Spider-Man is no stranger to current gen consoles. But unlike the Final Fight beat’em up style of Friend or Foe, or the open world sandbox game of Spider-Man 3 or even Web of Shadows, Shattered Dimension offers something new with an interesting take on storytelling and gameplay.
Instead of overwhelming the player with the freedom to websling all over New York, Spider-Man’s latest journey takes place throughout four different dimensions with classic sequential level progression. As it turns out, Mysterio has stolen an old tablet that breaks apart into many different pieces. The catch is each piece has been transported to a different dimension: Amazing Spider-Man, Noir Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Each Spider-Man must obtain their tablet fragments in order to restore balance to not only their unique world, but across all dimensions.
The game opens up with Amazing Spider-Man, donning the classic red and blue tights, tracking Kraven the Hunter. Here, the player is introduced to the main mechanics of the game: controls, combat, and how the level up system and challenges are all tied together. God of War style, each enemy you take down rewards the player with points that can be spent to unlock new or stronger abilities. But taking this tried-but-true system to a higher level, the player is given optional challenges for each specific stage, like beat the stage in a certain time, find a certain number of hidden objects, or defeat enemies in a certain way. Complete enough challenges and more unlockables will become available. This mini-Achievement/Trophy style system works very well as it constantly offers the player extra incentive besides just reaching the end of each stage.
Once the Kraven the Hunter level is completed, the game starts to open up by letting the player select which dimension to select next. Filling the narrator role, Madam Web helps to string the story together and provide insight on each stage. She also keeps the black suit of Ultimate Spider-Man in check, allowing Peter to wear the suit without all the negative side effects.
The Spider-Man 2099 and Noir stages are the most unique. At an attempt to keep the game faster paced and more exciting, 2099 Spider-Man introduces free falling stages to the player. Like Gandalf fighting the falling shadow and flame creature, Spider-Man will dive head first from the ridiculously tall buildings of the future. The challenge comes from dodging enemy attacks and parts of the environment on the way down. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with these falling sections is the lack of an invert option. Like flying a plane, some players like to go up when pressing down and vice-versa. The default option, however, is up goes up and down goes down. Needless to say, I took my fair share of damage because I am not used to this control option, and it also prevented me from getting the “don’t take any damage while free falling” Achievement/Trophy.
Noir Spider-Man is probably the exact oppose than 2099 as each stage is geared around stealth. Like the movie Sin City, these stages are presented in a monotone color scheme to exclaim the difference between light and shadow; enemies cannot spot Spider-Man as long as he is hidden in the cover of darkness. Unfortunately, there are times when it is unclear whether or not the player is standing in the safety of shadows and enemies seem to occasionally spot you even when Spider-Man is clearly hidden. But these stealth missions deserve credit as it gives the player a new take on typical Spider-Man combat.
Shattered Dimension is basically like getting four different gaming experiences in one. However, there are some negatives that are spread throughout the entire experience. First is the camera. The option to lock on to an enemy with the left trigger is most welcomed during combat, but the camera system totally freaks out when crawling on the wall or ceiling. This makes it especially difficult in the Noir stages as sticking to the environment is imperative to the success of each mission. And making the 90 degree transition from wall to ceiling is especially bad.
Secondly, one of the coolest aspects of Spider-Man is his ability to websling; it is a shame that the player never gets the opportunity to fully experience this. Sure you can double jump and webzip from post to post, but the more open world experiences of Spider-Man 2 and 3 really make this game feel like a big part of the Spider-Man experience is missing. Level design is ultimately the culprit of this; each stage is usually encased with walls (some are invisible) which keeps the player only moving in one direction and removes the element of exploration. The game encourages you to explore the environment to find hidden spider icons, but it cannot replace the cool feeling of being Spider-Man by webslinging from skyscraper to skyscraper.
This game definitely has its flaws, but it is still an entertaining experience. Even though the free-roaming aspect of the game is removed in Shattered Dimension, the sequential stage progression is a throwback to classic game design and gives structure to the overall experience. The game offers smart design choices too, like having the ability to carry unlocked upgrades between dimensions and giving the player a unique spin on first person boxing. These features are welcomed and unpredicted gameplay elements that give Shattered Dimension the radioactive spider-bite that it deserves. The story, cut scenes, boss battles, and overall presentation have also been crafted with care.
Shattered Dimension might not be the best Spider-Man experience of all time, but it surely is one of the better games in the series.
Better Than: Spider-Man 2600
Also Try: The Spider-Man games on GBC
Wait For It: Spider-Man/X-Men Arcade’s Revenge 2
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