How appropriate that during our Salute to Spidey event, Activision announces Spider-Man’s next big video game spectacular, Spider-Man: Edge of Time!
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a focused, action-packed adventure set in two connected and evolving timelines, from the contemporary times of the Amazing Spider-Man to the corrupted future world of Spider-Man 2099, against the backdrop of a rich, tightly crafted narrative by acclaimed Marvel veteran Peter David (co-creator of the comic book series Spider-Man 2099). The game features all-new “cause-and-effect” gameplay, where players will see how the immediate and sometimes unexpected effects of their actions as one Spider-Man changes the timeline of the other Spider-Man. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is slated for release this fall.
Read the full press release from Activision here!
Last week on The Comics Console, we kicked off our celebration of Spider-Man games with 1994’s Maximum Carnage, and this week we’re jumping to the new millennium, which gave us not only the greatest Spider-Man game ever released at that time, but the most important Spidey game ever made.
Developers: Neversoft Entertainment
Released: Aug. 20, 2000
Platforms: PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PC
If I had to rank the top 10 best Spider-Man games ever, this game would be at either number 1 or number 2. It would even make it onto my top 10 best comic book video games ever list. For the comic book fan, this game is amazing for many reasons, and even if you’ve never read a Spidey comic before, it’s still awesome, even if dated by 2011 standards.
The game’s story starts off pretty simple. An impostor Spider-Man steals a prototype piece of equipment from Dr. Otto Octavius during a public demonstration, with Peter Parker in attendance. Little does anyone know, the robbery was just part one of Octavius’s sinister plot. The story goes through a few twists and turns, but I’m not going to spoil that for you. It’s definitely not J. Michael Straczynski quality writing, but it’s still very Spider-Man, and gets the job done.
The real attraction here is the gameplay! For the first time, Spider-Man is in 3 dimensions, and the transition from side scrolling beat-em-up to 3D web slinging and wall crawling is a remarkable one. Your first mission puts you in the middle of a bank robbery where you must web swing between buildings and take out thugs to get to the scene of the crime, after a nice introduction from The Man himself, Stan Lee.
Unlike recent Spider-Man games, you are restricted from the city streets, and spend the whole game either in buildings or on rooftops, but that’s just fine for this game, since all anyone really wants to do is web-swing. The web-swinging can feel a little stiff, and it’s a bit difficult to aim Spidey in the direction you want him to land. Often you miss the edge of the rooftop you want to be on, and hit the wall below it and have to climb the rest of the way. This was really annoying during the chasing levels, and the web-swinging mechanic had a lot of evolving to go through over the years, but as a first attempt, it was freakin’ awesome.
The interior levels play like sophisticated platformers with puzzles that have you thinking on your feet, while mixing in just the right amount of enemies to pound so not to feel like a beat-em-up. The structures actually have some depth to them as far as size. Though there isn’t much to go exploring for, each area feels vast and unique. And the designers took careful consideration to create environments that force you to use Spidey’s abilities, which makes you really feel like Spider-Man, and that is the most important key in what makes a great comic book video game.
Combat is very satisfying throughout the game, and rarely boring. Your webbing has many uses from simply tying up enemies to restrain them, to creating an explosive web dome to knockout any nearby henchmen. One really fun treat later in the game is fire webbing, which — you guessed it — allows you to shoot flaming web at enemies to do more damage.
Your missions are all relativity simple, but all challenging in their own way for one reason or another. You’ll do a lot of flipping switches, and destroying enemy regenerators, but it never really feels repetitive. The most frustrating missions are the aforementioned chase scenes, which either have you web-swinging to catch up with Venom or running away from a helicopter trying to shoot you down. Again, this is due to the rough web-swinging mechanic, but it doesn’t kill the whole experience.
The rogues gallery you’ll be up against as Spidey is pretty great. Doc Oc, Scorpion, Rhino, Venom, Lizard, Mysterio, and Carnage all offer different and fun, though easy, boss fights. Along with the villains is an amazing cast of guest appearances by Black Cat, Captain America, Human Torch, Daredevil, and Punisher.
The character designs and settings are pretty blocky and bland as you would expect from a PSOne/N64/Dreamcast game, with the cutscenes being especially rough. There are a variety of enemies to fight throughout the game, like the generic street thug, lizard monster, Carnage symbiote, ect., but each character looks exactly the same as the rest. The lame graphics, however, didn’t really bother me, because the game is so much fun.
The music is really nothing special, and has an annoying tendency to suddenly stop when the action pauses, and the voice acting and dialog is often laughable, though many voice actors from Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Spider-Man Unlimited reprise their roles, which is cool.
Spider-Man already has a solid campaign, and the icing on the cake to it is all the cheats and unlockables to use that make the whole game that much more fun! The unlockable costumes are a Spidey fan’s dream come true. Black Suit Spidey, 2099, Captain Universe, Spidey Unlimited, Amazing Bag-Man, Scarlet Spidey, Peter Parker, Quick Change Spidey, the infamous Spidey Armor, and one very strange costume, the Sub-Mariner (Yes, web-swing through New York as Namor!), are all playable. And to increase your enjoyment with all these different Spider-Men are some fun cheat codes. There are the basics like invincibility, unlimited webbing, master code, things you would expect, then there’s Big Head mode which is just a cute gimmick that’s nice to have.
But the most profound unlockable in this game is “What if?” mode. Any Marvel fan recognizes those two iconic words, and it exists within this game. Though a What If? comic usually brings about extreme change to the Marvel Universe, in Spider-Man there are only minor, but still cool changes. Some colors are different, enemies get switched around, nothing that changes the overall story, but the beginning of “What If?” mode is prefaced by an introduction from the Watcher, which was really fun to see, even if it wasn’t a spectacular sight. I just love how much replayability there is in this game. Although, sadly, “What If?” mode is not included in the N64 version of the game.
The game has its obvious flaws compared to the games of today, but eleven years ago this game was amazing, and it still holds up today as being a really fun game. What makes this game so important is that it was the model which Spider-Man games would build from for years. It captured what it felt like to be Spider-Man, and Activision expanded that further over the last decade. But most of all, the developers came as close as technology would allow to actually putting you in the shoes of Spider-Man, and that’s what a great comic book video game is all about.
Without a doubt, my favorite part of the whole game is actually the final cutscene, which I wont spoil for you, but it’s absolutley silly, and one of my favorite comic book video game moments. See it here.
Next week on The Comics Console , our Salute to Spidey continues when we play Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro!
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