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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Better as an actual animated film
on October 9, 2011
I think alot of us loved last year's SHATTERED DIMENSIONS. Yes, it wasn't an open-world game and the story was pretty silly, but the presentation was top-notch and the variety of the levels made it truly fun. I'm certain that Activison and Beenox identified the two main themes in terms of criticism for SHATTERED DIMENSIONS: the story was weak and most gamers loved Spider-Man 2099 the most. As a character, because of his cool look and futuristic world, he almost works better as a video game character than he ever did as a comic book character. So now we have EDGE OF TIME, which gives us a really great story and 2099 as basically the lead character.
Man, they really overreacted.
The entire game takes place in an office building. Yes, this is a Spider-Man video game in which you never, EVER even see the skyscrapers of New York City. The entire game is really short, about eight hours, and because there are no changes in environment and enemies, you go from the four distinct gameplay styles of SHATTERED DIMENSIONS to what is basically one style here. Amazing and 2099 pretty much play exactly the same in this game because their surroundings are the same, and that's really a shame. The game chooses to not have menus between levels, as you go right from one level to the next seamlessly, which does add a cinematic feel but also highlights the sameness in the levels even more. Each chapter is indistinguishable. The entire game really feels like one huge eight hour level. In fact, I was on Chapter 5 before I realized that I wasn't on the first level anymore! I just figured the environment was going to eventually change. The upgrades seem to have been lessened from the last game as well, and combat just doesn't feel as fun as it did in SHATTERED DIMENSIONS. You don't need to dumb-down what was already a button-masher. What an odd development choice.
You could argue that the difficulty levels and challenges lengthen the replay value, but I, for one, had my fill of the same labs and atriums the first playthrough and have minimal desire to return to them anytime soon.
There are three boss battles in the entire game, and they are very boring. Again, another curious decision by the developers because what made SHATTERED DIMENSIONS so great was that each level was basically a HUGE boss battle, where you fought the boss several different times in different ways. You even got to punch them in first-person.
So, what happened? Well, they got Spider-Man 2099 creator Peter David to write the story, and it's a great one, with a honest-to-goodness twist you actually won't see coming. The game is completely built around the story, and presented in a cinematic style. The production value is through the roof in this game, and the entire opening sequence is one of the BEST I have EVER seen in video games.
But, again, it's VIDEO GAME, not a movie. By sacrificing so much to tell the story, the developers forgot what makes a game great, and it's not the cutscenes, even ones as great-looking and fantastically-acted as the ones in this game.
I'm not a video game troll and find it juvenile and simplistic to just say things like "Activision is evil" or what have you, but I will say that we don't need a new Spider-Man game every single year. This franchise is not, and shouldn't be, Call of Duty. They won alot of goodwill for SHATTERED DIMENSIONS and, I fear, lost alot of it with EDGE OF TIME.
I'd like to take the rest of this review in a little, more personal direction, so apologies for the length. I loved SHATTERED DIMENSIONS alot, probably more than the average person because I love the webhead dearly, and so I actually pre-ordered this game and paid the full $60 for it. I got only more excited when I watched those behind-the-scenes interviews with the voice cast for this game, probably the most effective marketing they did. Those videos were ALMOST false advertising. For example, Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes talked about how what you do in one timeline will affect the other timeline, but they made it sound like this was player-controlled. In reality, it is not, as the game's story pre-determines each instance the timeline (read: the level you're currently playing) changes. Laura Vandervort, whom I LOVE from INSTANT STAR and SMALLVILLE, voices Mary Jane, but she's only in the game for about five minutes total, and half the time she's just screaming. Those promotional videos sort of suggested we'd be experiencing this actress' performance as an iconic character for more than just a cameo. Ditto for Katee Sackhoff as Black Cat 2099, who is FANTASTIC, in a performance I would have loved to heard more of. Finally, this game has an embarrassment of voice acting riches, as VAL FREAKIN' KILMER is also not really in the game that much. This is a video game that has three legitimate film actors and didn't utilize their talents nearly enough.
One last thing about the voice acting. Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes are great Spider-Men. Depending on who you ask, one of these two gentlemen ARE Spider-Man. They do a fantastic job and have GREAT chemistry here. In fact, the best part about the game is actually their dialogue, as through comic book/video game magic they can talk to each other even though they're in different time periods, so often one of them will pop up in the corner of the screen to advise/trash talk the other one.
However, as a long-time Spider-Man fan, I was absolutely offended by the characterization of these two heroes. First of all, they spend the entire game aggressively sniping at each other, like they actually hate each other, and show very little of the class and playful nature that a real Spider-Man would. Secondly, and most egregiously, Spider-Man 2099 is cast in the lead and Amazing Spider-Man, as in, the ACTUAL Peter Parker, is cast as the selfish, wisecracking fool who doesn't know anything. Miguel is constantly explaining time travel and other comic book science topics to Peter, who acts like an idiot and even sports an unmasked character design that makes him look like a jocky douchebag. Guys, Peter Parker is ALSO a scientist, a damn good one. Some of the best Spider-Man stories deal with Peter's humanity and vulnerability, and his weakness in the face of having to do the right thing, which this story also addresses not just in his possible death but also as revealed in the big plot twist, but in no way should Spider-Man 2099 have been presented as smarter and more capable than Peter. It's ridiculous.
Still with me? If you're a Spider-Man fan, buy it and treat it like an interactive should-have-been animated film. Otherwise, rent it, and pray they take a little longer to make the next game.