Meet Anti-Venom

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Anti-Venom is a new character in the Marvel Universe who may not be familiar to anyone not “up” on recent Spider-Man comic book lore. However, he plays a major role in Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Beenox and Activision’s follow-up to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.

Although Edge of Time shares a similar time-jumping concept with Shattered Dimensions, it is not a direct sequel. The game spins an original tale written by Peter David, one of the originators of Marvel’s 2099 line. This time, Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara, uncovers a plot by the head of the Alchemax Corporation, Walker Sloan, to kill the Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker. With Peter out of the picture, the timeline would change, making the future more conducive to his schemes.

Anti-Venom, and his relationship to present day Spider-Man, sits at the heart of this plot. In the comics, Eddie Brock (Venom) is diagnosed with cancer and loses the Venom symbiote to Mac Gargan (the Scorpion). Eventually, Brock meets Martin Li, the super-villain Mr. Negative, who uses his powers to cure Brock. The cure gets rid of the cancer, but mutates the remnants of the symbiote in his bloodstream. When the Venom symbiote tries to re-merge with Brock, his symbiote-mutated white blood cells turn him into Anti-Venom.

Anti-Venom retains all of the original Venom’s powers but also has the ability to “cure” Peter Parker of the radioactive spider-blood in his system. This element is key to the plot to kill Peter, and shows up as a major play mechanic when fighting Anti-Venom. When Peter is near Anti-Venom, his Spider-powers fluctuate, randomly leaving him without certain moves or abilities.

O’Hara rushes to the Alchemax building to stop Sloan, but doesn’t make it in time. With Parker dead, the timeline changes. Fortunately, O’Hara is displaced by a time bubble and retains his memories. In order to help fix the timeline, O'Hara finds a way to create a link with Peter and warn him. Not that Peter is interested in what O’Hara has to say. He’s no longer a struggling photographer, but instead a well-paid scientist at Alchemax, so it isn’t like he’s going to go along with O’Hara’s plan.

The time-jumping antics are more than a plot device. Edge of Time is based around a cause-and-effect play mechanic. Anything Peter does in his timeline will alter O’Hara’s reality. For example, if O’Hara runs into a powerful robot in the 2099 timeline, Peter can find the prototype in the past and destroy it, turning the 2099 robot into smaller, easier to fight robots.

The idea is handled via a neat picture-in-picture uplink between the two web-heads. You’ll switch between the two in real-time, with one offering advice to the other about mission goals and objectives. In the demo, O’Hara was trapped in a highly toxic area. In order to free O’Hara, Peter had to web around in the past and shut down the systems that would eventually lead to O’Hara’s predicament. During the segment, you’ll play as Peter and watch O’Hara struggle in the lower right-hand corner. The smaller window offers insight into what is happening in the other time stream, but will also act as a sort of “timer” in some missions.

I should also mention that the two heroes do not get along, leading to all sorts of bickering as the two try to help each other through the fortress-like Alchemax Building. Listening to the chatter between the two was a highlight of the demo. There has, however, been a change-up in voice talent from Shattered Dimensions. Josh Keaton, who voiced Ultimate Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions takes on the role of Amazing Spider-Man while Christopher Daniel Barnes, who voiced Spider-Man Noir, is taking over as Spider-Man 2099.

The dynamic between the two is really cool and lends itself to the type of high-speed gameplay you would expect to see in a Spider-Man game. Amazing Spider-Man is built for speed and uses his webbing even more than he did in Shattered Dimensions. He’s built for ranged combat, but also has a new evade move that lets him zip out of tight spots. By comparison, Spider-Man 2099 is a close-up fighter. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in close-quarters combat moves. He also gets a new move that lets him project holographic decoys while in combat.

I’m not sure what surprised me more, Beenox tagging such an obscure character for a villain, or how much I want to play Edge of Reality. Either way, Spider-Fans have a lot to look forward to later this year.