Review: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

John Funk | 23 Sep 2010 09:00
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The more Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions changes, the more it stays the same.

Shattered Dimensions starts off fairly standard for a Marvel game: Villain A (in this case, Mysterio) is up to no good, and Hero B (Spider-Man, of course) shows up to stop them. Unfortunately for Spidey, this time around things get kind of weird: The battle between the two accidentally results in the destruction of a mystic artifact called the Tablet of Order and Chaos, the fragments of which are scattered across the multiverse. If they aren't rescued from the wrong hands, Spidey learns, all of existence is at stake. Whoops.

Thankfully, Spider-Man is on the job. Or rather, that should be Spider-Men. As the name would suggest, Shattered Dimensions takes place in several of the different Marvel realities, with webslingers from alternate universes teaming up to find the fragments before it's too late. All in all, the levels take place in four different dimensions. There's the "Amazing Spider-Man" universe - aka the "real" one - where you'll control the Spidey we all know and love. "Ultimate Spider-Man" is an alternate present with a younger Peter Parker in a Venom-symbiote suit. "Spider-Man 2099" takes place in the future reminiscent of Batman Beyond, and "Spider-Man Noir" is an alternate take on Spider-Man in the 1930s.

While each of the dimensions (and its respective Spidey) has its own visual style, they largely share the same abilities. They all can zip and swing, they all have light and heavy attacks, and other than a special combo or a minor ability here and there - 2099 has a bullet time effect, and Ultimate can go berserk - any differences between them are wholly cosmetic. Sure, the combat is pretty fun in a button-smashing sort of way, and it feels very like Spider-Man - webbing objects and throwing them at people is still as fun as always - but it also never feels like your character is all that different from the others.

The standout, in this case, is Noir. Though he's just as durable as the other three when it comes to melee fights, Noir Spidey gets shredded by bullets - and the levels where you play as him have a heavy emphasis on stealth. You'll need to keep to the shadows, stalking enemies and picking them off one by one with web-takedowns. It's essentially the stealth sections of Batman: Arkham Asylum extended out to full levels, and while they start out entertaining enough - and the black and white color scheme looks fantastic in cel-shading - they run into problems.

Camera and control issues mean that sometimes you'll jump out into the open when you didn't intend (and need to beat a hasty retreat), and it can be difficult to tell when you're concealed and when you're exposed. There's a reason Arkham kept these sections to a single room at a time, too - over the course of an entire level, it starts wearing on you.

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