reviews\ Sep 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions review


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is Activision’s latest attempt to cash in on the hit Marvel franchise. Its previous attempts have wavered in quality, between the stellar release of Spider-Man 2 a few years back and the disastrous Spider-Man 3 port that followed. Luckily, the company has something new this time around, thanks to the fresh approach taken by the development team at Beenox. Rather than guide one Spider-Man through a city strewn with trouble, you’re guiding four.

Shattered Dimensions is spread across four alternate universes, each with their own particular Spider-Man assigned to it. Amazing Spider-Man flies around modern day New York (and, in his opening stage, an Aztec jungle); Ultimate Spider-Man whips his way around the city’s underbelly; Noir Spider-Man kicks it around the 40’s era; and Spider-Man 2099 fights crime in the future. Somehow, they’re all tied together by a mysterious artifact, which has shattered into pieces and must be reformed before the future of all the heroes is put into jeopardy. Fortunately, a wise elderly woman, the mysterious Madame Web, is here to help.

It’s outstanding how Beenox incorporated little gameplay enhancements into each of the Spider-Men. Amazing Spider-Man controls as you’d expect, with plenty of web-zips across beams and fast-paced combos. Ultimate possesses greater power and agility, thanks to the living organisms within his suit. 2099 can slow down time in spurts, via accelerated vision, to avoid missiles and get the jump on stronger enemies. And Noir Spider-Man has a lot in common with Batman, using the shadows as his ally to sneak up on enemies before they get a chance to shoot him.

All four universes work substantially well. Noir Spider-Man’s stages require more stealth than a player might expect from Spider-Man’s world, but they really fit well into the game overall. Our particular favorite, however, has to be 2099’s stages. Running around a city and free-falling to catch up to enemies is simply mesmerizing, especially when you meet up with the cybernetic Green Goblin for the first time.

In fact, all of the boss encounters have something to offer here. Vulture’s, for instance, requires you to get the jump on him by shining spotlights on him while evading his biting attacks. Part of these stages involve strategy, while others put you face-to-face with your opponents, dodging their strikes with well-timed analog stick movements and then counter-attacking with your punches. It’s a great approach that puts a twist on the routine Spider-Man play. However, some of these bosses will really put you to the test – especially when you first encounter Deadpool.

Along with exciting gameplay and a mother of a final boss stages (we won’t give it away), Spider-Man also contains longevity through item collection. Secret emblems and various challenges are scattered across each stage, and the more you play, the more you’ll be able to unlock in terms of abilities and outfits. While we would’ve preferred more stages or the ability to battle one Spider-Man against another, this certainly beats nothing.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions looks marvelous for a superhero game. Each universe is designed to true specifics for each hero, with Noir’s world dressed in black and white (complete with shadow effects to let you know when you’re in the open) and 2099’s futuristic landscapes, complete with – yup – flying cars. The game runs efficiently through each stage, with nary any bit of slowdown – even as the enemies get bigger and bigger. The camera is a pain at times, resulting in you missing out on a landing or an enemy striking behind you. Fortunately, the game has a safeguard, so if you’re falling to your doom, you have a very brief window to recover by tapping the right trigger.

As for audio, it’s terrific. The music rkicks into high gear with each of the stages, particularly in 2099’s. We also enjoy the voicework, it’s top-notch throughout. Hearing different actors voice the four Spider-Man across each world (including Neil Patrick Harris as Amazing) is really a joy to experience. Plus, whoever handled the voice of Deadpool and Electro deserve awards…or more paying jobs, at least.

Even with the mildly troublesome camera issues, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a smart-buy for comic book fans and action gamers. Its four scenarios will keep you busy for a while, and the swinging action shouldn’t be missed. Take it for a swing.


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