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After a run of free-roaming Spider-Man games (Spider-Man 2 & 3, Ultimate Spider-Man), Activision have returned to the more linear style of storytelling for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which takes places in the standard Marvel Universe, with plot duties handled by current Spider-Man comic author, Dan Slott, ensuring plenty of nods towards recent storylines in the books. While Activision are cutting down on the free-roam aspect of previous games, they have expanded the character list by having four different Spider-Men playable in different universes, each with their own trademark power.
We have our typical Amazing Spider-Man, who is the average man of the group with no unique powers beyond his web-spinning and wall-climbing. Most of his adventures take place in the standard Marvel Universe, and feature familiar enemies like Kraven the Hunter, Juggernaut and The Sandman.
Next up is Spider-Man 2099, who is the futuristic version of Spider-man with the added ability to slow down time, in a Matrix-esque fashion. This is extremely effective when fighting shielded foes, or during the high-speed vertical chase scenes. His enemies include future versions of the contemporary Spider-Man's foes, such as Doctor Octopus 2099, Hobgoblin 2099 and Scorpion 2099. Most of these are original to the game, but fit the continuity of the Marvel 2099 universe from the comics.
We also have Ultimate Spider-Man, who is a younger version of Spider-man from a separate comics imprint. This version of Spider-man is the host of the symbiote (aka Venom) and has a Rage-meter, which accrues points as you defeat enemies allowing you to release Rage mode, increasing your power and combo count. His enemies are the Ultimate variations of the usual enemies, with Ultimate Electro, Ultimate Carnage and Ultimate Deadpool making appearances.
Finally we have Spider-Man Noir, which is another alternate version of Peter Parker from a Noir-inspired comics universe. This Spider-man has no powers, save for his web-swinging abilities and relies mainly on stealth to take out his heavily armed-foes. This is the first time that stealth has been a focus in a Spider-Man game, and I must admit it suits the character well. The sneaking in shadows does seem a bit simplistic and it can be frustrating when camera angles contrive against the player to make it impossible to see yourself, let alone any enemies in the area, but the stealthy aspect is strong enough to warrant its own game.
Each character is different enough to make playing through each chapter a fun experience without seeming too samey. The game gives you the option to play through each Spider-man's chapter in any order to complete each act. With four chapters per each of the three acts, and a final chapter featuring the boss, this is quite a long game, with plenty of varied environments and enemy types.
Fans of the comics will enjoy seeing enemies they never expected to see visualised in video-game form, since the usual pool of enemies get picked for this video game adaptations, but here we have obscure choices such as: Kraven the Hunter, Noir Hammerhead and Lady Octopus.
To add to the game's longevity, there is a 'Web of Destiny' menu screen, which features challenges unique to each chapter that earns the player experience points that they can spend on new moves, power increases and costumes to customise their Spider-men. This is a neat way to get players to replay old levels to earn specific rewards, and the challenges are easily tracked, so you know what remains to complete them. Some of them range from the easy to the frustratingly hard. I want to get all 180 challenges, so I can unlock the fourth and final costumes for each Spider-man, including my favourite variation: The Scarlet Spider.
Overall, this change of format is exactly what the Spider-Man video-game franchise needed after a slew of similar open-world games, which were beginning to repeat the same format. While some may consider it a step backwards to return to linear levels, the inclusion of various Spider-men distracts the gamer from this and introduces a totally new element to the Spider-man video-game.
[Review also published on Ciao.co.uk]
Spider-man Shattered dimensions is probably one of the best comic book games to date. This game touches on all of our favorite spider-man's including amazing, ultimate (in which he has venom's symbiote powers), Noir (a retro 1920's spider-man), and finally 2099 ( a future spider-man known as Miguel O'Hara).
-The game is heavily based in comic book themes
- Fun combat and a lot of unlockables
- Gameplay isn't too hard or too easy
- Has huge replay value with the web of destiny
- Each spider-man world is very developed and has their own feel to them.
- Bosses are repetitive
- Always have to save civilians in every level (very annoying)
- Enemies are pretty much the same just changed to suit the environment in which they're playing
- Noir level is very different change of gameplay (didn't like it very much)
But all in all this is still a very fun game for the average to above average comic book fan.