Spider-man has done it again. He tries to do the right thing by stopping Mysterio from stealing the powerful Tablet of Order and Chaos. Unfortunately, the tablet shatters during the fight and pieces are strewn across four different Marvel dimensions. Madame Web, an advisor and telepath, contacts the Spider-man in each reality and gives them the task of tracking down all fragments before they fall into evil hands. The stage is set and the curtain lifts on one of the more enjoyable games that I’ve played recently, Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions.
Beenox uses the story as a springboard to craft four different worlds. You spend equal time as the famous web-head in the Amazing, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate universes, each with their own “feel.“ Amazing Spider-man is the red and blue costumed hero everyone knows and loves who uses web-based attacks like nobody’s business. The Ultimate Spidey wears the black symbiote suit, which comes with a rage meter that gets filled up through combat. Once activated, the temporary rage will increase the power of all of his attacks. Both dimensions are presented using an appropriate cell-shaded style that does a good job of imitating comic book artwork.
Spider-man 2099’s futuristic action happens in and on top of high-rise buildings. His suit gives him accelerated vision to dodge incoming missiles and attacks. That reality is full of bright colors, clean surfaces, and flying vehicles. The most distinct dimension, though, is experienced when playing as Spider-man Noir. Set in New York City during the 1930s, these stealth-oriented levels have a film grain to add a gritty aesthetic to the environment. When Spider-man Noir stays hidden in the shadows, the world’s color drains to black and white. It’s a simple visual cue to indicate when you’re completely hidden and assist you in sneaking up on enemies for silent take downs.
Other than a tutorial level and the final fight, Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions is broken into three acts with four levels each. Within an act, the four levels (one per dimension) can be played in any order and on any of the three difficulty levels. It makes it easy to replay levels as much as you would like. There is also a mechanic that’s been used by comic books for years; namely, each issue (level) has it’s own boss and mini-story to complete. This allows plenty of familiar enemies both from Spider-man and Marvel lore to show up and take over their dimension.
I found the level variety to be enjoyable whether I was traipsing through the jungle, free-falling from a skyscraper, racing across a capsizing ship, or lurking in the shadows of a train yard. Great care was taken to create an enjoyable standalone experience on each level that encourages playing through them again just to see everything. They are also very lengthy, taking me an average of 30-40 minutes to complete unless I was going for a speed run. Much of it is progression from point to point beating up everything that moves, which as you can guess becomes too formulaic; beat up weak minions, encounter mid-level boss fight, battle more weak minions, and then take out the boss at the end of the level.
One thing Beenox added to spice up encounters is a first person punching sequence. Spider-man gets up close and personal with the boss to punch him into submission. It’s done well and used sparingly to give a nice change of pace in the various levels. The bosses themselves are also unique in their strengths and weaknesses, which leads to impressively staged encounters such as inside a tornado or on a weakened dam. Unfortunately, the battles can often feel too long and drawn out; it’s simple to find out how to beat the boss but then you have to go through the motions for six to eight repetitions.
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