When I was a mere lad, Activision released “Spider-Man” for the PSX. That game was the pinnacle of comic book games at the time, and in some ways, it still is. Defeating Rhino by fooling the big gray oaf into crashing into electrical transformers and watching Spidey, Captain America, the Punisher play poker are as visible in my head as what I had for dinner last night.
“Spider-Man; Shattered Dimensions” tries to live up to the old game’s legacy with varying, but overall satisfying, results.
“Shattered Dimensions” plot is very thin, but it works because it gives players a way to see alternate versions of the wall-crawler. At the beginning of the game, Mysterio, the evil fish-bowl headed villain, attempts to steal a tablet that grants the user apocalyptic powers. While trying to save the tablet from Mysterio’s clutches, Spidey accidentally smashes it into pieces. Mysterio is able to escape with a piece. Madame Web materializes out of nowhere, which is common for the omniscient psychic, and says that the pieces of the tablet were scattered over four dimensions. Of course, one dimension is the original, Earth-616, Spider-Man. In a surprising move, the Spider-Man from the 2099 universe, Miguel O’Hara, and his utopic dystopia of Nueva York is one of the characters. The Noir universe, which has only been around for a couple of years, makes its appearance with the Spider-Man from that universe. The last Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, is widely known and for good reason. The “Ultimate Spider-Man” comic revamped the webhead in a modern setting, retelling all of his famous stories, changing things as it went along.
Between all four of these universes, there are several pieces of the tablet. Each stage consists of taking control of that version’s Spider-Man in hopes of capturing one piece of the tablet. Surprise, a villain appears to take the tablet every time. I will not name all of them because you should see who they are for yourself, but I will say that the hairy man-beast known as Kraven, the unpredictable Carnage and the loving assassin, Deadpool are there. While these ravenous characters are all different, the stages they are on are as similar as any boyband. Usually, the stage starts off with Spidey spying on a piece of the tablet, a villain conveniently nabs it before he can and a fight ensues, but he escapes before the wall-crawler can retrieve it.
There is some variety and these present themselves as an experience that keeps “Shattered Dimensions” interesting. In a level involving the Sandman (Not the beer-swilling wrestler), there is a section of the sand quarry where you must web sling from one platform to another using barrels and other pieces of debris caused by the Sandman’s sand-filled tornado. In another scene that would be excellent for a new Spider-Man movie, you must web swing over large waves created by Deadpool for the amusement of his reality show’s fans. Whoever gave Deadpool a reality show is insane, but should be given an Emmy.
“Shattered Dimensions” plays like other action games readily available in today’s gaming market. There are multiple action buttons, a jump button and a lock-on button. Sometimes there are some real-time elements requiring the users to move the right and left analog sticks down to dodge attacks and move the sticks in other ways to punch opponents. While the real-time scenes have seemingly split the gaming populace, I can say that they are engrossing and should have been added more often. The many incarnations of Spider-Man control very similarly. While the standard buttons do not change, the attacks are different. The Noir Spider-Man performs stealth attacks, encasing the baddies in a gooey cocoon. Ultimate Spider-Man goes into rage mode, unleashing the symbiote suit that he possesses in the game. Spider-Man 2099 receives accelerated vision, which gives him bullet-dodging, “Matrix” speed. Amazing Spider-Man feels generic as he does not have a powerup like the other three, but he has excellent range.
As the gameplay does a good job, the camera moves around too much during frantic battles, making it hard to keep track of multiple enemies. Holding the lock-on button helps, but you will still need to reset the camera at certain times. Also, all Spider-Men can go into Spider-Sense mode to find civilians who need rescued (which there are a lot of), find objects to destroy and locate hiding villains. The only time the Spider-Sense is shown outside this mode is when Spider-Man is about to be attacked. The mode hurt my head after using it for long periods of time, which is needed when trying to locate civilians and finding villians. It also changes the way the surroundings look, giving them a blue filter, which detracted from the unique look of the four dimensions. Spider-Sense should not have to be turned on and off. Spider-Man cannot turn his off and using it is so helpful, so it not be tied to a mode.
Graphically, “Shattered Dimensions” looks different in the different realities. The Noir universe is full of blacks and whites, which promotes the covert, espionage style prevalent in the Noir levels. The 2099 levels are super sexy and sleek, matching the hyper future of the 2099 universe. The Ultimate world has a black, cel-shaded outline around objects, matching the art style of the comic. The Amazing areas use a typical video game style with a wide array of colors. All-in-all, the graphics are not on “God of War” level, but they are decent.
Even though the stages are all similar, I am still drawn to the game. This game infuses enough of the charm from the “Spider-Man” PSX game that it stays fun throughout the flaws. The music is slightly whimsical, but dramatic, which is excellent when paired with Peter Parker’s witty dialogue. There are also many unlockable costumes, including the Amazing Bag-Man and Iron Spider-Man. Even though they are mere swaps and can only be used on a certain Spidey (The Amazing Bag-Man can only be used during Amazing Spider-Man levels), it is great to see them and is a throwback to the additional costumes in the PSX game. If you like Spider-Man, who I hear is very popular, you will want to play this game.