Spidey’s back, but this time he’s got help from…Spider-Man? That’s right, four different Spider-Men from various dimensions must work together to recover pieces of the shattered Tablet of Order and Chaos to save the world. Is Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions a title worth sticking to? Read more and see how we feel about it.
Shattered Dimensions is the latest title in the Spider-Man saga, but this one’s quite different from the past few Spider-Man titles. Beenox Studios, best known for Bee Movie Game and Guitar Hero Smash Hits amongst others have made some changes to the way the game works. First off, Shattered Dimensions is not an open world game – the game is now made up of 14 levels including a tutorial, each featuring one of Spidey’s arch-villains. Secondly, instead of one playable Spider-Man, Shattered Dimensions lives up to its name and features four versions of Spider-Man, each from a different dimension. You’ll be able to play in the form of Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir, and Spider-Man 2099.
Due to these changes you’ll also encounter new types of gameplay which we haven’t seen in Spider-Man games previously. Spider-Man Noir is the most notable because melee combat is no longer an option. On missions in the Noir dimension, players are forced to use the shadows and take out your enemies in complete stealth. Stepping into view of an enemy or being caught in a roaming spotlight will trigger an alarm and have nearby enemies scouring the area for you, though only for a few seconds thankfully. You’ll often stick to higher points in these maps, and when you’re positioned above the enemy, you’ll be able to perform a scripted takedown animation which varies depending on your position.
The next noticeable change in the gameplay is featured in the Spider-Man 2099 dimension which will be a little more of what you’re used to, but it adds in some flight sequences. In each 2099 level you’ll encounter a section similar to the large tunnel sequence in God of War 3 where you must attempt to dodge obstacles while catching up to and attacking a specific target. To help you with the obstacle avoidance, a bullet-time style power can be activated which slows things down for you.
With the remaining two dimensions, Ultimate and Amazing, players won’t really have any major changes to the gameplay. It’s heavily focuses on web slinging as well as the web zip move allowing quick movement from one point to another. The melee combat works well to start, but you’ll learn quickly that you’re going to become much more powerful in due time. With each enemy you eliminate, and by destroying some environmental objects, you earn “spider essence” which acts as the in-game currency. You can use this essence to purchase new combat abilities or character upgrades such as adding more energy to your health bar, special power, or even alternate costumes to wear. You can also earn “spider essence” by completing in-game challenges of which there are 180 in total. If you complete a required objective for a challenge, it will track it in the top right corner and notify if you have, for example, 3/10 henchmen disarmed. You can also view the “Web of Destiny” in the menu, which can show you which challenge you’ve completed and what’s left to work on.
For those of you who enjoy item collecting, every level will have a large amount of collectable tokens as well as some hidden spiders to collect. If you plan on getting all the achievements or trophies for the game, you’re going to work for it. However, if you need a little help, you can activate your “Spider Sense” which acts like the detective mode that was present in Batman: Arkham Asylum. When Spider Sense is enabled, enemies will be outlined in red while interactive points and collectable tokens and spiders will be highlighted in yellow. You’ll need to be relatively close to them to see them, but this is a big help, and you can keep your spider sense enabled for the entire game if you so choose.
While everything sounds perfect – nothing in life is perfect. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is great, but it does have a few small setbacks. Firstly, while the camera works mostly great, there are some moments where you’ll encounter clipping, or just bad angles in general. It’s minimal compared to many games out there, but you will encounter it. I had a few instances where I came out of rage mode while playing as Ultimate Spider-Man and my character wouldn’t respond and he was in mid-animation. This required me to restart from checkpoints, which are thankfully extremely frequent, but it shouldn’t happen in the first place. My next issue, which maybe I’m being picky… What’s with pointless time limits? In some sections of a few levels, you’ll have a countdown giving you a short amount of time to get from point A to point B. There’s no reason to have the time limit as the trek is simple and takes seconds – but why not let players appreciate the levels around them instead of rushing them?
Looking past those few issues, and the terrible [yet expected] A.I., Shattered Dimensions plays well. The combat is extremely fun once you start unlocking new moves, and the boss battles are all somewhat enjoyable once you figure out how to beat them. Each boss will have a pattern of attack, and you might find yourself lost or even slightly frustrated, but once you learn the trick to defeating them, it’s a ton of fun. Each boss contains short first person fighting sequences using the thumbsticks, and it felt good to have that variety, and it really brings you up close and personal with each of your arch-enemies.
You’re probably wondering how well the game presents itself – no worries – it’s gorgeous. Because you play in four dimensions, the game feels very diverse. The 1930’s-modeled Noir dimension levels have fantastic lighting effects and really carry a style similar to “Sin City” making them feel very immersive for you as the player. Jumping into 2099 places you in very Fifth Element stylized levels with massive skyscrapers sporting futuristic designs and very glossy visuals. It’s a scene straight from the movies to be honest. Amazing and Ultimate dimensions feature cel-shading visuals which also make for some beautiful designs. With the switch to level-based play rather than open world, Beenox was really able to push the power of the consoles and give us an exquisite looking game.
In the sound category, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions wins again – the game features an all-star voice lineup including voiceovers from Neil Patrick Harris, Nolan North, Jim Cummings, and even the amazing Stan Lee! Spidey’s cheesy sense of humor is back of course, with lots of one-liner jokes, some of which are good, and others which are terrible, but that’s the Spidey we all know and love. While you’ll hear some lines a little too often, there’s still quite a lot of varied dialogue in the long run, so it never gets too stale. The soundtrack helps set pacing of the game with faster beats in moments of action, but for the most part it keeps itself in the background, allowing you to hear Spider-Mans’ normal banter.
Coming to a close, it’s obvious that the development team at Beenox contains some true Spider-Man fans as they put a lot of effort into this title. It’s got so much variation in the levels, all of which are enjoyable, and there’s a ton of collectables in every level for those wanting to explore. Despite the few issues, Shattered Dimensions is a truly awesome Spider-Man title and it’s sure to impress fans of the series. A playthrough on normal difficulty should last you around 12 hours though this is a game you’ll likely enjoy playing through a second time, adding more to the replay value. The game is available on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and Nintendo DS – so do yourself a favor and check it out for the system of your choice.
This review is based off the Xbox 360 version for which a review copy was provided by Activision.
Rating Description 8.5 Gameplay
Fun and varied combat techniques, but there are some slight glitches that may pop up.
Stunning environments in every dimension, and gorgeous lighting effects notably in the Noir levels.
Stellar cast voicing, but some phrases are repeated a little too often. Soundtrack isn't amazing, but it's not bad either.
8.5 Final Score