Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Review
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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

It must be challenging to design a superhero game. After all, the hero is always overpowered and nothing can stop him/ her/ it, yet there has to be a credible opponent for the protagonist to overcome. This is where new Spider-Man developers Beenox enter the scene, taking fourteen of the arachnid’s most memorable foes and pitting four different versions of the wall-crawler against them.

To give credit to Beenox, they’ve managed to pull out all the stops in rummaging through the Marvel comics archives. All four versions (Amazing, Ultimate, Noir and 2099) of Spider-Man are all fully fleshed-out, with their different personalities and issues present and correct. Not only that, but each dimension has its own unique visual style, from the gritty black tones of Noir to the hyper-colourful future vision of 2099. It’s a shame that everything feels exactly the same to play.

It starts out as a fun and campy adventure, with Spider-Man and regular running joke villain Mysterio accidentally destroying the sacred Tablet of Order and Chaos that holds all the worlds together. The pieces then fragments throughout the dimensions, only to be picked up by – and supercharge – the various villains within those worlds. The Spider-Men, guided by the mystical Madam Web, must confront their deadliest enemies in order to save not just their world, but all worlds.

Perhaps the best part about the game is that Beenox have worked hard to avoid repeating boss encounters from previous titles. A classic villain who has already appeared in a Spider-Man game is either ignored or presented in an alternative universe. This means that players get to enjoy fighting the more interesting Noir Goblin, or 2099 Doctor Octopus. Even usual gaming staple Venom is sidelined for the much more interesting Ultimate Carnage.

However, that’s about all the fun you’re likely to have with Shattered Dimensions. The game has one enormous, unavoidable and depressing game-ruining flaw: it’s very boring. Despite the visual differences and the way each dimension plays, they are nothing more than coats of paint over the same product. Every level sees you pushing forward past groups of goons and thugs who are all the same – small, medium, armoured and large – and doing battle with the boss.

What’s most surprising is that the boss encounters are all extremely similar. Every level sees you going toe-to-toe with the villain twice, once without the fragment powers, once with, and they’re all identical. You wait for them to attack, dodge and then wail on them. Only the Noir levels get you think differently, forcing you to use light and shadow to your advantage.

Of the dimensions, Noir is probably the best as it at least employs a different mechanic. Instead of simply punching people, you have use stealth takedowns and stay hidden. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the other three, where you walk forward and mash the X button. The Ultimate dimension allows you to use the power of the black suit without any consequences and in 2099 you can slow down time to dodge missiles. This means that Amazing, the standard dimension, is actually the most boring and lifeless of the lot.

You have plenty of opportunities to upgrade the Spider-Men, with health, bonus costumes and extra combat moves. However, nearly every enemy in the game can be defeated by simply spamming X, so the ability to do any other attacks is made redundant.

Shattered Dimensions is a bit of a missed opportunity. Despite the obvious love for the lore of Spider-Man and the craft that’s gone into each of the dimensions, the game remains dull, stale and repetitive. Fans of the comics will get a kick out of it, but you’d have to really love Spider-Man to get much out of this.

55%

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