True Believers, prepare! Our favorite hero is back and he brought a whole world of trouble with him! Actually make that “four worlds”, in Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions.
Released for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Nintendo DS and the Wii, Spiderman not only clobbers evil in four dimensions, but across a large span of gaming consoles. Released on September 10th 2010, Shattered Dimensions set a new bar for future comic based video games, with its awe inspiring graphics, addictive game play and fantastic voice over work. But perhaps, the most useful and well-used aspect of the game derives from an old, yet slightly modified saying – four web heads are better then one!
You heard right web swingers, four times the power, four times the bad punch- lines and four times the evil! Can you say, “My spidey senses are tingling?” Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions’ most talked about feature is the distinctive ability to switch between four different Spiderman dimensions, each armed with his own fighting style, un-lockable content and cheesy comeback lines. So how did this quadruple size mess occur? It all starts with a “man who wears a fish bowl on his head” as quizzically stated by Spiderman.
The story starts off in the Empire State University, where Mysterio (a.k.a, fish bowl head) a master at magic and illusions, is after an ancient artifact – The Tablet of Order and Chaos. Originally wanted for its high price on the black market, Mysterio soon learns that the artifact is beyond any amount of money, as it grants awesome power to whoever possesses it. Through a few minutes of Spiderman’s witty banter and a short fight scene, the tablet gets smashed into several pieces and is scattered across four dimensions. Being evil and having the continual urge to rule the world, Mysterio sets out to collect all the pieces of the broken tablet and use it cause his own version of calamity in the universe. Spiderman, along with the help of his otherworldly selves and Madame Web, set out across each dimension in to set things right again.
In truth, the story is pretty average with no twists or turns that a seasoned player would catch on to hours before it happens. The deepest story elements seem to come from each individual mission, as every boss Spiderman encounters has his or her own side story. The end formula for every mission plot ends the same however, with Spiderman beating the boss and gaining a piece of the Tablet. But what the plot lacks in diversity and depth, Spiderman’s personality makes up for – times four. The script writing for Spiderman’s lines are quick, smart and down right funny. Despite the game being spread across four different worlds, the one thing that stays consistent and I’m glad for, is the humor. There is so much charisma flowing from the characters and their dialogue, that the game could solely be fueled off of this single principle. However, it’s not just the writing itself that creates such memorable characters, it’s also in the great voice acting.
Any true Spiderman fan knows that Spiderman is only as strong as his catch phrases and quick-witted comebacks. The Amazing Spiderman has a never-ending arsenal of quips and each one is delivered with perfect impact by the talents of Neil Patrick Harris. Spiderman 2099, is a beefy character with a much more goofy so-bad-its-good humor, that only someone with skills like Dan Gilvezan could pull of, with his dignity still intact. There is the Ultimate Spiderman, whose wit matches closely to the Amazing Spiderman but holds a slight edge of challenge to it, a perfect match for a man dressed in black, given by Josh Keaton. Lastly, but most definitely not least; is Spiderman Noir. This Spiderman uses pure dark comedy and without the right man-Christopher Daniel Barnes- this character would lack the hair-raising chill Noir’s presence demands. The music is placed well; fast-paced rhythm to a fast paced battle, a creepy symphony to the creepy Carnage and the stealthy whispers of a choir to the stealthy shadow that is Noir. No song in particular really stood out for me though and I was hoping to at least hear the classic Spiderman theme song at some point in the game but overall the music is acceptable.
Being that we are in the twenty first century, graphics in games are no longer demanded, it’s expected. Sadly like many Cell Shaded games-Zelda Wind Waker- Spiderman Shattered Dimensions lost a few fans for taking a step in a different direction. Don’t let the ‘cartoony’ technique of Cell Shade turn you away, as Shattered Dimensions is at par with any other graphic-junky game, just in a different style. Many games like Okami and Shadow of the Colossus are truly amazing and beautiful to look at and their graphics are a huge leap in a different direction than mainstream realism.
The cut scenes were eye pleasing and crisp, but I honestly expected more. Most cut scenes are a sequence of still images that hold for a few seconds with dialogue before changing pictures. I understand that frame-by-frame animation is to give the game a more comic book experience but I can’t help but feel cheated – or maybe they ran out of budget. Dishing out $60 for a current generation video game should earn me the right to see cut scenes fully animated and rendered but I’m sure a hardcore fan of Superheroes and Comic Books may feel different and have their own set of expectations.
Each Spiderman has core skills that expands through all four dimensions such as: web swinging, wall crawling, quick attacks and heavy attacks. However, because there is such a vast difference in game play styles from each dimension, it’s best to break down Spiderman Shattered Dimensions as if it were four separate games.
The Amazing Spiderman: As the Amazing Spiderman, you have the all classic abilities to swing, climb, kick, roll, punch and use your Spidey Sense. During the Amazing Spiderman missions, there is a balance between combat and exploring. This Spiderman has the basic core game play that all other dimensions borrow from.
Spiderman Ultimate: Ultimate is essentially the same style game play as the Amazing Spiderman but with the enhanced abilities of the Black Suit – rage mode. Just like the Amazing Spiderman there is a pretty good balance between combat and exploration.
Spiderman Noir: Noir features the most unique game play and seems to lean closer to the game Splinter Cell or Batman: Arkham Asylum. Noir would be considered the Black Widow of the group, as he isn’t very strong going toe to toe but if given the right opportunity, his sneak attack will land a fatal blow. Noir’s game play is stick to the shadows, avoid fighting, and make quick, silent take-downs. I consider Noir’s missions to be the most enjoyable and rewarding.
Spiderman 2099: If Noir is a Black Widow then 2099 is definitely a Tarantula. 2099 is the strongest of all the Spidermen and his game play is based almost completely on combat with a few falling and dodging bits in between. His style of combat reminds me more of a brainless button masher, broken up with the occasional ability to slow down time.
The overall game play is very easy to pick up and go but I often found enemy battles repetitive. I was also hoping to make more use of Spiderman’s ability to wall crawl but by the time I finished the game I had only done this a few times as it seems unnecessary. The ability to swing almost anywhere is very useful but I never felt like there was any consequence for falling as Spiderman always saves himself. The gameplay is addictive and looks sharp when executed on screen but I felt there should be more of a challenge.
The end of the Shattered Dimensions feels bitter and sweet, as it’s a short game that leaves the player begging for more. Shattered Dimensions gives a fair bit of replay value as there are tons of attacks, ability upgrades and costumes to unlock along with bonus features such as the ability to view unlocked cut scenes and look at the game art. All in all Spiderman Shattered Dimensions was very unique to its past successors but it was just as enjoyable. The addictive and diverse game play along with strongly developed characters, humor and detailed cell shaded graphics makes this a must have for any Spiderman fan.
If you have not played Spiderman Shattered Dimensions yet and held the power for four Spiderman’s at your fingertips, I strongly suggest you do so. But just remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.