Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions opens with the web-slinger attempting to stop Mysterio from stealing an ancient artifact known as the Tablet of Order and Chaos from the Empire State University Museum. Things don't quite go according to plan for either party, and the artifact is shattered in the process and its pieces fall into parallel universes. The artifact pieces bestow great power on whomever holds them, and inevitably it's the bad guys in each dimension that get a hold of them first. Madame Web appears to offer her assistance to Spider-Man since she can track the location of the artifacts into the four dimensions into which they have fallen. As it happens, each one of the three additional dimensions is also populated by its own version of Spider-Man, and naturally they all volunteer to help retrieve the pieces. This premise gives you the opportunity to play as four different incarnations of Spider-Man - Noir, Amazing, Ultimate, and 2099 - in levels that alternate between the four dimensions. Each Spider-Man has a unique set of abilities and his own style (although they do all share the same predication for snappy one-liners), and each of the dimensions has its own unique graphical style. The result is one of the more interesting super hero games to come along in a while, and one that's a lot of fun to play as well.

Rather than giving you an open world to swing around in going wherever you'd like as in some past Spider-Man games, Shattered Dimensions opts for a more linear approach to its levels and predetermined context-sensitive points where you're allowed to jump, crawl, or stick your web to. It probably sounds rather limited, and in some sense it is, but it actually makes Spider-Man a more nimble hero in the gaming sense. No matter what style of game you're playing, you'll see a spot that you'll want to swing from and send a web its way. In the open world version you might miss, over swing, or under swing, or simply splat yourself against a wall. In Shattered Dimensions your web goes where you want it to go, and it doesn't matter that you can't put it everywhere because you can put it pretty much everywhere that Spider-Man himself would put it. The result is that Spider-Man can swing through the levels gracefully and quickly without a lot of fumbling about and misfires, which is a lot like the “real” Spider-Man would do it. I don't want to give the impression that web-slinging is completely idiot proof, though, because it's certainly possible to misfire or make a poor choice on the next spot to hit. But if your timing is good and you hit a rhythm you'll love the way the game makes you feel like you've got Spidey-like reflexes.

Battling enemies in the game is a lot of fun, and each of the four Spider-Men has his own specialties and arsenal of unique moves. Each starts with a good but limited number of moves that involve both melee and web attacks, but as you defeat enemies and complete the myriad of level-specific bonus challenges in the game you earn spider essence, a currency of sorts used to buy new attacks, combos, counters, and more. Some of these upgrades apply to all four Spider-Men, while some are only available to one in particular such as an upgraded lash attack for Ultimate Spider-Man. As with all superhero games there is a certain amount of repetition involved in bashing the army of goons that populate the levels, but the variety of attacks available, tight and responsive controls, and smooth and fluid attack animation keep things interesting and allow you to mix things up as you play.