Over the past few years Spider-Man has become one of the most popular comic book heroes in gaming. His open-world endeavors have really upped the ante in the licensed comic book game genre. This year Activision and new developer Beenox have decided to change things up a bit with Shattered Dimensions. Now with linear mission structure, four variations on our favorite web-crawler and the incredibly addictive Web of Destiny, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is yet again overflowing with fun.
In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, you take charge of four different Spider-Men each with their own unique world to get back fragments of the artifact known as The Tablet of Order and Chaos, which was shattered and scattered into pieces when Spidey scuffled with Mysterio. Apparently this isn’t a good thing as Madame Web shows up in each dimension and warns each of the Spider-Men that they had better get back all the pieces or there is going to be a whole lot of trouble.
Over the past few Spidey romps, we were controlling our hero in an open-world environment in which you can swing around the great state of New York and pretty much waste a whole bunch of time collecting spider emblems. Well, this time around things have kind of changed. Gone is the open-world and the “closed” world makes a triumphant return (if you remember the first Spider-Man movie game was not open-ended) and it actually fits the game pretty well.
When I played through Dimensions, I actually found myself completing missions because there was no huge city to swing around in. With this game being closed-ended, it changes the way the game is played. For the most part the web swinging is limited. The majority of the time I found myself web-zipping between points and these points are hard to miss. You can only web-zip to where there is a yellow pointer. The actual web swinging, like I said, isn’t used a whole lot but when you can use it it’s really kind of pointless and just feels like it was put in the game because what would Spidey be without him swinging through the air?
I found out quickly that this game is really based more on combat than mobility. It seemed like every two feet I had to face a band of the same four types of thugs which got redundant after a while, but what game isn’t? The combat is pretty much what you come to expect from a Spider-Man game: button mashing. The face buttons are your attacks while the Left Trigger is your defense button which, when held down, lets you dodge out of the way of fists, feet, and bullets.
I found myself holding down this button quite a bit when I was fighting because it does the dodging automatically. But it only works on those three things. If you want to dodge out of the way of other things (like a big bat), you have to pull the Left Trigger and A button at the same time to pull off an evading role. I rarely rolled out of the way. You can get by just holding down the trigger and mashing the buttons because when you hold down the trigger you are not locked into a defensive stance. The combat is simplistic to where you will be knocking the lights out of thugs in no time.
Obviously with this game being closed-ended, the gameplay has changed dramatically but what really are interesting are the four different dimensions. You have the “now” which is Spidey as you know and love him current day, there is the “noir” which has you controlling a 1930’s era Spidey, the “ultimate” dimension which is a new take on Spidey’s origin, and then there is “2099”, which obviously takes place in the future. Each dimension brings a unique look and feel, different boss characters, and different ways to play. The ultimate and amazing (“now”) dimensions focus on Spider-Man’s web attacks (Amazing) and the power of the black suit (Ultimate).
While Noir focuses on stealth and 2099 is the one dimension where you will use web swinging the most. In my playtime with Dimensions, I found myself enjoying the Ultimate and Amazing dimensions the best and the 2099 and Noir dimensions were by far my least favorite. I didn’t enjoy the futuristic levels because it just seemed too cluttered. I was chasing the Hobgoblin (and by chasing I mean diving after him) and it’s a kind of chase that has you flying down at full speed trying to catch up with him while avoiding flying cars and such. There was just so much going on around the characters that I actually lost where he was. But thank goodness for spider sense (hit Up on the d-pad).
This showed me his location but it was still a headache. But that doesn’t even compare to the Noir levels in which I only have one comment: stealth does not belong in a Spider-Man game. This holds especially true when you have to hide in the shadows with a wonky camera. The only thing I liked about these levels were the stealth take downs but even those couldn’t help me from being shot, a lot. Once the baddies see you, you have to scurry quickly back into the shadows. And thanks to the bad camera, I usually found myself web-zipping towards them. Luckily the AI isn’t too bright and gives up the chase after a few seconds.
As previously stated, each dimension has a different look and they all look fantastic. The ultimate and amazing dimensions look similar while 2099 of course looks all futuristic and Noir looks dark and gritty. Beenox did a great job in creating worlds that feel completely different from each other. They also cast great voice talent. Each of the Spider-Men have different voices and each are acted very well. Even the supporting cast does a great job. Although I would have liked to hear the amazing dimension Spidey played by the guy who voiced him in the ’90s cartoon. But he does a great job voicing the Noir Spidey and Neil Patrick Harris of course does a great job with the Amazing voice.
Not to let any collectible junkie down, Dimensions has spider emblems for you to collect. You collect these and complete challenges on each level so you can buy combat and character upgrades that help you in your quest to find the shards. You can also purchase different outfits for each of the Spider-Men if you have collected enough emblems and completed enough challenges. And in an interesting move, each of the difficulty levels (easy, medium, and hard) has different unlocks as well. If you beat levels on easy, you unlock movies. Beat them on medium, unlock concept art. And if you beat levels on hard you unlock 3D figurines.
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back with different looks and different worlds. While this game strays from what we have come to know and love in Spider-Man games, it was a change that was needed. The straight-to-the-point levels and the four different dimensions bring a whole new level of gameplay to the Spider-Man franchise that is a breath of fresh air that it needed.
Review copy provided by publisher.