The latest entry into the collection of Spider-Man video games is Shattered Dimensions, developed by Beenox and published by Activision. How does it stack up against previous entries in what has been, at best, a mediocre franchise?
In the early days, gamers had the likes of Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety that put them in the boots of Spider-Man and/or Venom. These early beat-em ups were fun at the time, and while you could web-sling, they didn't really capture the feeling of freedom as you swing around New York City.
With the genesis of 3D gaming, Spider-Man came out for the PS One and the Nintendo 64. In this you could web-sling with a greater sense of how it would feel for Spider-Man, but it was still limited to a certain area, boxed in by the developers. This continues into the first Spider-Man movie game that was released for the GameCube, PS2 and X-Box.
With Spider-Man 2, Treyarch switched things up, allowing gamers to roam through an open-world New York City, swinging at will, provided your webs had something to which they could cling. The limitations were more natural, and the web-slinging had a much more natural, organic feel to it. Combat still left something to be desired, but it was tolerable. This same open-world mentality continued up to the last Spider-Man game, Web of Shadows. With Shattered Dimensions, however, that fun aspect of the Spider-Man games feels like it has taken a giant step backwards, though the way the game is set-up would make that open-world environment a bit more difficult to maintain.
The story behind Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is that during a museum robbery, the Amazing Spider-Man (voiced by none other than Neil Patrick Harris) and Mysterio get into a fight and a mysterious stone tablet, the Tablet of Order and Chaos, gets broken by Spider-Man, causing a dimensional rift to form and the pieces to get scattered across different Spider-Man continuities: Amazing, Ultimate, 2099 and Noir. Each Spider-Man is voiced by a different voice actor as well, helping to aid in the idea of four separate Spider-Man identities.
Each Spider-Man has some of the same basic moves, but also has one or two unique aspects, as well. The Amazing Spider-Man is the most well-rounded, the Ultimate Spider-Man (in which Spider-Man has donned the black Symobiote Suit) is a bit stronger and better in melee, Spider-Man 2099 is better at dodging attacks, and Noir Spider-Man isn't very good at straight forward fights, and is better off sticking to the shadows to take his enemies out.
The idea sounds like a lot of fun, but the execution is more than a little muddled. Each Spider-Man controls identically when it comes to swinging around and melee combat. The game itself is little more than button mashing combos into groups of baddies while occasionally dodging incoming projectiles.
And the level designs and enemies are little more than repetitive palette swaps. Spider-Man tracks down a shard of the tablet, runs into a classic Spider-Man villain who has been made stronger by said shard, and chases them through a very linear level, all the while fighting off groups of baddies that the villain can create that share more than a few similarities with the baddie that spawned them.
And each level is the same formula with a different enemy from Spider-Man's numerous Rogue Gallery. The only break in the monotony comes in the form of Noir Spider-Man's levels, where stealth plays a bigger role.
Overall, there isn't a lot to recommend a purchase for this game. It's overall very mediocre at best, and there isn't a whole lot of replay value. Each level does come with its own challenges that, when beaten, give you points to increase or enhance Spider-Man's combat and character abilities. The challenges are even tracked, so you know which ones you've done and which ones you haven't. Even with that, give this game a rental before a purchase. It's not worth it.