Reviewed: September 16, 2010
Released: September 7, 2010
While Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions features Spider-Man battling Mysterio, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, and Sandman, it's a shame that his two greatest enemies are the game's own controls and camera. What might have been an excellent web-slinging experience is dragged down to the grimy depths of frustration and mediocrity by a camera that never seems to be facing in the right direction and a control scheme that tries to squeeze too many functions onto the Wii remote and nunchuk.|
Itís painful, really, because Shattered Dimensions is a few steps away from being an incredible Spider-Man game, maybe even Spider-Manís answer to last yearís Batman: Arkham Asylum. The writing captures the spirit of Spider-Man, and the plot, while thin, is a solid excuse to take a jaunt between Marvelís various continuities and fight classic Spider-Man villains in each.
A fight in a museum between Spider-Man and Mysterio, special effects wizard turned fake villainous wizard, sets up the game. When their struggles destroy the Tablet of Order and Chaos, the multiverse is thrown out of balance and four Spider-Men (Amazing, Ultimate, Noir, and 2099) have to race to recover the pieces before they fall into the wrong hands. Each Spider-Man has different mechanics and settings to their adventures, as Amazing Spider-Man fights using tools created from his webbing, Ultimate Spider Man utilizes his symbiotic black suit and the ability to fly into a rage, Spider-Man 2099 takes advantage of his technologically advanced suit and accelerated vision for bullet-time brawling, and Spider-Man Noir prowls through the night to get a drop on the Thompson-toting thugs that inhabit his world.
Additionally, each Spider-Man brings his own graphical style to the table, from the gritty black and white of Noir to the neon pastel urban sprawl of 2099. While the graphics arenít up to par with the gameís counterparts on PS3 and 360, they definitely fit well. If anything, the transition between realistic pre-rendered cutscenes and the gameís more stylized cel-shading can be a little jarring at first, but the graphics quickly grew on me.
Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Dan Gilvezan and Josh Keaton provide the voices of the Spider-Men, each of whom has voice acted Spider-Man in the past, and their dialogue is spot-on. As Spider-Man progresses through the stages, thereís a constant stream of smart-alecky comments and witty banter that captures the feel of how Spider-Man approaches the world. The only problem is that when the chase dies down and the game settles into a boss fight, the ongoing scripted dialogue settles into a set of oft-repeated combat barks, which breaks the illusion of the free-flowing snappy dialogue that Spider-Man shared with his villain of the hour.
And what villains they are! Where Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions succeeds with flying colors is the interaction with villains throughout the course of a stage. Where other superhero games have been satisfied to hide the villain of a stage away until the very end, Shattered Dimensions makes them the centerpiece of every level. From Spider-Man 2099 chasing Hobgoblin through a futuristic city as he drops bombs into tragic to Ultimate Spider-Manís competition in Deadpoolís murderous game show, the personality and style of the villains shine through the levels, and Spider-Manís interaction with them is constant. Even as Spider-Man Noir, who prowls through the stages without much direct interaction with the villain, the villain gets enough screen time to make sure you know what theyíre about.
As excellent as the presentation is, though, the controls and camera provide a solid barrier to playing the game. It feels like every button does at least two things, depending on the angle of the remote or the duration you hold it down for, or both, which seems to be an artifact of the game sharing mechanics with its cousins on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, each of which has more buttons to go around on their controller. Less easily explained is the camera, which feels like it harkens back to the first days of three-dimensional gaming, always seeming to find its way into an angle while, while cinematic, isnít quite right for actually accomplishing your goals. You can manually adjust the controller with the directional pad, but doing that while fighting or moving around is quite the challenge for those of us without Peter Parkerís superhuman reflexes.
Still, despite these problems, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a solid game. Its flaws are easily outweighed by the quality of its design, and the sheer joy itíll bring any Spidey fan. Itís the best portrayal of Spider-Man in video games in a very long time, and if youíre a true believer, Stan Leeís narration alone is practically worth the price of admission. Even though it can be a bumpy ride, Shattered Dimensions is a game you shouldnít pass up.