Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a decent, well-executed title. It looks good, it has a lot for fans of Spidey to enjoy, but, for the most part, it’s a 3rd person action platformer that “borrows” from every other popular title on the market. If your looking for another dose of Spider-Man, this time stretching across 4 universes (Amazing, Ultimate, Noir and 2099) then this game will satisfy. However, for those of us who only mildly enjoy the web-slinger’s crusades, its hard to get past how standard this adventure really is.
The story is straight up. Mysterio busts into a museum, and whilst fighting him, you break a sacred tablet that “shatters” across several “dimensions.” Madame Web is your guide as you jump back and forth across 14 levels playing as 4 different Spidey’s, each with their own gameplay mechanics and unique level designs. Although, how different the Spider-Men are is fairly limited. Amazing, Ultimate and 2099 pretty much have all the same basic moves, expect Ultimate and 2099 can hit LB to go into Rage Mode or slow time respectively. Noir is the one big difference and offers up semi-bland stealth play. It’s fun at first to yank some poor shlub from the shadows and bash his head against a wall before sticking him their like a snot – but the stealth mechanic really boils down to staying to the well defined shadows and pressing B when you are near a guy. Way too simple.
This also brings about the biggest problem with Shattered Dimensions – it’s too easy. I played on normal (there is also easy and hard) and got about two thirds through the game in a few hours. Now, there are challenges to unlock in the form the Web of Destiny (a screen that shows all your challenges as a big, you guessed it, web!) but these seem just like your average add-ons to get people to come back and re-play the levels. Added to this, you get points to upgrade either your moves or your character (health, more Rage Mode, etc.). I’ve bored myself just talking about it – it’s been done a thousand times before and none of the extras in Spider-Man, like costumes and bonus art, will really push you to unlock everything, especially since you’ll most likely breeze through the game. No joke, I think I died twice the entire time I played. One more thing while I’m complaining. Attention all video game developers – nobody cares about unlocking art and other meaningless dribble – give it up, we are on to unlocking BS like this as just another ruse to try and trick us into thinking that your game is deep.
Although the game is short, too easy and cliched – ripping game play mechanics from any number of the more popular titles in the genre (God of War, Devil May Cry, you name it) Shattered Dimensions is still a pretty fun ride while it lasts. Graphics are really solid, especially the level designs in the futuristic 2099 levels. Voice over is top-notch (Stan Lee narrates) with well written, classic Spidey quips that blend in with the exposition of the story and make standard cutscenes a little easier to handle. Level designs are varied, as you bounce from fighting Kraven in a Jungle setting, to Electro at an electric plant (could of seen that one coming). I was particularly fond of 2099, which throws a lot of different looks at you right away that deal with an “explosive” fight centered around a tricked out, psychic Hobgoblin (get it, explosive, Hobgoblin?).
Combat offers a lot of moves once you start to unlock them and controls make it easy to really feel like Spidey as you web line between bad guys, combo’ing off one then flying over to another to unleash your web-slinging fury. Although it looks great, combat is again, very easy, and doesn’t take more than mashing X and throwing in a few heavy attacks with Y to beat anybody in the game. Bad guys are fairly limited too. Each level offers more or less the same three guys. Grunts, weaker guys who shoot, and some kind of heavy. Granted, they have different appearances and slightly tweaked mechanics in each level, but more or less those are your enemies throughout.
Controls overall work well like I mentioned, but I found web swinging to be a little off. It seems that the response is just the slightest bit staggered, especially when it comes to using the A button to do a massive web leap directly up into the air.
Boss battles are borderline good, although again steal from a lot of other titles. More or less, you pursue one enemy each level, which is a neat way to set up a stage neat – follow your villain throughout the entire level as he tries to foil your attempts at foiling him.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a fairly soulless title when you get down to it. It seems the designers looked at all the other popular action games and said, “yeah, those ideas will work just fine with a Spider-Man mask on, or perhaps 4.” However, they’re pretty much right. It’s a fun experience while it lasts. If you’re a big Spider-Man fan, there is a lot to like about this game because it jumps across 4 different eras of the Spider-Man Universe. Although Shattered Dimensions won’t be winning any awards for originality, it’s a good dose of the webbed one and supplies a handful of good thrills.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is published by Activision and retails for $49.99. It is available for the XBOX360, PS3, Wii and Nintendo DS.