as the "Cause and Effect" mechanic, everything that happens in the present-day world of the Amazing Spider-Man has a direct effect on the world of 2099.
Using picture-in-picture you can watch Miguel flit about his timeline, which gives an immediate and visual point of comparison between both worlds. In Peter's timeline one room of the Alchemax corporate building will be dedicated to the development of a giant bot. But in 2099 that bot has been fully constructed and is in the process of taking down Miguel. The solution then is to destroy the unfinished machine in the present and watch as it begins to slowly vanish from existence.
Other levels are built with a specific Spider-Man in mind. As with Shattered Dimensions, both characters have individual combat styles and have particular purposes in the game. Amazing Spider-Man has more acrobatic tendencies than 2099 and generally sticks to ranged attacks with his web as his primary weapon. Comparatively, 2099 has habits more in line with standard melee fighters, thanks to his arm-spikes and ability to spawn holograms to confuse enemies.
Even beyond the standard swinging and jumping spider-isms, Miguel has developed the ability to control his speed during a free fall thanks to a suit that looks like it's been partially designed with BASE jumping in mind. In a level we were shown briefly 2099 took part in a Point Break-style freefall down a shaft while avoiding inconveniently placed walls - a welcome addition to the traditional web-slinging.
Edge of Time's combination of cross-time communication and history changing has the potential to offer some interesting puzzles for both characters. But like Shattered Dimensions this is a linear game that isn't about to wander beyond its pre-scripted narrative. Despite being about the malleable future, Edge of Time's world likely won't be as flexible as it seems, but it will be interesting to see whether that actually affects the game as a whole.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360 in the Autumn.