I won’t lie; I wasn’t particularly excited to play Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Linear levels, four different Spider-Men, and an unproven developer? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t sound like a winning formula to me. Wholly expecting a mediocre to atrocious title that would quickly be forgotten, I found myself to be horribly and wonderfully wrong.
As the name implies, reality itself has been put in peril as the Tablet of Order and Chaos’s shattered pieces are now spread across four dimensions (Amazing, Ultimate, 2099, Noir). Each Spider-Man, in their respective universe, must gather the pieces of the tablet and restore order. Utilizing each of their unique abilities and powers, they must overcome their greatest enemies, each one enhanced by the powers of the tablet.
It’s an interesting set-up, and no doubt comic fans will be drooling over all of the fan service within. Concept art, 3D figurines, cameos, character bios, and four completely different universes – this game was made specifically for fans of the Webhead. Even I, a complete outsider to the comics’ scene, enjoyed seeing the alternate versions of Spider-man’s foes. Hammerhead as an enforcer in a noir world? The Hobgoblin as a cyborg/robot in a neo-New York City? Color me intrigued.
Now, if these other worlds were just graphically different duplicates of each other, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being unimpressed. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Even the two most similar universes, Amazing and Ultimate, have quite drastic differences. They may share a few basic similarities, but the aesthetics and nature of gameplay vary greatly.
The Amazing Spid er-Man is ripped straight from the comics (well, they all are, but you know) with mostly web-based attacks and a light cel-shading art style. Noir Spider-Man’s universe, my personal favorite, is set back in the 1930’s, with a muted color scheme and a much weaker Spider-Man that must use stealth to accomplish his task. Probably the second most recognizable of the four, Ultimate Spider-Man’s heavy cel-shading, young age, and symbiotic powers set him apart just enough to avoid confusion with the Amazing Spider-Man. Finally, Spider-Man 2099, with his futuristic art style and superhuman speed, adds an interesting twist to the idea of Spider-Man.
Most levels tend to play out something like complete objective, fight thugs, fight boss, more thugs, complete another objective, and finally defeat the boss. It’s repetitive and predictable, but honestly, I didn’t realize this untll nearly the end of the game. The various Spider-Men’s hilarious quips (yes, Spider-Man is actually funny), diverse gameplay, and interesting boss fights kept me too distracted to notice that I was doing the same thing multiple times. Linear and predictable as they may be, levels never felt confined or restricted. There were always thugs to fight or civilians to save, but never a dull moment.
There were some frustrating moments though; like when I fell through the world, or got stuck behind a glass wall, or got locked inside an oilrig. It seems so odd, in a game that seems to be well polished, that so many glitches would go by unfixed. To top it off, I even encountered audio problems; which is unfortunate, because the voices and sound effects are top-notch. Many of the characters’ voices are reprised roles, and are all fantastic. The problem is that Beenox seems to have forgotten to record enough dialogue, because I heard both Spider-Man and whatever villain he was facing repeat their lines three or for times. The one-use dialogue is just fine, great even, but nobody wants to listen to the same joke twice.
Not that it’ll happen that much, since the title only contains 13 levels, with each one only taking anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes to beat. It’s both disappointing and confusing that the game lacks length or any real form of replayability. There are harder difficulties and challenges, sure, but it’s still the same level. Once the game is beaten, which takes somewhere from seven to nine hours, there’s really not much to do.
I’m torn between praising this game’s style, level pacing, and overall gameplay, and scolding the amount of glitches, audio repetition, and short length. It’s a question of quality vs. quantity, and I err on the side of quality. Of course, I doubt anyone who bought this game at the original asking price of $60 would agree with me; and I’ll be honest, I can’t argue with them. The game truly is far too short, and a retail title can’t justify that, no matter how amazing it is. No matter how many times I say it’s fun and clean, it doesn’t change the major flaws Shattered Dimensions has.
One of these major flaws is the unnecessary moral content the game has. Violence, cursing, and innuendo make up most of the objectionable content, but I also noticed an alcohol reference/joke and some rather frightening character designs. Now, I’ll actually give Beenox some credit here; they finally answered my question of, “how does Spider-Man not kill anyone if he’s throwing thugs off buildings?” (dimensional rifts) Other than the non-lethal violence, problems are infrequent, as the innuendos and minor cursing are greatly subdued throughout.
This is a great Spider-Man game, probably the best one in years. There are very few negative things I can say about it, but the few problems I do have will turn off a ton of people. Few buyers still stick with the “quality over quantity” mantra when the game costs $30 (originally $60), and as much as I want to recommend buying this game, I just can’t. Unless you happen to be one of the most hardcore Spider-Man fans out there, a buy should be out of the question, but a rent is definitely warranted.