Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Let’s be honest, following the videogame adaptations of the first two Spider-Man movies in the early 2000’s, Activision was simply unable to put out a “great” Spider-Man game. Spider-Man 3, Ultimate Spider-Man, Friend or Foe and most recently Web of Shadows…it became apparent that like our friendly neighborhood webslinger was losing his mojo with every entry. With the exception of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games and X-Men: Wolverine Origins, video games based on comic books have, for the most part, failed to secure a place in gamers libraries. With Rocksteady Studios putting a gold coat on the genre with Arkham Asylum, it seemed like hope for superhero games still existed…until Iron Man 2 showed up.
Beenox knew at least a little something about Spider-Man. Having worked on the most cherished Marvel license early on (the studio ported three of the aforementioned Spidey games to Windows), Activision chose them to work on Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions or what many of us in the industry labelled as “the do-or-die of Spider-Man games”. The final result is more than just great. It has saved Spidey’s video game tenure from an unrecoverable disaster.
With a great number of Spidey comic book references, solid and recognizable voiceovers, a manifest of villains and four distinct wall-crawlers to play with, fans are in for a treat across the thirteen levels offered in Shattered Dimensions, despite a rather unsurprising storyline.
Spider-Man tries to stop Mysterio from stealing The Tablet of Order and Chaos, a powerful artifact capable of giving infinite power to its possessor. During the fight, Spider-Man shatters the tablet into pieces, creating a disturbance into four distinct realities. With the world at stake, Madame Web - one of Spider-Man’s great allies - a powerful psychic and grandmother of ex-Spider Woman Charlotte Witter, calls upon the web-heads from the affected dimensions (Amazing, Ultimate, Noir and 2099) to find the pieces and restore the tablet. Problem is; a villain on each dimension found a piece of the tablet, granting them special powers. In traditional superhero stories, good guys always win. Even before putting the disc on your console tray, you already know that Spidey will win in the end. However, it’s not about what you offer, but how you deliver it. By going with four dimensions, Beenox has the flexibility to offer a unique and exhilarating experience.
By dumping the open-world setting that has given the franchise more troubles than solutions over the years, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions goes back to linearity and an old-school level design; just as Rocksteady Studios did with Arkham Asylum last year. No more potentially complicated exploration. Simply follow the path, battle enemies and beat the bad guy at the end of the level. Rinse and repeat. True, these elements may have lost their appeal over the years, but after seeing so many games going the “open world” route, it feels great to see Peter Parker go back to where it all began without being extremely generic and uninspired. Some levels are simply ingenious, more specifically the Sandman level. At one point, he transforms into a sand tornado and destroys everything. As debris flies around, the only way for you to get across the level is by web zip-lining from one flying piece of debris to another. When not in the exciting boss moments, you’re back at punching your way through enemies. Luckily, the repetitive beat’em-up gameplay is positively supported by a clever level-up system.
As the adventure progresses, in-game challenges (fifteen per level) can be completed in exchange for points. Beat X amount of enemies in a row without dying, collect scattered spider emblems in a given level, complete combos…even the most insignificant thing in the game could earn you some currency. Once you have enough points and challenges completed, character upgrades and combat abilities will become available for purchase and can be used to enhance your four heroes. While the costume unlocks are rather insignificant, the combat/abilities upgrades overall kept me immersed right up until the end.
Each Spider-Man has its own particular power. Amazing has the expected, yet powerful melee and web-attacks. Noir is basically Sam Fisher with spider webs and wall crawling abilities. The 2099 Spidey has a Matrix-style super vision which allows him to dodge attacks in slow-motion. Finally, Ultimate uses his symbiote powers to unleash hell on his enemies. Fun fact, all dimensions have a special viewing power reminiscent Arkham Asylum’s Detective mode. When activated, you can see objectives, paths and items. Talk about inspiration. Alternativly, Spider-Man can enter first person mode while fighting baddies. There’s a moment in the 2099 dimension where Spider-Man is fighting the Hobgoblin in first person view while free-falling. I wasn’t sold until that sequence and while it felt weird at first, I dug it. A lot!
Shattered Dimensions is a fast-paced experience. It does fit at least three of the four protagonists perfectly. Sadly, the camera has difficulties keeping up with the action, whether during the web slinging sequences or simply when wall-crawling in the more constrained levels. Although you won’t notice the latter often - unless in the Noir dimension where it requires some stealth – web slinging becomes a true nuisance during boss fights. It seems like no Spider-Man game will ever get decent camera work. Then again, I’ve seen much worse in other games. However, in combat, the controls are solid and respond extremely well. The upgrade system truly opens up the possibilities of some great moments, especially when outnumbered.
Visually, Shattered Dimensions strikes gold with its mix of vibrant and cel-shaded graphics. While the psychedelic feel of the 2099 dimension made a solid impression, my enjoyment was more towards the Ultimate and Amazing dimensions simply because they were rendered in cel-shading a la Ultimate Spider-Man circa 2005 (remember that one?). As for Noir…well, the character choice felt awkward since its official unveil so no wonder the levels beneath that dimension fell flat, at least to me. I think my earlier Sam Fisher reference made it clear too. There are some small issues with character animations and collision bugs but nothing bad enough to make it worth going in to.
Sound wise, I’ve already mentioned the discernable voice-overs including Neil Patrick Harris (Amazing), Christopher Daniel Barnes (Noir), Josh Keaton (Ultimate), Dan Gilvezan (2099) and of course Stan Lee (as the Narrator), but the game’s score needs to be praised. It may not be as emotionally immersive as a score composed by Marty O’Donnell or Jesper Kyd but James Dooley (who also composed Sucker Punch’s inFamous…see the correlation?) did a great job at making Shattered Dimensions sound “amazing” just like our friendly neighborhood webhead.
Being their “first true big project”, Beenox successfully pulled off what seemed to be an impossible task for many of us within the game industry. With Shattered Dimensions, Beenox stays true to the colourful and adventuring character of Spider-Man and propels him back into the spotlight.
+ Voice-overs and score
+ Clever level design
+ Solid controls
+ Combat/ability upgrades implementation...
- Camera can be a pain
- Noir dimension isn’t very fun to play
- Minor issues with animations and collision
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Release Date : 2010/09/07
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Beenox Studios
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10