PREVIEW: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

Amidst the hustle and bustle of WonderCon, the iFanboy crew found time to sneak out of the Moscone Center and headed across the street to the ultra-swank W Hotel. It was here, in the Fantastic Suite, that we were given a sneak preview of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, the newest Spider-Man video game from Activision. Leading us through the newest digital adventure of the ‘ol Web-head were Activision Executive Producer Meghan Morgan and developer Beenox’s Creative Director, Thomas Wilson.

At the start of Shattered Dimensions, a MacGuffin known only as the "Tablet of Order and Chaos" is shattered for as of yet unknown reasons. The pieces of the Tablet are scattered across four unique universes, with each piece falling into the hands of a Spider-Man villain. Of course, the Spider-Men of each universe sense something is amiss. This leaves it up to the player to control each Spider-Man as they battle through their respective rouge's gallery to reassemble the Tablet and restore order to the multiverse. Spidey-scribe Dan Slott is handling scripting duties for the game, which gives me great hope for some witty dialog during the action.

In fact I'm really excited because Dan Slott is responsible for getting me back into the regular Spider-Man books after a long hiatus. Spider-Man was the first superhero I really got into, and I’ve followed him religiously since I was a kid. But I’ve stopped reading Spider-Man books on two occasions. The first time was during the Clone Saga when it was revealed that Ben Reily was the real Peter Parker, and my beloved hero I’d been reading since the fourth grade was actually a clone. I rode my BMX to my local comic shop that day and canceled all my books, only to return when J. Michael Staczynski and John Romita Jr. began their run on Amazing Spider-Man. I stopped for the second time after the "Sin’s Past" story line, I just couldn’t accept that Gwen Stacy would have a one-night stand with Norman Osborn and have his kids. Enter Brand New Day, and suddenly my friends were telling me that Spider-Man was good again! So I borrowed a massive run of Brand New Day from a friend, and was amazed by how well Dan Slott wrote Spider-Man. Learning that Slott is handling scripting duties on Shattered Dimensions makes me excited to explore the story.

But back to the game! From what we were told in the presentation, there is an overarching story that ties all the universes together, but each Spider-Man will also have their own unique arc in their respective universe. As for gameplay, gone is the free-roaming swing-anywhere sandbox style from the previous Spider-Man titles. Instead, Shattered Dimensions offers a level-structure system, allowing the player to choose which universe they wish to play through. Each level features a unique villain at the end, with the level design suited to that particular bad guy. Combat controls are universal for each Spider-Man, but each Spider-Man also has a unique mechanic suited to his universe. Defeating enemies earns Spider-Man experience points (called “Spider-Essence” in the game) that can be used to purchase new moves and attacks. Purchased moves will be available to all four Spider-Man, but tailored to their world’s gameplay. The infamous Spider-Sense factors into gameplay as well: when you see the tell tale lines appear above Spidey’s head, it means it’s time to execute a takedown move.

The first level shown in the demo was jungle-themed and from the Amazing Spider-Man universe. Here, Peter is tasked with tracking down Kraven the Hunter for a piece of the Tablet. In Amazing, the gameplay focus is on web-based combat. Spidey easily jumped from enemy to enemy, utilizing his webbing to lasso bad guys or form giant web hammers to swat enemies away. After the quick combat demonstration, the preview moved onto a boss battle with Kraven. Here, one of the unique gameplay features of Shattered Dimensions was shown off for the first time: first-person combat.

During some boss battles in Shattered Dimensions, the perspective will switch from a third-person camera to inside Spider-Man’s head. Creative Director Thomas Wilson went on to explain that giving players the chance to beat-up classic Spidey villains up-close and personal would be a greatly satisfying experience. In these sections, the player will be able to control Spidey’s fists using the two control sticks in a Punch-Out!! style control scheme. Unique dialog is being written for these first-person segments, adding that extra touch of witty banter Spider-Man is known for. Whether these sections will actually be fun to play, however, remains to be seen. The first person sequence really seemed to slow the action of the game down, as Spider-Man is locked into place and couldn’t move around. Since this was a hands-off demo, I’ll withhold judgment until I can see for myself how it effects gameplay.

Next up in the demo was the Spider-Man Noir Universe, where the first thing you’ll notice is the world’s distinct visual style. In the game, Noir Spider-Man ditches the sweater/trenchcoat costume from the comic in favor of an awesome Rocketeer-style jacket (evidently, the trenchcoat didn’t work for gameplay reasons). The level we were shown was set outside of a warehouse, where the only only illumination came from the occasional street lamp and from enemy flashlights. Stealth is the name of the game in the Noir Universe, direct combat is a little more difficult here so it’s best for players to take the “Predator approach”; keeping Spider-Man in the shadows and taking down enemies without being noticed. Our demo driver had Spider-Man crawl amongst the shipping containers, eventually perching on top of a lamppost, waiting for a nearby lackey on patrol to wander underneath. When the enemy came in range, the tell tale Spider-Sense lines appeared above Spidey’s head, signaling the player to execute a takedown move. Similar to Batman: Arkham Asylum, Spidey dropped from lamppost on a webline, leaving the enemy swinging in the wind trapped inside a cocoon of webbing. Normally I’d be suspicious of stealth gameplay thrown into an action title, as it’s rarely well executed compared to the beat-em-up style gameplay, but Noir makes it look like a blast to stalk your enemies.

The boss shown for the Noir Universe was Hammerhead, chosen because his appearance already fit the visual style. Developers Deenox had to get special permission from Marvel to use Hammerhead, as he hadn’t appeared in either of the two Spider-Man Noir mini-series.

Our hosts during the demo were tight lipped about other aspects of the game, but did reveal some clues as to what else is in store for Shattered Dimensions. Each of the four Spider-Men will have their own unique voice actor, all of whom have voiced Spider-Man before. The only actor revealed so far is Christopher Daniel Barnes, who played Spider-Man in the 90s Fox cartoon series and will be voicing Noir Spider-Man.

When asked about guest appearances from other Marvel characters, we were told “no comment.” I think it’s a safe bet that at least a couple Marvel heroes will make an appearance. In what universe and context, however, is pure speculation.

And now the question remains: what are the other two Spider-Man universe? The Shattered Dimensions team wasn’t ready to reveal that bit of juicy info just yet, but they did reveal what their criteria were for selecting the right Spider-Men for the job: How distinct is the world, and how will that world lend itself to unique and fun gameplay?

With that question in mind, let the speculation begin! Hit the comments section and let us know what you think the next two universes will be. What do you want to see?

Me, I’m holding out for Spider-Man 2099 and Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham.

 

Links:

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Official Site
 


Josh Richardson has worked in the video game industry and is a comic and video game junkie who’s always on the lookout for his next fix. You can follow his exploits on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Awesome article, It’s gonna be cool to get some gamer goodness right along with our regular comic awesomeness. And I say ditto on Peter Porker!

  2. please please please give me Spider-Man 2099

  3. As far as Spidey universes, 2099 and 1602 would provide the most unique experiences.

  4. As much as I want 2099 and 1602, I doubt that will be.

    Gamestop had an image for their preorder of Cosmic versions of all the spideys and none of them look very 1602-y http://bulk2.destructoid.com/ul/169487-cosmicspidey.jpg

  5. Man I want to be excited about this game, but I’ve been burned one to many times by Activision! 🙁

  6. I think Spider-Man 2099 is the strongest possibility for one of them, but I’m not sure about the other. You know what would be badass? A Spider-Man MAX universe! I mean it’s highly unlikely that they’d do it since the game would get an M rating, but it’s a neat idea.

  7. I’m curious, but I think that Punch Out section is not the most appealing idea for Spidey. I have never read the Noir books, so I’m going to need to find out what the other dimensions are before I get excited. 

    I also want to add that I think Josh Richardson is Josh and Ron’s love child… just saying.

  8. I was a huge fan of the free-roaming style of the earlier games (specifically Spider-Man 2 on the GameCube) not sure how I feel about them dropping that but I’ll reserve judgement until I play the game.

    …also is it just me or is "Spider-Essence" a horrible term.

  9. SM 2099 had the coolest costume. That was a pretty good comic book from what I remember about it.

  10. @VampJoe Maybe not 1602, but the last Spider-Man in that line-up looks like 2099! Check the details on the forearms.

     @DDevil1964 Spider-Man 2 is easily my favorite Spidey game. The swing controls were near perfect, which no Spider-Man game to date has recreated.

  11. Based on this preview, this seems a lot like Arkham Asylum.  Which isn’t a bad thing at all; I just hope it’s more than an imitation.

  12. I’m not a gamer at all but the Spider-Man Noir universe stuff we saw at the presentation looked *fantastic.*

  13. Spider-Man: India is the only other universe i can think of that would have enough of a different feel, besides 1602 and 2099

  14. PymSlap PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    Zombie-Spider-Man? lol

  15. @joshrichardson Yea I’m pulling for a 2099 world.

    I just can’t think of any other world that would really feel different from Amazing, I thought i read somewhere that Amazing is the old school Amazing not current, and if that is true then perhaps Ultimate.

  16. @VampJoe: Do you think there is enough difference between Amazing and Ultimate in terms of visuals and gameplay?

  17. Please no Spider-Man India.  One of the worst Spidey comics I ever read.

  18. Give me Zombie Spider-Man!

    Great idea for a game though. Stretching the boundaries for telling a somewhat original story for a video game. Noir Spider-Man might be a game in itself. Although not pleased about Slott taking the writing duties….Not a fan of his work on ASM. 

  19. @KickAss You realize that they would just take the costume and setting right? Even if they did that universe it wouldn’t be like playing through the actual comic. Chill out man.

  20. The Spider-man games produced sine 2000 have been very fun indeed. Activision’s 2000 Spiderman game for N65, Playstation, etc was excellent. I hope one of these multi-verse features Stan Lee Narration.

  21. I will definitely try this game out, but I don’t have really high hopes for it. But maybe it will surprise me like Arkham Asylum did last year.

    I think that the 2099 Spider-Man is almost a no-brainer for them, but I’m not sure what the 4th one would be. I’d hope for either Spider-Ham or Zombie Spider-Man, but it might be difficult to make the Zombie Spider-Man into a hero for the story. 1602 might be the route they end up going. I don’t think Utimate would be a good fit, I think it would feel too much like the normal Amazing Spider-Man to really set itself apart. 

  22. My favorite Spider-man game ever is Ultimate Spider-man. freaking loved that game. Makes me wish for an ultimate spiderman cartoon really bad

  23. I want to see a Batman: Arkham Asylum level of quality Spider-man game. For me, Arkham Asylum is the current standard bearer for comic book video games.

  24. @conor I think they could have it be more cartoony for Ultimate and more realistic for Amazing, should they do it, there is a good bit of difference between say the Spiderman movie games and the Ultimate Spiderman game.

    But Ultimate would definately not be my first choice for the last world.  Personally I’m still pulling for 1602.

  25. Also I think Zombie Spiderman would be either really fun or completely broken.  He’d either just act like a slower version of Amazing or be over-powered by Silver surfer meat.

    It has to be 1602 or Ultimate

  26. A: This is weird, I can no longer look at the first name and see ‘Josh’ and know whose it is straight away

    B: Nice article

    C: I’m gunning for Ultimate and 2099 Spider-man

  27. C.5: Like many other’s here, I agree that Zombie Spider-man WOULD be awesome thou 🙂

  28. at least its not being made by eidos and rocksteady so it has a chance of being good.

  29. @USPUNX

    Huh? Arkham Asylum is like The Dark Knight of mainstream superhero videogames. 

  30. Think they’d do Spider-Girl? What about Spider-Armor? House of M Spider-Man? Iron-Spider? So many possibilities! As dumb as it might be I can see how Zombie Spider-Man might have some… unique gameplay elements. "Spider-sense detects BRAINS!!"

  31. @Haupt How is that saying NOT on a T-shirt yet!?!

  32. @nawida: i do not agree. i thought AA had great graphics but the gameplay mechanics were boring.

  33. @LukeB @Haupt I thought about the Zombie universe being a possibility too, but Peter isn’t much of a good guy in that series. Plus, could Activision do the Zombie universe and still release the game with a T-Rating?

    Ultimate is another viable possibility, but as others have mentioned, Ultimate wouldn’t be too visual different from Amazing. 

    I’d like a Ditko-style 60s Spider-Man themed world, too!