Game Review: Spider-man Shattered Dimensions
Release: 7th September (NA), 10th September (EU)
Genre: Hack and slash, beat-em-up, action, adventure
Developer: Beenox Studios
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, NDS
ESRB Rating: T
For too long has the Dark Knight reigned upon the comic book videogame world. Actually it’s only been a year and a bit, but still, no king in this world can stay on the throne for so long. Shattered Dimensions on paper sounds like the very perfect Spider-man game. Spider-man is a character without limits and the multiple interpretations of the character sounds absolutely pitch perfect for Spidey. I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long, long time and I wouldn’t want to spoil my opinion at the get go but… it’s hit and miss to be quite frank.
Shattered Dimensions‘ plot is rather thing in that there really isn’t any string of plot to follow. There’s catchphrases, bad writing and bad jokes. The excuse of having four Spider-mins could’ve been more interesting but instead here’s the jist; Mysterio tries to steal a magical tablet and Spider-man breaks it by punching it in its stone face. Fragments are scattered throughout the dimensions and Madame Web recruits one of the four Spider-men to find and complete the tablet. The universe are 2099 (Spider-man of the possibly future), Noir (Spider-man of the 1930s), Amazing (the classic Spidey) and Ultimate (In which he has the symbiote costume has been attached to Spidey).
The game takes a few key elements of past Spider-man games such as what we really just want to play Spider-man for; web-slinging. You can now a la Arkham Asylum sling quickly from post to post or place to place by tapping the right trigger. Combat is on centre-stage which is very intriguing given that the combat of past Spider-man games could be described as frustrating and downright broken. There’s a mixture of other elements but they usually repeat themselves or are level specific such as acid eggs. There are also hundreds of collectables throughout the game which reward the player with spider essence that Spidey can upgrade himself with.
The good news here is that it attempts to encapsulate the comic book lore. The loading screens have hints and drips about Spider-man’s past and present history. The four art styles are all very welcome and each give a distinctive flavour on the aesthetics side. The villains are all designed well, except for a few exceptions, and the good parts of Shattered Dimensions are some of the most well-designed levels I’ve ever seen. There are ‘web of destiny’ challenges for each level (such as make five enemies hit each other) which will have you coming back for more. It’s already a meaty experience at over ten hours. Since the levels are all based around key villains of the lore it’s very easy to settle into the game and hold the same grudge that Spider-man does. I can sometimes spot great influences from other games, the Electro level of Ultimate has the epic scale of God of War III.
The bad news is that it just feels uninspired. Gameplay wise it totally falls apart. For instance, the combat of 2099 Spider-man is all the bells and whistles of Amazing PLUS a slow-motion mode. The combat of the Ultimate Spider-man has the same combat of Amazing PLUS a Rage mode. It feels like some character have been over-thought or their key distinctions haven’t been done very well. Amazing Spider-man is supposed to utilise web-combat but all I ever seem to be doing is landing punches. The Noir universe is very disappointing to, it’s based around Stealth, the ‘hiding in the shadows’ gameplay just doesn’t work one bit. The screen desaturates when you’re hidden, but the world is already stark monochrome so it’s very hard to see; which is vital in any stealth game.
On top of all this the game derives to that most painful of all critiques; repetition. Once again, Spidey has faced the wrath of another game that ceases to break a chain once it gets into one. Square, square, square, square. The combat gets very repetitive very quickly, and the mix-up of universes doesn’t help at all because the gameplay really isn’t that varied between them. The only wake-up call is the Noir universe which is actually broken, it’s a big shame given that Spidey has tried to escape the clutches of his past problems for tens of games now. What strikes me odd too is the fact that web-slinging takes a back seat. I wanted to play Arkham Asylum to play Batman; to be a stealth ninja. I do not want to play Spider-man to punch people in the face; putting a non-linear suited mechanic in a linear title just doesn’t make any sense.
To add to the heap of repeating problems there’s the same ‘grab civilians and put them somewhere else’ and the camera is finicky as ever. I also have to make a point about the writing and voice acting. When a villain says “I am now more powerful than before!” you can tell this isn’t exactly a Great Gatsby, it gets very grating at times. That and Madame Web will repeat the same advice over and over while you’re actually doing what she asks. You don’t know how frustrating it truly gets when you’re throwing barrels at a guy and she’s telling you every five seconds to do just that. The four voice actors of Spidey will repeat lines and annoying catchphrases endlessly to add insult to injury. It’s all a very grating and unrewarding experience when it comes to story progression.
Nath’s final say: I’m not entirely disappointed in Shattered Dimensions, even if it didn’t manage to ‘pull an Arkham’ so to speak. The high points are very high but the low points drag it down to barely above mediocre. It does somewhat capture the character but not the bare basic essence of what it is to be Spider-man. The narration by Stan Lee is a true highlight but I don’t feel like this is one shelling out sixty bucks for, a rent at the most or wait until it drops in price. I didn’t want to say this but Spider-Man 2 The Movie Game is superior to Beenox’s effort. Sorry guys, I know you’re more than capable of hitting the web-slinger’s finest adventure, just a little care is needed to bolster this from a ‘above average’ experience to a ‘great experience’. It’s enjoyable, that’s all I can say, but it’s not memorable.