For years games starring superheroes were kind of a joke, hardly giving the player an adequate experience to live up to the hype of the character. Then Batman: Arkham Asylum came along and showed how it should be done. While Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions might not live up to the Caped Crusader’s game, it is still far above most of what has come before.
When Spider-man runs into Mysterio in a museum they commit a big no-no by knocking over one of the displays, shattering the object. Though everything in the room is priceless, this object happens to have a little more to it. Known as the Tablet of Order and Chaos, this tablet is connected to keeping the order of the universe in concern to time, spaces, dimensions, and all that jazz. Now, in order to restore order Spider-man must search out the different pieces and put them back together again, or else the world’s destruction is far more imminent than expected.
This is where the games interesting concept comes in. In order to collect the pieces that have scattered throughout the dimensions four different Spider-men must work together, each with their own skill sets and environments that affect the designs of the levels and style of the gameplay. Amazing Spider-man is closest to what is most thought of when Spider-man comes to mind. He is agile, strong in combat (especially when the player unlocks more combos), and is great at web slinging. The look of this world is also closest to comic book animation in that it emphasizes strong outlines and cell shading. Ultimate Spider-man is the closest evolution to Amazing in look, but loses the graininess and replaces it with brighter colors. The biggest bonus here is the use of the black suit, giving Spider-man bursts of uncontained power that literally lashes out as tendrils from his body. Plus, this time around Peter isn’t affected by the suits power, so there is no need to worry about emo hair or Parker breaking into a tango to make Mary Jane jealous. Just pure fun here.
Branching further out, the 2099 universe moves into the future, and this time around Spider-man has learned to briefly slow down time to give him the edge against his attackers. Not only that, but now Spider-man has evolved to better suit the atmospheric heights of the vibrant city’s buildings, adding in some welcome free falls and aerial combat to add yet another aspect to the grounded fighting. With that said, the most drastic change to the game comes with the Noir universe. Taking cues from Splinter Cell: Conviction, this dimension is separated from the others by its use of stealth, shadows, and black and white to muted colors to indicate if Spider-man is hidden from view. All four considered, no matter what universe becomes preferred to the player, they all provide fun gameplay while they last (which they will since each level can be as long as 50 minutes).
Even though each universe brings something different to the gameplay, the game falters because of the repetitive structure of the levels. The set up is simple, with one familiar villain for Spider-man to chase down, fighting goons, creatures, or what have you until actually coming head to head in a mini boss battle somewhere in between the beginning and final boss battle to end the level. With that said, the boss battles make the waves of other punching bags worth the repetition because they are truly fun experiences that remain easy enough to figure out how to best them without resorting to hunting down answers on the Internet.
With that said, what makes this game truly shine is the fidelity to the lighthearted nature of Spider-man. Even in the noir universe his sense of humor and talent for verbal jabs always shines through, especially in the beautifully animated cutscenes. Not only that, but this sense of fun is also represented in the familiar villains, including the equally entertaining Deadpool. Spider-man’s dialog jabs get well worn during the gameplay, but there is still a sense of “Yeah! You tell ’em, Spidey!” during these times.
Though Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions might fall a little short because of a few flaws (including some awkward climbing and aggravating work from a camera with a mind of its own) the gameplay and spirit of the different Spider-man universes makes this a fun game to further progress the strength of the superhero game genre.
Final Grade: 7.5/10