Before I dig into this review, it’s only fair that I make a few things crystal clear to you, the reader. Number one, I am a huge Spider-Man fan. Some would prefer to call me an uber-spider-nerd. I own pretty much every Spider-Man comic from 1963 up, watched all the cartoons, and adorned a plastic mask on more than one occasion for Halloween as a kid. That said, I also consider myself a very harsh critic — one that hasn’t been too happy with the past few iterations of the hero’s videogame counterpart.
Its most recent predecessor, Web of Shadows, showed promise in early game footage but ultimately suffered from the same old open New York City sandbox setting, causing me to lose interest a few hours in. Would Shattered Dimensions suffer the same fate, or could it finally deliver a heroic Spider-Man game worthy of a spot on your shelf next to Batman: Arkham Asylum? The answer lies below.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is quite simply the best Spider-Man game I have played in recent memory. Sure, it lacks the open world sandbox feel we’ve grown accustomed to, but it more than makes up for that through its varied settings and polished delivery. Is it perfect? No. But I firmly believe that its positives far outweigh any negatives the game may have.
Developer Beenox has given us a Spider-Man game that feels very much like a string of action packed comic books tied together via a story arc that revolves around a mystical tablet shattered and spread across four different dimensions. Fragments of this tablet have fallen into villainous hands, and as you might of guessed, each of these dimensions comes complete with its very own friendly neighborhood Spider-Man tasked with getting them back. I myself had reservations about playing as anything but the classic red and blue Spidey I grew up with, but the other three versions kept things fresh and proved to be very fun in their own right.
Noir Spidey traverses the skylines in a 50s setting, with a very, “Metal Gear meets Batman” kind of feel to his world, utilizing stealth combat and shadows to hunt evildoers. The more traditional Amazing Spider-Man wields massive web-based weapons paired with an agile and elusive combat style true to the comic book character introduced to us in the early 60s. The futuristic 2099 Spidey is the Bruce Lee of the bunch, and last but not least, the Ultimate Spider-Man possess the symbiote suit which is both powerful and menacing. You’ll take control of the various Spideys and battle through twelve unique enemies (Scorpion, Sandman, Carnage, and Juggernaut to name a few) spread evenly across four dimensions before wrapping things up with an epic four part battle against Mysterio.
The gameplay as a whole for Shattered Dimensions is very fluid with tons of unlockable combat upgrades that you’ll really enjoy utilizing across the four different Spideys. However, the swinging and wall crawling mechanics can feel a bit awkward and lacking at times. That said, the almost child proof web zip implementation helps to make up for this with easy to use in-game markers that appear when you face Spider-Man in the direction of something he can zip to. In short, you won’t feel as acrobatic in the air when exploring as you may have in other Spider-Man sandbox style games, but you’ll have enough tools at your disposal to get the job done.
Boss fights are broken up into multiple mini-encounters throughout each level, with the final face off featuring a tablet empowered version of the enemy. The bosses are very well integrated into their levels, and the encounters are diverse in approach and gameplay mechanics. The game is essentially third person, however Beenox did an excellent job of including first person fist fights and other change ups. You’ll be asked to side-scroll your way through a jungle as you dodge sniper fire, avoid spotlight beams as you crawl across a building at night, select the right doors in a mad man’s funhouse, zip your way through debris in an epic sandstorm, outrun a massive tidal wave, and much more. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions excels at delivering satisfying boss encounters that feel very integrated into the levels themselves, and the various elements that comprise them are so well done that you’ll want to experience them over and over again.
In terms of the overall story, the game is broken up into segments much like a stack of kick ass comics that focus on one enemy encounter at a time. Each level in the game stands alone and is very satisfying to complete. However, that said, those who are used to zipping through a game with the end goal being to beat it as fast as humanly possible may end up feeling that it’s a bit too repetitive for their liking. I personally took my time with it and very much enjoyed the arcade-like stand alone level approach. This is not to say that certain checkpoint obstacles such as rescuing power plant workers, rescuing miners, rescuing victims in a burning building, and rescuing hostages being held at gun point don’t become a little overly predictable and mundane, but such is the life of a super hero wearing form-fitting tights.
The attention to detail, sound quality, and voice acting in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions are definitely some of the game’s strengths. Neil Patrick Harris does an amazing job voicing the Amazing Spider-Man, and Dan Gilvezan’s rendition of Spidey 2099 made me feel like a ten year old kid again — sitting on my grandmothers living room floor watching Saturday morning “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends” cartoons. Villainous voices are diverse and entertaining in their own right, packed with enough flare and wit to keep even the most sarcastic webslinger on his punchline delivering toes. At one point, I paused the game and stepped away for a bathroom break during the Deadpool level and returned to hear him taunting me for pausing the game too much.
In closing, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is meant to be savored, not rushed. The game contains twelve drastically different environments that gel perfectly with their enemy counterparts. You’ll be transported to a jungle laden with traps, an oil rig decked out with broadcast equipment, and an amusement park lit only by fireworks and firepower just to name a few. Take each level in stride and approach it as you would a classic thirty page comic book encounter. The game, along with it’s four flavors of friendly neighborhood Spider-Men, will not disappoint.
Here’s The Rundown:
+ Fun and diverse level designs and boss encounters
+ Great arcade-like replay value
+ Superb voice acting and attention to detail
– Repetitive “Hero” tasks
– Slightly lacking in the graceful web swinging/wall crawling department
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was developed by Beenox and was published by Activision for the Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC, and Nintendo DS. The game released in the United States on the September 7th, 2010. The copy used in this review was for the Xbox 360 and given to us by Activision. It was played til completion (about 20 hours) on Normal Mode.