In Spider-Man games of the past, developers created an open world for Spider-Man to explore. Once the main story was over, players could just freely roam high above the streets above New York City fighting crime and saving civilians from certain death. Beenox decided to go a different route. Rather that give players an open world they have built a more linear story for Spider-Man to follow. And for a story this big, they decided that one Spider-Man just wasn't enough. Beenox have brought together four distinct Spider-Men from across the Marvel Universe to save the day only a way the Spider-Man can.
The story for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is quite the creative one. Players find Mysterio in the midst of stealing a tablet called the Tablet of Order and Chaos. Spider-Man swings into action to stop him. However during the altercation, he accidentally destroys it and the pieces are sent across multiple dimensions. In order to retrieve the fragments, Madame Web calls together four Spider-Men to retrieve the fragments and stop the universes from unraveling. Players here will get to assume the roles of Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man 2099 and Ultimate Spider-Man donned in the black symbiote. The story here is interesting. It feels like an incredible crossover event where the threat is just too catastrophic for one hero to handle.
The different universes are diverse and at times it calls for different approaches at gameplay. While Amazing Spider-Man is very agile and can hammer foes with web-based attacks, Spider-Man Noir must cling to the shadows and take out foes silently. However, at heart this game is a beat-em-up, so when Spider-Man Noir is forced to go toe-to-toe with opponents, it shows that he wasn't meant for this kind of action. It is questionable why these fighting sections where placed in the Noir dimension if it is suppose to be a stealth Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2099 and Ultimate Spider-Man are pretty much good old-fashion beat-em-ups through and through like Amazing Spider-Man, but the different characters add special abilities to add to their attack arsenal. Spider-Man 2099 has some free fall sequences where players must dodge oncoming obstacles and fight bosses in the process. He also has an Acceleration Mode that allows him to slow down time. Ultimate Spider-Man unleashes the destructive power of the symbiote with Rage Mode that causes him to inflict extra damage.
Unlike Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Shattered Dimensions lacks the combat finesse of the previous game. There are combos to learn along the way thanks to an ingenious challenge system called the Web of Destiny. In each Universe the players can do certain actions such as stealth takedown 10 enemies without touching the ground or dodge 50 tentacles during free fall to gain exuberant amounts of Spider-Essence. This is currency that you can then use to unlock new attacks, character upgrades and even alternate costumes. As you complete more and more challenges, higher tiers of upgrades unlock. There are some challenges that are quite difficult to achieve, but it is definitely for the completionist-style player. However since this game is not an open-world adventure, there is little replay value after that.
To add to the distinction of the Spider-Men, the four voice actors to play the parts of the different wall-crawlers are all voice alums of the friendly neighborhood web-swinger and really add to the immersion of the story and pull off his comedic timing and witty banter with foes. The Spider-Man and Deadpool moments are simply comedic gold. These guys definitely know what they are doing and at no point phone it in. The people at Beenox could of have easily gone with no-named voice actors, but to put old voices of Spider-Man into one game show they really care about the character.
The art here looks astounding. For different art-styles are brought together to really flesh out the different dimensions. The Amazing universe is really reminiscent of the art style from Borderlands and looks like a cell-shaded painting. Also, the color scheme and attention to detail really sticks out in the Ultimate dimension. There is one part where flames shoot around Spider-Man in the symbiote and the mixture of purple, black and yellow reflecting off his body are remarkable to say the least.
While there are several detailed aspects that really bring you into the universe, there are key parts in the game that really take you out of the experience. During certain points in the game, Spider-Man's powers essentially get turned off and he can't use any spider-powers and there is no rhyme or reason to it. There were multiple parts where I couldn't even crawl on certain walls and there was no difference from one wall and the other. Also web swinging has been toned down in the title. It really only serves as a way to get from point A to point B so there won't be great web swinging set pieces from other games such as chasing down foes around an open city or cool acrobatics moves such as running up walls while web swinging.
There were also some control input issues especially in the first-person fighting sequences. When prompted to dodge, the game would not recognize my inputs and was quite annoying, but in the end not overly frustrating.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a fun game and enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of the comic book or game series. The story, art and the four dimensions are selling points of the game. However, with no open world for real replay and lack of distinction in combat moves hinders it from being a really great game. In the end, you'll have fun with this title.