Four Spideys for the Price of One... Worth It?
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a strive towards something new for Spider-Man and, for the most part, it's successful. It strays from the open-world format that we've been seeing in recent years and introduces a more linear level-based system. Although it's linear in a sense that it's not an open world, you can decide which levels to play first in sets of four at a time. This would have been okay with me if it didn't show how many levels there would be in the entire game from the get-go. I like that "mystery" of not knowing how close to the end of the game you are, and it really bothered me as I played through the game. It's kind of like knowing how much time you have left to live. You know when it's going to end so you cherish every moment you have with it but as you get closer to the date, you wish you had more time and that is exactly how I feel about Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Unfortunately, if your life is anything like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, you may not have very long to live.
Each dimension has unique gameplay and a unique art style that keeps the game fresh throughout your time with it. A great gameplay feature, that's available in all of the dimensions, puts you into a first person perspective when your foe is right up in your face and it has you use the analog sticks to dodge your enemy's attacks and punch the daylights out of them. The Amazing Spider-Man's art style attempts to replicate a "comic book" look to pay tribute to his comic origins. The gameplay, not unlike the God of War series, is made up of platforming, combos, and web-based attacks. Ultimate's art style is reminiscent of his own self-titled game released back in 2005, and it holds up as well today as it did then. The gameplay is similar to Amazing's except instead of web-based attacks, they're symbiote-based. They've also implemented a "Rage Mode" which makes Ultimate Spider-Man stronger for a short period of time. Spider-Man 2099's dimension is a typical futuristic city, which is suiting considering when it's set. The gameplay is based more on air-combat and accelerated vision. Accelerated Vision is a mode you can slip in and out of that causes everything to slow down except Spider-Man 2099, making it easier to dodge missiles and objects while free falling. That brings us to Spider-Man Noir.
Spider-Man Noir has the most fun, unique, and interesting dimension of the four. The basic combat from the other three dimensions is present here, but only in short sections. Spider-Man Noir is dominated almost entirely by stealth-based gameplay. Sticking to the shadows, you have to sneak up on your victims and take them out silently. Depending on your location and the distance from your enemy a unique animation is prompted. This is all executed with a push of a button, but it never gets old watching Spidey perform these stealthy feats. The dimension's art style is absolutely great as well. When sneaking through the shadows the world is in black and white, but when you step into the lit areas the world fills with colour. The only thing I have to complain about is when you are caught and the alarm is raised, it's as easy as just stepping into the shadows to lose your enemies. Regardless of that small problem, this dimension alone makes the game worth checking out.
Along with the dimension's worlds, Beenox did a great job filling them with classic Spider-Man and Marvel characters. I don't want to spoil any of the characters for anyone, but they were excellently implemented into the story, and the voice actors did a great job bringing them to life. For Spider-Man, they got Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Josh Keaton, and Dan Gilvezan to reprise the role as your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger. This was absolutely incredible to hear past Spider-Man voice actors in this game, and any Spider-Man fan will greatly appreciate it. It was unfortunate though, to hear their lines repeat themselves several times even in a short period of playing. It's not exactly unexpected but, still, it's unfortunate.
Throughout the game you collect "essence" that can be gained by collecting Spider Emblems, finding Hidden Spiders, defeating enemies, and completing levels. You can spend this essence on Combo Upgrades and Character Upgrades. Combo Upgrades include various combos and attacks you can teach your Spider-Men, whilst Character Upgrades lets you upgrade your Health, Rage Mode, and Accelerated Vision. Another way of collecting essence is completing challenges. These in-game achievements can be seen by accessing the "Web of Destiny", which shows you challenges you've completed and still need to complete. These challenges include things like, "Defeat 5 Enemies with the Charged Attack", "Take Down 8 Enemies in a Row without Raising the Alarm", and "Find All 8 Hidden Spiders". They were put to good use in the game and never made me feel like I was going out of my way to achieve them. Instead, I felt like they were pushing me to try out everything I could in the game, and I would gladly thank them as it made for a more enjoyable and full experience.
Beenox's first foray into the Spider-Man franchise is, despite a few design decisions and some minor bugs, a successful one. They brought a fresh new feel to Marvel's poster boy and it has me looking forward to what they will do with the next Spider-Man title. If you are a fan of Spider-Man, this game is a must buy but even if you have little to no interest in Spidey, this game is still worth checking out if not only for the Noir dimension.