Spider-man/Peter Parker is my favorite superhero of all time. So anything that's usually associated with the web-head being announced (barring the terrible decision regarding "Brand New Day
"), I look for more information like a blood hound. As you can probably imagine, as soon as I heard another Spidey game was being crafted for the next-gen systems that wasn't based on the movies, I was frothing at the mouth for any bit of news on the subject.
In Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions
, you play as Spider-man, Spider-man, Spider-man, and Spider-man. That is four different Spider-men of different dimensions. After the Spidey from the mainstream (or 'Amazing') universe accidentally shatters the Tablet of Order and Chaos, he's instructed by Madame Web to help reclaim the fragments while Spider-men in other dimensions aid him by doing the same. The Spider-men are tasked with retrieving the fragments away from supervillains and restore order to reality. Right off the bat, you're given the option of choosing which universe to explore: the 'noir' universe resembles a crime film from the 40's with high contrast of darkness and light (with a 'grainy' look, no less), the 'Amazing' universe looks like a comic book popping out of the frame, the '2099' universe resembles something along the lines of Blade Runner
meets Mass Effect
with an incredibly sleek futuristic art design, and the 'Ultimate' universe utilizes cell-shaded artwork and makes the world appear glossy. In the presentation, the story is presented with terrific pre-rendered cutscenes along with 'motion comic-esque' cinematics before a level takes place that reveals the location and supervillain very effectively.
Part of the appeal of the different Spider-men is that each one is voiced by an actor who had voiced Spidey in past incarnations (including Neil Patrick Harris, Josh Keaton, Christopher Daniel Barnes, and Dan Gilvezan). All of them manage to remain faithful to the character of Spidey yet manage to infuse certain touches that make each one stand out; for instance, the 'ultimate' Spidey is more lighthearted and comical while the 'noir' Spidey has a more serious twist to the character. I'm simply amazed at how much attention each dimension is given; not only is the level design absolutely phenomenal, but each villain in the different universes is given a terrific voice actor along with a great design that works well within each style.
Now, as much as I love the game, there are problems. 80% of the levels have the SAME objectives: beat up thugs, fight supervillain once, supervillain runs away, beat up more bad guys, fight the supervillain who has used a tablet piece. The combat, while varied, can get repetitious by the sheer amount of bad guys you have to plow through in order to advance. While the story has snappy writing, the plot never advances past the line of safe storytelling - it's just a fun romp through the worlds of the Spider-men. Despite being adept at creating the best boss fights in a superhero video game I have ever played, the developers tend to fall back into using some gameplay cliches, especially when it comes to incorporating civilians. Also, in a few instances, the voiceover for Spidey or a supervillain will be muffled by the surrounding chaos or out of sync, which is distracting to say the least.
What may turn some people off of this game is that this is no longer an open-world Spider-man game. I know, it's a cardinal sin, but the developers at Beenox have ventured into new territory that brings fresh blood into the mix. Levels can range from the comically absurd (such as one that features Deadpool on an oil rig) to downright terrifying (a carnival level at night with Norman Osborne) and all are created in a strangely open linear level design that could have never been given the loving attention if the game was rendered in an entirely open-world. The combat has been tooled to be flexible enough for any player to pick up and adopt a fighting strategy without being too difficult to figure out. Along with the beat-em-up formula, you'll encounter instances of First-person punch outs, and while they're not exactly the highlight of the game, they do provide nice breaks from the action for an up-close butt-kicking of a supervillain.
Did I mention that Stan Lee is wonderfully campy as the game's narrator? Yes, I thought you would like the sound of that.
While Shattered Dimensions
is not as polished as Batman: Arkham Asylum
, it takes more risks with gameplay and, for the most part, succeeds in crafting a very diversified and thrilling experience with sharp writing. Problems with repetition aside, Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions
proves that Spider-man as a video game character can still spin a good yarn. Yes, I am ending on a terrible pun.BUY WHEN CHEAPER
And yes, the 'Sharted Dimensions' joke has already been made, so nuts to you.