PS3 Review – Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

September 13, 2010 Written by Joseph Peterson

Originally when Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was announced by Beenox and Activision, many thought it would be another superhero game that wouldn’t meet the expectations of fans. The game’s selling point is essentially allowing gamers to control four different Spider-Man characters in their respective dimensions. The real question, however, is whether or not Beenox and Activision were able to pull this off successfully or should gamers avoid this title like many superhero installments that released previously.

As mentioned above, players are able to play in four different settings in Shattered Dimensions. The appealing aspect here is that each Spider-Man has their own established history within the comic world. That said, fans of the Spider-Man franchise will have hours of fun seeing these dimensions put to life within the game. For those that are not too familiar with the history of each Spider-Man, background information can be found out via the Bonus Content in the Main Menu.

Each dimension not only offers an amazing setting behind it but also brings with it completely different elements that tie into that comic book hero. The four playable characters include include the Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Spider-Man Noir. Amazing Spider-Man is the character that most players will find themselves familiar with, considering he is the main one based off of the comics. Spider-Man 2099, however, happens to be set into the future, bringing with it a setting filled with cars flying around the environment, futuristic buildings, and of course never-before-seen weaponry used by the dimension’s enemies.

Ultimate Spider-Man allows users to experience the power of the symbiote suit, a suit that has bonded to Peter Parker to gives him immense strength in exchange for maneuverability as the suit is also extremely hard for him to control at times. Spider-Man Noir is a much darker setting considering it is set in the 1930’s. Given the time period, this Spider-Man alter-ego relies on more stealth mechanics in comparison to those of the other characters. Each of these characters have different moves and can be played differently given their settings and abilities. All-in-all, there are a total of 13 levels, without the tutorial level, for players to play through as the assigned Spider-Man character of that given dimension.

While the story itself is a bit over-the-top, it does not hurt the game in any way. In the beginning of the game, Mysterio is attempting to steal the “Tablet of Order and Chaos” from a museum, at which point Spider-Man proceeds to fight the villain in an attempt to prevent the theft. During the confrontation, however, the tablet gets shattered into pieces, causing problems throughout the numerous dimensions. Madame Web, a psychic mutant who possesses many other abilities, explains to the four different Spider-Man variations that they must help gather all the fragments of the tablet to prevent chaos from continuing. Throughout the levels, the player will experience the worlds of the four different Spider-Man characters, encountering various villains along the way that look very different from their Amazing Spider-Man counterparts.

The level design features various elements depending on which character is played. The only problem is that, throughout the game, some levels become repetitive, and those expecting an open-world experience need to look elsewhere. The levels feature a straightforward experience for players but that’s not to say the stages aren’t fun or well designed levels. When you tie that in with a great overall control system, the game is a very fun arcade/beat ’em up title set in the Spider-Man universe.

As players make their way through the levels, countless aspects will factor into the amount of Spider Essence earned at the end of the level, such as the amount of enemies defeated. These include combo levels, completion time, and the player’s collection rate. Combo level is, of course, the amount of combos that can be stringed together as gamers progress through the tiers. Completion time is just that: the amount of time it takes you to complete a level. Finally, the ‘collection rating’ is the amount of collectibles obtained within the course.

Upon accumulating enough Spider Essence players will be able to unlock various in-game items accessible in the menu system. There are two areas to unlock things: combat upgrades and character upgrades. Within the combat upgrades, players can can spend their Spider Essence to unlock new moves and abilities to use in combat. On the other hand, character upgrades allow Spider-Man’s actual stats, such as health, Spider Essence absorption, and even the unlockable suits, to be improved.

One other mode to definitely pay attention to is the challenge system, found via the Web of Destiny. Each level has its own web full of various challenges to complete. As more challenges are completed, new sections are unlocked in both the character upgrades and combat upgrades. Challenges that are not completed can be attempted again by simply playing the specific level again.

Controls in the game work phenomenally and include both light attacks and strong attacks. Stringing together combos works flawlessly and is a completely seamless experience for the player. Also, reversals and web attacks work extremely well when using them with the light and strong attacks. Mastering the controls has to be a must considering the fact that various enemies require different tactics. For instance, bigger enemies are able to block Spider-Man and need a heavy attack to break his block.

Not all the dimensions require a fighting approach, though. As mentioned earlier, Spider-Man Noir relies on increased stealth rather than actual fighting tactics. This works a lot like the gameplay in last year’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, so the shadows are definitely a friend of Spider-Man Noir. Mastering jumps and control with the analog sticks is a must in this dimension. Our only gripe with the controls that can potentially serve as an annoyance at times is definitely the camera. There are times where it seems to go haywire for no clear reason, possibly due to the auto lock feature that kicks in when an enemy is near. It by no means breaks the game but it undoubtedly will annoy gamers at times.

Graphically the game is definitely impressive as it takes the comic book-style approach. This works very well for the title considering that Spider-Man is known as a comic book series by Marvel. Each dimension takes a different approach in the sense that, while still retaining the comic book look to it, they each have their own personality that makes them feel like an authentic experience straight out of that particular comic book iteration. The voice acting in the game also ties in very well giving gamers exactly what they would expect, including all the sarcastic side comments that we have come to know and love from the Spider-Man universe.

Overall, this is hands-down one of the best Spider-Man games ever released. The authentic look and feel delivers exactly what comic book and Spider-Man fans are looking for. The different dimensions require different tactics which keeps players on their toes. Those looking for an open-world affair should look elsewhere, considering the game is level-based and a tad linear, but for those looking for one of the best Spider-Man games should pick this one up without a doubt. The combat, enemies, and unlockables will keep you coming back for more.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Variation between the dimensions is a welcome aspect within the game.

The four different Spider-Man characters available to play as require different approaches and tactics.

Beautiful comic book graphics give the game an aura of authenticity.

8 out of 10