Review: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

FOUR PARALLEL WORLDS – ONE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURE

Developer: Beenox
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 6MB Mininum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 480p / 720p
Compatability (Xbox 360): 76KB Mininum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Rating: 8.5

Up until last year’s stellar Batman game, Arkham Asylum, Spiderman was the king of superhero video games. In recent years Peter Parker has seen his exploits dip in quality a bit, and Shattered Dimensions is his attempt to reclaim the throne. Developer Beenox brings a lot of new ideas to the Spiderman series. Shattered Dimensions takes a different route than previous games and attempts to make the worlds of Peter Parker more interesting. While not perfect, Shattered Dimensions feels fresh and is designed well enough to be a successful entry into the series and one that the web-slinger should continue build upon.

The most interesting thing about Shattered Dimensions is, as the name suggests, that we are put in control of four distinctly different versions of Spiderman working together for a common goal. The Marvel Universe is in fact made up of many different dimensions and in the game we take control of a Spiderman from The Amazing dimension (or the one we are most familiar with), the Ultimate dimension, the Noir Dimension, and the 2099 dimension. In effect we control four different characters through four different worlds, and while two of them feel too similar, the game has a lot of variety and style. The story has Mysterio stealing the “Tablet of Order and Chaos” and its inadvertent shattering causes ripples throughout the Marvel Universe. Mysterio plays the role as the main bad guy but throughout the game’s thirteen levels you go up against almost all of Spiderman’s rogues gallery. The set up may seem a little contrived and it is, but the game never takes itself too seriously and the way Spiderman reacts to the more outlandish elements makes the story enjoyable. It is a typical comic book fare but that’s not really a bad thing in this case.

The graphics are nothing out of this world but surely acceptable in today's gaming world.

As I mentioned before we are put in control of four different Spiderman and of those, the Amazing and the Ultimate feel the closest. The biggest difference being that Amazing relies more on acrobatics and speed in combat while Ultimate uses brute force and the black symbiote suit. Their abilities can be upgraded independently and later in the game becomes a necessity. Combat in the 2099 universe is a sort of mix between the two universes with Parker having great strength and moves with awesome camera movement. 2099 combat also feels more fluid and changing from one target to the next feels easier. The Noir universe is by far the most different in terms of combat as that Spiderman is sort of a wimp. He still fights but most enemies have guns and are stronger so it is much more advantageous to use stealth to take down foes. The Noir levels were my personal favorite and while the stealth mechanics are rather light, they work and it is always fun to string up a guard on a lamppost.

The level design is not as inspired as the character differences. Each universe has its own look, whether that be Noir’s almost black and white art, to Ultimate’s cell shaded look. Visually they are very distinct but ultimately they are linear hallways towards a boss. Every level has one of Spiderman’s nemeses at the end and after a while it does start to feel like a 40 minute slog to a confrontation. The boss battles are all pretty different mechanically between the four universes but can all be broken down to finding the pattern and exploiting it. This may sound a bit harsh but the game is not short and some level variety, other than esthetically, would have gone a long way. With that said however, I found myself constantly wanting to beat the level so I could see which villain was next and which universe I was going to choose.

The game's variety and diversity is one of the strong points in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.

The sound and visuals are strong but not anything exemplary. The voice work is the highlight with each Spiderman having a different voice actor and feel. Neil Patrick Harris lends his voice to the mainline Amazing Spiderman and I could not think of a better fit. Personally I think he should have been Spiderman instead of Toby McGuire. Stan Lee narrates the important moments in the story and they are as cheesy and over the top as you would hope. I mentioned before how each universe has a different look and Beenox should be commended for pulling it off. Each universe looks great and different all at the same time. The differences in the look of the game is one of its strongest points.

The best part about the game by far is how well developer Beenox was able to take these seemingly disjointed design models and make them work. The stealth elements, as I said before, are not the most in depth but they work and after a few of 2099’s fast paced falling sections and Ultimate’s button mashing sections they really give the game its own identity. It is a blast to see what is around the next corner and while after the first go with each Spiderman we see little in terms of new mechanics, they constantly refine the action and turn other aspects around on the player. The game has thirteen levels and each level is about an hour long if you look for some extras; and it is capped off with a brilliant, in not a bit too long, boss level that forces you to use all the mechanics you have so far. Without spoiling too much the last battle is epic and at the end of it you really feel like you have gone on a journey through the Marvel Universe.

Reviewed by jamespugh5 – December 4, 2010

Graphics
By themselves there is nothing amazing about the graphics but the way the game utilizes so many different styles keeps your eyes focused on something new.
 
Sound
Great voice work and sound effects. Neil Patrick Harris is the man and Stan Lee hams it up … in a good way.
 
Fun
While the game may overstay its welcome, it is only just barely, and the feeling of being a small part in the larger conflict is amazing. While the game misses the mark of being something very special it is great nonetheless and I only hope Spiderman continues down this path.
 
Final Score

 

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