REVIEW: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (XBOX 360)

 

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions Logo

It's a typical night out for the Amazing Spider-Man in the 616: Mysterio has broken into a museum in search of a grand mystical artifact, The Tablet of Order and Chaos. With it, Mysterio plans to bend the entire city to his will… but not if Spider-Man has anything to say about it! In the ensuing battle, Spidey accidentally shatters the Tablet, scattering it's pieces across the Marvel multiverse and putting all of existence in danger.

Oops!

But faster then you can say "Thwip", Madame Web appears to set Peter on his path to set things right. The Tablet fragments have fallen into three other worlds, and Madame Web has tapped the Spider-Men of these dimensions to help out. And so, True Believer, it's up to the Amazing, Noir, Ultimate, and 2099 wallcrawlers (and you, of course) to save the universe in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.

Developed by Beenox and published by Activision, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions departs from the free-roaming formula used in Spider-Man games for nearly the last decade. Instead, the game is reminiscent of the Neversoft developed PSOne titles of the late 90s, favoring story driven gameplay and a linear level structure. Not including the tutorial or the final mission, Shattered Dimensions is structured into three acts of four levels each, one for each Spider-Man, alowing the player some freedom in how the story progresses. Each level is themed after a particular villian, who has, naturally, aquired a piece of the Tablet to use for their own nefarious purposes. On the whole, I really enjoyed the missions structure, as I never really felt like I was stuck too long with one particular webslinger, and all are a relative joy to control.

Combat in Shattered Dimensions is pretty typical third-person brawler fare, and anyone who's played a God of War-style game will feel right at home. Light and heavy attacks can be chained together with grabs, arial combos, and webslinging powers to dispatch your foes in creative ways. Defeating enemies, completing challenges (basically 180 micro-achievments) and collecting Spider-Tokens will reward you with "Spider-Essence", serving as the game's currency allowing you to buy more combos, attacks, costumes, and character upgrades. These points carry across all four dimensions, and most of the upgrades apply to all four characters, although some are reserved for a particular Parker. Luckily not all Spider-Men are created equal, and each dimension offers it's own unique gameplay twist and visual style.

The Amazing Spider-Man (voiced by Neal Patrick Harris of the early 2000s Spidey cartoon) is our modern hero as we know him today. The visuals have almost a John Romita Jr. quality to them, with light cell shading for a more realistic style. In this dimension, the focus is on web-based combat. Most of this Spider-Man's combo attacks involve some creative use of web juice, such as blinding enemies or smacking down fools with massive web-hammers. He's the most vanilla of the four, just your basic Spider-Man action here. 'Nuff Said.

Spider-Man Noir (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes of the 90s Fox cartoon) was probably my favorite dimension to play. Did you enjoy Batman: Arkham Asylum? Because Noir is basically all the Gargoyle sections of Batman with a few wall-crawling twists. The Noir Spider-Man must hide in the shadows and use stealth to take down his enemies, because direct combat with machine gun goons is a really bad idea. But Spidey isn't restricted to just hanging bad guy cocoons off a perch, the player can stalk enemies while crawling along the walls or sneaking up from behind on the ground… a quick press of the grab button initiating a series of superbly animated take-downs.This universe also offers some of the most unique and gorgeous visuals I've seen in a game this year. While in the shadows, the color washes out of the world, and Spider-Man becomes encased in gray outlines. In the light, the game achieves this sepia-toned noir perfection that looks precisely like the comic it's based on.

Spider-Man 2099 (voiced by Dan Gilvezan of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends) was the universe I wished for the most when the game was initially announced. Yes, I know I'm a Spider-Ham freak, but I had to be realistic here. The focus here is on vertical combat, with 2099 featuring several sections where you'll be hurtling down miles-high skyscrapers and breakneck speeds, dodging Fifth Element-style flying cars and trying to beat up villains while you're at it. 2099 is also one of two Spider-Man to have an extra power bestowed on them by Madame Web, Accelerated Vision. This bullet-time effect slows down all of your enemies, allowing Spidey to dodge homing missiles or dance around hulking mechs trying to take him down. Visually, I can't praise Beenox enough for fully realizing the Tron-esque neon world of 2099 in ways I never thought I'd see. Everything is bright, shiny, new, just as the future should be.

And finally, Ultimate Spider Man (voiced by Josh Keaton of the latest animated series, Spectacular Spider-Man) sees Peter Parker once again encased in the black smybiote suit… but don't worry, Madame Web has used her psychic powers to repress the whole "trying to take over your mind" thing. Featuring the second unique power, Ultimate Spidey can activate "Rage Mode" and unleash the full powers of the suit. Focus in this universe is strictly on pummeling as many enemies as possible, as hard as possible, with deeply satisfying results. The graphics in this universe take an extreme cell-shaded look, much less subtle the the Amazing universe, to achieve a visual style very similar to Mark Bagley's style on the series.

Great gameplay and graphics aside, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is one massive fanservice package. In-jokes are everywhere, ranging from billboards, radio chatter, or even in the witty banter (Deadpool shows up and spends a good chunk of time ragging on various storylines from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics), the winks and nods don't stop coming. Even my beloved Peter Porker is referenced within the first few minutes of the opening cutscene.

With current spider-scribe Dan Slott lending a hand on writing duties, Shattered Dimensions manages to weave a story worthy of the webhead. None of the dialog feels out of place, each Spider-Man feels like a unique character and quips just the way you expect them to. Especially if you're a long time Spider-freak, you'll be constantly laughing and smiling throughout the game.

Shattered Dimensions is not without it's faults, however. True to many Activision games these days, Spider-Man is a bit (forgive the pun) buggy. Through my 11 hours with the game I experience a few crashes, Spider-Man falling out of the world, enemies getting stuck on geography, and dialog lines that repeated themselves constantly. These bugs don't occur all the time, but enough that you'll notice. Thankfully the checkpoint system is very forgiving, so if you do encounter a crash you won't loose too much progress. The camera also leaves a lot to be desired, sometimes constantly shifting perspective while you're trying to climb on wall or swing to a small faraway ledge containing a Spider-Token.

But none of these issues change the fact that Shattered Dimensions is the best Spider-Man game in ages. I'd say the best since Spider-Man 2 dropped in 2004. The gameplay, graphics, and writing all make for a deeply satisfying Spider-Man experience, and the game is so full of fanservice, unlockables, and in-game challenges that you'll still be playing it long after you've completed your first run-through. If you're looking for a new super-hero game fix, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions can't be beat.

Oh, when you beat the game make sure you keep watching after the credits. Or, you know, spoil the surprise for yourself here.

Graphics: 4 Stars / Gameplay: 4 Stars / Overall: 4 Stars

Playthrough Statistics: Completed on Normal Difficulty. First Full Playthrough: 9 hours. Earned 31/42 Achievements for a total of 570/100 Gamer Points. Unlocked 8/12 bonus costumes. A copy of the game was rented through GameFly for review.

 


Josh Richardson is the resident iFanboy video game guru. He's always rambling about games and comics over on Twitter.
 

Comments

  1. COOL

  2. i just obtained the 180th challenge, unlocking my favorite incarnation of spider-man, THE Scarlet Spider. I’m pumped. Fantastic game. Got it for PS3 though.

  3. I love that the different versions of Spidey are voiced by the men who voiced him in the various Spider-Man cartoon series.

  4. "Ultimate Spider-Man video game" will always be the "Best" Spider-Man video game.  Nothing puts you into the excellent story of a comic series like that game.

    But this one is excellent, I’ve rented it already.  😉

  5. PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    Nice review. The D.B. would be proud!

  6. I wish the game was a bit longer. Beenox did an awesome job though.

  7. Haven’t played it yet but from the trailer the Noir sections looked absolutely gorgeous.

  8. I’d better get it now before screwattack does an "out of the box" and ruins it for me with their disdain for anything fun.

  9. FYI you anyone can unlock the scartlet spider, negative zone and scarlet spider right out of the box.  The unlock code is basically an old school nintendo left right up down type code. 

     

    From the main menu screen:

    Unlock Iron Spider Costume (2099 Levels):
    Up, Right, Right, Right, Left, Left, Left, Down, Up

    Unlock Scarlet Spider Costume:
    Right, Up, Left, Right, Up, Left, Right, Up, Left, Right

    Unlock Negative Zone Suit (Noir Levels):
    Left, Right, Right, Down, Right, Down, Up, Left

  10. I really need to play this. Like really soon.

  11. must kill someone who has it ! And download it to the internet > freeing the minds of the youth one way or another > pulse it sounds like a really good game > 

     

  12. I had high hopes for this, but it’s really buggy and unpolished.  Some great ideas, but generally poor execution and Mysterio as the big bad?  Some great fanservice in there, loved the 2099 bits.  

     

      Big suprise, Activision pushed this one out the door too early.

      

  13. @scrawl: they own blizzard. What else did you expect from the elitest corp?