Review – Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions

Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions
Developer: Beenox
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action Adventure, Platformer, Stealth
Release Date: Out Now

What is this? A Spider-man game without a movie tie-in? That’s right! Despite the amount of press coverage this game has, there is no movie to go along with it. Shattered Dimensions is a completely new title, fresh out the factory. Spidey hasn’t had the best success in the world of video games as of late, but this may possibly be coming to a halt. Hit the jump for the full review on Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions!

Every Superhero needs a story to work with, and Spider-man has one. Narrated by our very own Stan Lee, we see our masked hero dealing with an earth shattering (pardon the pun) dilemma. During a fight with Mysterio, the Tablet of Order and Chaos is smashed into pieces, scattered across several dimensions, hence the subtitle of the game. Spider-man is called to assist by Madame Web, who also recruits the help of the other Spider-men. Each Spider-man must reclaim the fragments of the tablet in their dimensions, and restore peace to the worlds. Many dangerous villains have their hands on the fragments, it’s going to be one dangerous mission.

The main appeal of Shattered Dimensions is of course the ability to play as four different versions of Spider-man. We have The Amazing Spider-man, who most of you will be familiar with. Ultimate Spider-man, the alternate dimension counterpart of The Amazing Spider-man. Noir Spider-man, set in the early 1930s. Then finally, there’s the 2099 Spider-man, who is simply described as the Spider-man of a possible future. Each Spider-man has their own unique traits and gameplay style, giving Shattered Dimensions a nice variety of genres.

Amazing, Ultimate and 2099 Spider-man all play alike, with a few key differences. First we’ll start with The Amazing Spider-man. Gameplay consists of web-based maneuvering and combat, with some very recognisable moves on display, including his famous Spider Sense. Ultimate Spider-man focuses on combat based around his outfit, the Symboit Suit. Ultimate Spider-man can activate Chaos Mode, increasing the frequency and impact of his attacks. Last but not least, 2099 Spider-man features a futuristic setting, providing a welcoming change of scenery from the previous two Spider-men. 2099 Spider-man features free-falling sections, in which you must maneuver in the air to avoid rubble and other obstacles in your path.

The graphic style of Shattered Dimensions varies amongst the different Spider-men, adding to the change of scenery. Amazing and Ultimate dimensions are presented in a lovely cel-shaded style, featuring bright visuals and surroundings. The 2099 dimension, as mentioned, features futuristic scenery, giving off a darker tone than the Amazing and Ultimate levels. The Noir dimension offers a much darker and grittier setting, with an overlay of grayscale. Expect many dark locations with only a little bit of light to guide you.

Noir Spider-man is noticeably the most different of the four Spider-men on offer. Noir gameplay requires you to take a stealth based approach to levels, in which you must lurk in the shadows and perform takedowns on unsuspecting foes.  If you have played any of the Splinter Cell titles then you’ll feel right at home with Noir Spider-man. You can perform mostly everything the other Spider-men are capable of, but combat is not a strong point. Noir loses health very easily, and can only take a few hits before giving out.

While each Spider-man has some variety to them, level layout remains the same for pretty much every dimension. Levels play out like big boss battles. They consist of you beating down the boss, chasing them throughout the level until you get to the final showdown. There will be mini objectives across the way, the majority of them having you rescue civilians and dropping them off at safety points. There will be times during boss fights where you’ll be thrown into a first person view, engaging Spider-man in a fist fight with his current opponent. Sometimes you may have to protect them from enemies while they open a path for you. These sections remind me very much of Nintendo’s Punch Out!! series, as you hook left and right while dodging backwards. It gets quite repetitive after the first few levels, which is quite sad since it’s an excellent level format.

Every level has a set of challenges for you to complete, which are all part of the Web of Destiny. Challenges range from finishing story objectives and taking out enemies to performing unique finishes and collecting items. Finishing challenges awards you spider essence, which can be used to power up your Spider-men. You can choose from a selection of combat moves or stat boosts to spend your essence on. Going back and completing challenges you’ve missed is a great way to give yourself a boost if you’re struggling with the game. It also adds a nice bit of replay value, giving you a chance to uncover things you may have missed the first time around.

One consistent problem I’ve had with Shattered Dimensions is the camera, which seems to suffer from 3D Sonic Syndrome. Frustrating camera angles blocking your view, thus leading to you web swinging into a wall. While this doesn’t affect you too much, it can prove to be stupidly annoying during the Noir sections. You’ll spend most of your time crawling on the walls, but the camera will jitter and mess with the controls. So instead of climbing to the right, you’ll move upwards into the light and be hit with a barrage of bullets. I love the Noir levels but this just makes them so frustrating to play.

Let’s touch on something positive before we come to a close. As you should expect from a Spider-man title, voice acting is of the highest quality. Each Spider-man feels in character, along with the other characters making appearances throughout the game. Spidey still keeps his sarcastic sense of humour, so don’t be surprised if you burst out laughing throughout a level. These neighbourhoods aren’t gonna friendly themselves! As I mentioned earlier in the review, Stan Lee is the narrator for the game, who appears during each act. Everybody loves Stan Lee, and it’s fantastic to hear him narrating such an experience. Good job Stan.

Well then, that certainly sounded positive didn’t it? Drawing attention away from the fact we’ve said Spider-man and Spider-men a lot throughout the review, we’ve arrived at the conclusion! Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions is one of Spidey’s finest outings yet, and combines several Marvel universes into one complete package. I may not be the biggest Spider-man fan, but I can tell a good game from a bad one. I would very much welcome a Shattered Dimensions 2, if it ever happened.

Final Score – 8/10

Spider-man’s finest adventure yet. Offers a nice variety of gameplay, topped off with fantastic voice work, visuals and story. Excelsior!

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