Game Review – Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

I groaned when I first loaded up Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. It was Stan Lee’s narration that elicited the response: mightiest of Marvellites he may be, but he still walks a fine line between cool uncle and Uncle Creepy. He always sounds so enthusiastic, with a sort of breathless exuberance that means I find it impossible to take anything he says seriously, which doesn’t bode well when he’s setting up a story.

Thankfully, the story of Shattered Dimensions is utter hokum, with or without the talents of Generalissimo Lee. The central conceit is that four different Spideys – Amazing, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate – have teamed up to find pieces of an ancient tablet that shatters dimensions, or some such nonsense. It serves as an excuse for the player to take control of all four Spider-Men as they punch, kick and swing their way through a series of classic villains, towards a final denouement against Mysterio.

In theory, this means that we get four unique styles of play in one game; in practice, we actually only get two: Amazing, Ultimate and 2099 are largely button-mashing brawlers, while Noir is an Arkham Asylum-inspired stealth-em-up.

Where this game really differs from its predecessors is in its structure: Shattered Dimensions ditches the open city in favour of a linear series of levels, each one centred round a classic Marvel villain (with a couple of odd choices: why is Juggernaut in a Spidey game? Couldn’t they find Rhino?).

The loss of the city means that this game is shorter than its predecessors, clocking in at around 10-12 hours, but the tighter focus means that each level looks unique, crafted around the diabolical plans of whichever villain you happen to be taking down at that moment. Special mention must go to the levels featuring Sandman and the usually-rubbish Carnage, which really do look and feel like they’ve come directly out of the comic books.

Most of the levels contain very similar goals: fight bad guys, beat boss, rescue civilians, repeat. The Noir levels mix up the formula, placing a premium on staying out of sight. Each level can be repeated at any time, allowing the player to take on minor challenges in an effort to unlock new abilities and costumes for each of the four heroes.

The controls occasionally feel unwieldy, and the camera breaks every time you cling to a wall (a real issue when you’re playing, y’know, Spider-Man). The loss of the open city does make for a linear experience and the game is repetitive; the 2099 levels in particular seeming to rely on doing the same tasks three or four times in an effort to pad the gameplay out. 2099 also seems to have the worst boss battles, despite the best efforts of Scorpion and Doctor Octopus.

Once you’ve finished all the levels, there’s little else to keep you entertained, unless you really want to finish all the minor challenges present in each of the twelve main levels.

But these are quibbles. Decent production values, a relatively deep combat system, stellar voice acting, and plenty of in-jokes and geek references stop this being another throwaway superhero title. Shattered Dimensions won’t be winning any awards for originality, but it’s a definite improvement on the recent Spider-Man franchise

GS Reviewer: Geoff Scaplehorn

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  1. Once you’ve finished all the levels, there’s little else to keep you entertained, unless you really want to finish all the minor challenges present in each of the twelve main levels.

    • …which I didn’t, I think my point was. The challenges are fun, the first time around, but they’re not strong enough to necessarily warrant redoing all the levels again.

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