[Games That Nobody Plays Anymore is a weekly series written by Nathan Hardisty with a little title card help from Juan Houter. It’s an on-going series about the forgotten games of yesteryear, and doesn’t totally reflect the title. Remember; nobody stops playing these games; it’s just a title. Don’t make something of it or I will come down to your house and ask you politely to stop. If you have any suggestions for future titles to ‘GTNPA’ don’t forget to leave me a comment!]
Shattered Dimensions is alright. It doesn’t exactly give a fully enjoyable experience and it fails in many areas that Arkham Asylum managed to pull off without a hitch. A part of me blames the T rating of the game, obviously intended by Activision, because it restricts the themes that the game can have. Otherwise, I completely blame Beenox for not having enough focus or drive throughout the project. Arkham Asylum captured not just the essence of the Batman universe, which Shattered Dimensions did with Spider-man, but also put you directly in control of the character. You felt like Batman, but in Shattered Dimensions you feel like a nobody. This is where Spider-man 2 The Game succeeds.
The game is set around the film, so I’m not going to bother explaining anything really. I personally think the sequel is better than the original in every respect, not just because the amazingly talented Alfred Molina plays Doc Ock. It feels grander opus and more well written, that and there is character development throughout the entire feature which feels earned. The game portrays the film in that it has a very loose connection, which is great given that all games based on films should portray the character/universe while still filling in the blanks without going overboard. You know what I mean, the bad movie games which have “Play scenes never seen in cinemas!”
The game puts you in the shoes of Spider-man by using a similar technique that Rocksteady Studios did with Batman. What makes Batman the batsy chap he is? He’s a stalker, edging on insanity and has the superpower of being rich. So naturally Rocksteady gave the player all the tools he needs to become the stealth ninja and acquired all the glorious gadgets that the dear Dark Knight holds dear. With Spider-man it’s much harder since he isn’t blessed with the ability of having a massive bank balance. I sometimes just like to say ‘Parker’ instead of ‘Spider-man’, and it’s always fun to compare both Parker and Bats.
Both of them went through traumatic experiences and emerged to try and tackle the criminal world. Batman, if you read between the lines, has practically gone insane out of his desire for justice. Parker however has always held human assets at heart and sometimes lets them get in the way of things. It’s the reason why he doesn’t bone Mary Jane at first in the films, because he’s sure they’ll come after her if his identity is compromised. Given all of this human weight it’s good to see Treyarch use this to their advantage; they do a similar thing that Arkham Asylum does and give Spider-man 2 The Game a level of progression weaved into it.
Every action you do, every collectible, every thug beaten, every hidden crannie, every mission finished, every act done all adds into your big XP wallet that can be spent on abilities. There are numerous levels of web slinging, we’ll get to that later, and since the game doesn’t follow the film it allows for mix-up. There are little annoyances such as the combat in general, Tobey Maquire’s voice acting and all sorts of little bugs (see what I did there?) but otherwise it’s the sense of progression that keeps you coming back. Whenever you finish an art the screen freezes and pops up with titles and your XP gained. It feels like a Arkham Asylum trapped inside of a really good game.
We’re here for the web-slinging, and as I described before, whenever you’re making a pop culture character game you need to identify what makes him so popular. In the case of Spider-man, everybody wants to be like him and swing around New York City. It is downright brilliant design and mechanics engineering, in terms of web-slinging, because you always feel in control and in the character. The abilities, upgrades and multi-layered progression of the web slinging abilities are a game on their own and it’s great that Treyarch built most of the game around this key principle. Something which Beenox needs to take note of….
Next… tomorrow: God of War 2