“Spider-Man: Edge of Time” is Activision’s latest game to feature Marvel Comics’ infamous web-slinger as he teams up with the futuristic Spider-Man 2099 in an effort to avoid his own demise while attempting to stop a megalomaniac from creating time-traveling chaos. CBR previewed the game earlier this month at an Activision event in San Francisco, however, we wanted to know more.
To that end, CBR News spoke with with Activision Associate Producer Dennis Bernardo to get the inside scoop on what to expect from Spidey’s latest adventure. We discussed a number of aspects of “Edge of Time,” including the connections between the wall-crawler of today and his futuristic counterpart, what writer Peter David brings to the table, gameplay improvements fans can expect to see in the game and more.
CBR News: A lot of people who play “Spider-Man: Edge of TIme” will, of course, find some similarities with last year’s “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.” But there are some changes this time around, including the decrease in playable Spideys. It’s not easy to pare down the action from four characters to two, we’re betting. Why choose Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099?
Dennis Bernardo: Well, the way we want to think about “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” is as a completely new game, a completely new Spider-Man experience. When Beenox was tasked with taking over the Spider-Man franchise, there were a bunch of different ideas that they wanted to do — “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” was one of them. We wanted to get that started right away, even before “Shattered Dimensions” was finished.
We started this idea of time travel, with this cause-and-effect gameplay that we wanted to do, where you do one thing in one timeline, and it affects the other. We looked at all the different Spider-Men that could fit in this timeline and the story that we wanted to tell, and we found that Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 are really the only two that can fit in the story. Spider-Man 2099 lives in one possible future of the Amazing Spider-Man, so effectively, they’re sort of along the same path, in one timeline that can fit the story.
We started with that idea, and then we brought in the writer, Peter David. He was the creator of Spider-Man 2099, he’s written a bunch of sci-fi novels and worked on a bunch of comic books as well. He really knows the Spider-Man characters, specifically 2099, and also how to do a timeline story and how to make it fit within the Spider-Man universe.
Who is the bad guy that mucks up the whole timeline to begin with?
This scientist from the year 2099 named Walker Sloane, he’s a scientist who works alongside Miguel O’Hara and he’s working on this time travel theory. He devises a way to go back in time to Amazing Spider-Man’s timeline and effectively start his company years before it’s supposed to be created, so that he can run it, create it and build it in his own image. Walker Sloane is an entirely new character that we created specifically for this game — or I should say, Peter David specifically created him for this game. It’s the first Marvel character he’s created in over 15 years, so we’re really excited to have him on board to create Walker for us.
[Sloane’s] the one who goes back in time and changes the timeline for both worlds, one that will lead to the death of Amazing Spider-Man. Along with Spider-Man 2099, you both have to work together to stop it.
There are segments in the game in which you control of one character, and his counterpart appears on the corner of the screen. In one sequence, Amazing Spider-Man is going through this nuclear facility and some gaseous substance is actually affecting Spider-Man 2099 in the same place, requiring Amazing to react quickly in order to save his future-based partner. How did you guys get develop this rather unique system, and how did you get it to work so well?
We wanted to play around with the time aspect and have something in the presentation to have that immediate impact, [giving] feedback to the player [indicating that] once you’re doing one thing, it affects the other. Like you said, Amazing Spider-Man is going through this nuclear facility in his timeline, and, in the future, it’s been busted. It’s been busted by this huge fireball that destroyed all the tanks and is now leaking radioactive gas, which is killing Spider-Man 2099. So you have to play as Amazing Spider-Man in your timeline in order to stay ahead of this fireball and keep these reactors from blowing up. Once you do, as you save each reactor, you see that immediate feedback in the picture-in-picture gameplay where Spider-Man 2099 is regaining his strength and you complete the objective.
How difficult was it to develop the gameplay concept of this dual timeline? Did you work closely with Peter David to make sure that it went along the lines of “Yeah, this would happen?”
It was definitely a collaborative effort between Beenox and Peter David. It was definitely a trial to create these different environments where this type of gameplay would work. You saw what happened in the demo. There are a lot of different moments in the game to enhance that impact between the two Spider-Man characters and progress the story.
The combat and web abilities look similar to what we saw in “Shattered Dimensions,” but there are some changes.
We took the basic idea of combat between the two Spider-Man dimensions, where Amazing Spider-Man is more of a long-range fighter and he likes to use his webs for weapons. He’s also more of an elegant, acrobatic fighter. With Spider-Man 2099, he has claws at the end of his hands, so he likes to use big melee attacks and he likes to slash quickly at his enemies. We took that a little bit further with “Edge of Time,” adding a couple new moves for each character.
There are a couple of new combat moves and some specific new features. For instance, for Amazing Spider-Man, we added this thing called “hyper sense,” where he uses his super agility and his Spider-sense to move faster than humans can see and move faster than the enemies around him. He’s able to evade any incoming attacks, and he can also chain them into his combat moves.
On the other side, Spider-Man 2099 has accelerated vision he uses to sort of perceive things faster than the normal human could see. He can drop an accelerated decoy in the world to fool his enemies into thinking he’s in two places at once. So there’s a lot of gameplay elements that you can play around with, fooling enemies, manipulating objects and mixing with combat. Those are some of the differences between the two characters.
What visual improvements have you made to the gameplay engine since the release of “Shattered Dimensions?”
We definitely upgraded the engine. It’s Beenox’s own game engine, and a bunch of new improvements have been added for “Edge of Time.” A lot of these improvements were born from stuff we wanted to do in “Dimensions,” such as the picture-in-picture effect, improved camera, enhanced art style. We wanted to marry the art styles of the two worlds so that they were more consistent with each other. Now, it’s a much more cleaner look, the character models are higher in quality and so on. It’s definitely a step up, and something we wanted to do from the very beginning with the Spider-Man franchise.
Now, we saw Anti-Venom in the game already, but can we expect other characters from Spidey’s universe to pop up as well?
Yes, there’s gonna be a lot of different bosses, along with a few Marvel cameos in the game. We can’t reveal any more as of yet, but you’ll know more in a couple of months.
Bring Deadpool back!
Some fans may notice a change in Amazing Spider-Man’s voice this time around. Neil Patrick Harris is no longer doing the role, but you’ve got a great actor in his place. Can you tell us more about him as well as the actor who plays 2099?
For Amazing Spider-Man, we have Josh Keaton, and for 2099, we have Christopher Daniel Barnes. Both of these voice actors were used before in “Shattered Dimensions” and they’ve voiced Spider-Man characters in other video games and cartoons, as well. They’re huge Spider-Man fans and really know these characters very well and really bring a great amount of authenticity to them. One of the reasons we picked these two specifically is because of their ability to fit into the storyline and to banter back and forth effectively, as we needed them to for the story. Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 are two completely unique personalities. Amazing is younger, but he’s been a hero a lot longer, where 2099, Miguel O’Hara, is a bit older. So they’re both quite different, and it comes across in the voices and dialogue. You get to explore that a lot in “Edge of Time.”
Finally, we know that the game is a single-player experience, with the gamer alternating between the two characters, but do you think it could’ve worked at all with some kind of co-op factor, with one character controlling Amazing and another handling 2099?
You know, from the off-set, I think we’ve always aimed at a single-player experience and just give players this story that we wanted to tell. We never really factored co-op into the equation because of this cause-and-effect gameplay, as we wanted people to experience both sides of the story.
And it’s due this fall, right?
Yep, on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS and 3DS.
Nice, it’ll be neat to see how well Spider-Man holds up in the 3-D world.
Yes, we’re gonna be the first Spider-Man game on 3DS, so we’re definitely excited to bring that out.