With its uber-realistic depictions of New York, London, Paris and Berlin under siege, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 stole the show at Activision’s E3 booth this week. But the company was also showing off something to whet the appetites of comic book fans: Spider-Man: Edge of Time, a spiritual follow-up of sorts to last year’s acclaimed Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
The Beenox-developed game, due for a fall release on all major consoles, places players in the dual roles of Peter Parker, the amazing Spider-Man, and a Spider-Man from the future, Miguel O’Hara, a.k.a. Spider-Man 2099. The two Spider-Men must work together across time and space to achieve three goals: 1) Save Parker from an untimely death; 2) Prevent the year 2099 from turning into a dystopian nightmare ruled by the monolithic Alchemax corporation; and 3) Avert a chain of events that could lead to a collapse of the entire space-time continuum.
“To me, it seems like yesterday, that I was working with [artist] Rick Leonardi as he rendered what would be the very first sketch of Spider-Man 2099,” said veteran comics writer (and the new game’s writer) Peter David via email of Spider-Man 2099, the 1992-96 series that he co-created as part of the Marvel 2099 extension series. “And now Miguel O’Hara is reaching audiences both old and new in a video game. How shockin’ cool is that?”
While running through a demonstration of the game at Activision’s Santa Monica offices, associate producer Kevin Umbricht said it’s important to understand that Spider-Man 2099 isn’t a re-imagining of the friendly neighborhood web-slinger we’ve all come to know and love, and therefore creates no continuity problems. “Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 are in the same timeline, so they can exist,” he said, pointing out that Miguel O’Hara turned into Spider Man 2099 when his DNA was infused with Peter Parker’s DNA, which had been stored in Alchemax’s genetic laboratories for decades. “They’re not alternate versions of different Spider-Men, they’re just 100 years apart.”
The game’s narrative features a “chrono-link” that allows the two Spider-Men to communicate with one another, but staying alive in Edge of Time involves navigating through its “cause-and-effect” style of gameplay, in which the actions of the original Spider-Man in the present affect the reality of Spider-Man 2099 in the future, and vice versa. Umbricht showed a portion of the game in which one of Spider-Man’s fan-favorite villains, Eddie Brock, appearing in the game as Anti-Venom (Edge of Time is his gaming debut), causes a massive explosion inside Alchemax’s headquarters in the present. Controlling Spider-Man, the player must not only outrun the advancing explosion, but also remove radioactive tanks from the present in order to prevent a radiation leak that is killing Spider-Man 2099 in the future.
In addition to Spider-Man’s core abilities, which include wall-crawling and web-slinging, Edge of Time is also introducing a new move for Spider-Man called “Hyper Sense,” which allows Spider-Man to tap into his spider sense for a short period of time. While using “Hyper Sense,” Spider-Man can automatically dodge projectiles, get a speed boost or easily get around tricky enemies or difficult obstacles. “It’s a charged move with a cool-down period,” said Umbricht. “So you can’t use it all the time. You have to use it at key moments.”
Umbricht says the game will feature a lot of new characters that haven’t appeared in Marvel’s games before, some from the comics, some created specifically for Edge of Time. “There’s a really deep focus on the comic narrative,” he said. “That’s why we brought Peter [David] in. We’re really telling the story and building the relationship between the two Spideys. At the beginning they don’t trust one another, but as the events of the game unfold, and they save each other’s butts a few times, they strengthen their relationship and begin to start working together as a team.”
And that gets to the heart of the main theme of the game. David says the game deals with predestination versus free will and the concept of self-sacrifice, and there’s one large question at the heart of Edge of Time. “What does it really mean to be Spider-Man?” said David. “It’s more than just putting on a costume with a spider on the front and scurrying up walls.”
— Mike Winder
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