by: Jim McLaughlin
Since four of the five most recent Spider-Man branded games have been “open world” experiences, it stood to reason to expect Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions to be as well. Yet Beenox decided to flip the series on its head and create a very linear game with an interesting twist.
In Shattered Dimensions you play as four different Spider-Men, each pulled from a comic series that sought to depart from the traditional Amazing Spider-Man storyline. While classic Spidey is one of the main contenders, you will put on the spandex of the titular character from the Noir, 2099, and Ultimate comics. Each controls roughly the same, but have their own respective combat moves and dynamic interactions with the environment.
Levels are straightforward and culminate in a boss fight. Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man (featuring the symbiotic Black Suit) have very similar platforming gameplay. Spider-Man 2099 throws you from the highest tower in New York, circa 2099, where you’ll experience freefall segments and aerial combat. These are good for a rush of energetic gameplay, although the visual style is extremely busy and eye-straining. In the Spider-Man Noir levels you’ll be tasked with a much more stealthy approach. These segments are unabashedly lifted straight from Batman: Arkham Asylum, and between the noir visual style, the stylistic bad guys, and the variety of contextual takedown moves, Noir is by far my favorite to play. During boss fights, the view will at times transition to a first-person boxing portion where the analog sticks serve as your fists; these are fun for an up-close beatdown on your opponent, and they close out the boss fights with major style.
Story progression is unlocked four levels at a time (one for each dimension), which you can tackle in your own preferred sequence. Unfortunately, immersion is a problem when the game changes environments so drastically, but here it’s even more so disjointing because each Spider-Man is voiced by separate actors with distinctively different voices. I find it hard to believe that each dimension shares one hero when his voice changes along with the art style.
Nonetheless, I’m having fun with the game and I recommend it for any Spider-Man fan. Without the open world style of the previous games (not including Friend or Foe, the sole co-op outing) there is very little replay value...but Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is what I’d call perfect fodder for leftover Christmas card cash.