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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

 

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
 
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Author:

Developer: Beenox
Publisher: Activision

Features:

1 Player
76 KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080p/1080i

Over the years our favourite web slinging hero has fallen victim to rushed movie-based games and other games that have simply left Spidey fans underwhelmed. Spider-Man’s target audience has always appeared satisfied; however, critics and hardcore gamers have not seen a Triple A Spidey game in quite some time, if ever. So along comes Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for the Xbox 360. As a Spidey fan and a fan of previous Beenox games, I was very curious to see if some of the ongoing issues from previous Spider-Man games had been addressed. But I will be honest - I was looking for the definitive Spider-Man experience to date. Hopeful gamers would talk about Shattered Dimensions as Batman fans and hardcore gamers have embraced Batman: Arkham Asylum. High expectations indeed but Spidey is due. Unfortunately that definitive experience is going to have to wait a bit longer.

Graphics

Overall, the visuals in Shattered Dimensions for the Xbox 360 are stunning and appear to be an upgrade over the previous Spider-Man game (Web of Shadows). The game is set in four dramatically different universes from legendary Spider-Man lore. Visually the results are fantastic. From the fantastic looking versions of Spider-Man (something I will explain a bit more below), to wonderfully detailed universes where the game takes place, Shattered Dimensions is arguably the best looking Spidey game to date.

What sets Shattered Dimensions apart from the rest of the pack is the unique and authentic art styles within each of the four universes. From the classic pen-and-ink-styled Amazing Spider-Man to the moody 1930s cinema-influenced Noir Spider-Man, you get a bit of everything in this game and the result is a varied and fantastic looking game. My favourite of the four different versions of Spider-Man has to be the futuristic looking Spidey. His colourful and vibrant suit is slick looking. The detail is simply stunning and he looks great in High Definition. Other in-game villains such as Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Juggernaut and Hammerhead also look great and are easily recognizable. Granted they all look ‘juiced up’ to the extreme on steroids but hey it is a game based on a comic book character, so what do you expect?

All in all, Shattered Dimensions is great looking game and Spidey fans will enjoy playing throughout the game’s four universes. There is plenty of eye candy to be had and it comes at no expense as Shattered Dimensions is smooth running game and there are no frame rate issues to be had.

Sound

Overall, Shattered Dimensions is a great sounding game and just like the game’s visuals it is arguably the best sound package we have heard in the franchise thus far. Several of the game's voice actors have voiced characters in previous Spider-Man series or games. Each Spider-Man in the four universes is voiced by a different actor. Neil Patrick Harris, who voiced Spider-Man in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, voices the Amazing Spider-Man of the mainstream Marvel universe. Christopher Daniel Barnes, who portrayed Spider-Man in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, voices Spider-Man Noir. Spider-Man 2099 is portrayed by Dan Gilvezan, who was the voice of Spider-Man in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Finally, Ultimate Spider-Man is voiced by Josh Keaton, who lent his voice in the 2008 series, The Spectacular Spider-Man. Last but certainly not least Stan Lee narrates the story. All in all the voice work is a real treat and gives the game instant credibility and authenticity unlike we have heard before in the Spider-Man world of gaming.

The game enemies also feature some solid voice work as well. Many hardcore fans of the animated series will recognize many of the voices. Bottom line, they all sound fantastic. Granted the dialogue can get really cheesy at times but hey that is what Spider-Man is all about: corny one-liners and jokes that make you say “oh brother.”

The game’s soundtrack is also well done. The music gives you the feeling you are truly immersed in Spider-Man’s world. The music is well-timed, sounds great in 5.1 surround sound and will have you humming the tunes over and over in your head hours after you have put the controller down.

In-game sound effects sound as good they should but they are nothing spectacular. As an example, the web slinging and punching effects are bang-on but they just didn’t wow me. Nevertheless, on the whole I had no concerns with the sound effects and battle noises; I just didn’t find myself awestruck.

Gameplay

Shattered Dimensions for the Xbox 360 features no cooperative game-play or multiplayer component at all (offline or online). As such my gameplay section will focus strictly on the single player mode which unfortunately is all that is offered. Although the single player aspect of the game is fabulous I cannot help but be a bit disappointed as the co-op gameplay in Friend or Foe, for instance, was lots of fun and gave an otherwise weak game a ton of replay value. So I have to admit I was a bit saddened when I first popped the game in only to find out there was no way my daughter and I could play the game together co-operatively. Regardless, Shattered Dimensions features a fantastic single player experience. But before I go any further, here is a ‘gist’ of the storyline:

An artifact known as the "Tablet of Order and Chaos" is shattered into pieces during a fight which happens at the outset of the game between Spider-Man and Mysterio. The shattered tablet, as you would guess, causes a chaos with multiple Marvel Universe realities. Madame Web appears shortly after the ‘bru ha ha’ between Spidey and Mysterio and calls on four versions of Spider-Man from four realities to assist her in bringing the realities back into balance. The four versions being: The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir (a 1930s version of Spider-Man), Spider-Man 2099 (futuristic Spidey), and a symbiote-bonded Ultimate Spider-Man. Various villains from each of the universes have gained possession of the fragments and have enhanced powers. Each villain possessing a fragment is granted power to accomplish what he desires most: defeating the Spider-Mans of their respective universes. Shattered Dimensions follows Spidey across various universes as he embarks on a journey to recapture shattered tablets.

All in all, Shattered Dimensions offers up a ‘so so’ storyline but it is a somewhat basic one as well. What the story does lack in terms of depth, it makes up for it in terms of some of the enjoyable gameplay elements and slick looking visuals and voice acting. Unlike previous Spider-Man games, Shattered Dimensions is not a free roaming open world game. So for those looking for an experience similar to Web of Shadows, you don’t get it here. Spidey is not free to roam; swinging from building to building like he has done in previous games. This being said, there is no shortage of web slinging and button mashing action with Shattered Dimensions.

In Shattered Dimensions you control four versions of Spider-Man and the game plays in a linear fashion where you have to battle your way through certain areas and towards the end of the mission you encounter a boss fight. Beat the boss and get the piece of the artifact back. Seems like a simple concept that has been accomplished time and time again. Despite being predictable as hell, Shattered Dimensions works and offers up enough variety and challenge to keep even the hardcore gamer satisfied. At the end of the day however there are still some problematic elements in Shattered Dimensions that have plagued previous Spidey games.

For starters, when swinging and crawling buildings the camera seemingly has a mind of its own. In fact, the camera work really hampers the gameplay at times in that I found myself constantly fighting with it. It is improved over previous Spidey games; nevertheless that wonky camera rears its ugly head from time to time. Controlling the camera is just not as refined as it could be. I cannot help but think given how many times there has been a Spider-Man game released you would think we would see some perfection by now.

Another area of concern is that during key moments of gameplay, Shattered Dimensions switches to a first-person perspective. During these sequences the player uses the analog sticks to control Spider-Man's arms, punching the opponent. On the surface it seems like a great idea but the execution is a whole different can of worms. These first person sequences appear during boss fights and I just found it hampered the overall experience. The developers, Beenox, are seemingly the king of sequential button pressing (see our Bee Movie Game review). So it comes as no surprise that instead of the sequential button presses we get sequential analog movements. It’s hard to point to any one particular annoyance with this but it just all the sudden felt like I was jumping into a modified version of Mike Tyson’s Punch-out. It disrupted the flow and seemed out of place.

Some of the more positive elements of the gameplay include the array of fighting styles with each different Spidey. In each universe, Spider-Man has unique fighting techniques that distinguish him from the others. Amazing Spider-Man uses a combination of melee and web-attacks. Spider-Man Noir uses stealth and timing to silently defeat his enemies in combat. Spider-Man 2099 uses acrobatics and his suit's advanced abilities in combat. Finally, Ultimate Spider-Man uses the powers of the symbiote suit to devastate enemies, generating symbiotic spikes and tendrils that act like extensions of his own body.

In terms of the game’s controls, Shattered Dimensions is deep and much of the game’s various moves are pick-up on the fly. The endless amount of combos is incredible. That being said, far too often I found good old fashioned button mashing worked best with on the ground combat. Boss fights are a tad on the long and drawn out side; however they can be enjoyable as some of the scenery is quite nice. They are also quite the challenge so be forewarned.

The game should take you anywhere from 8-12 hours to complete depending on your skill and how many experience points you want to rack up. Shattered Dimensions features a terrific upgrade system where you can cash in your experience points to upgrade your abilities and suits. You can upgrade things like Spider-Man’s air attack, ground attack, wall attack, etc. All in all it is a great system and gives you plenty of incentive to complete to find all the collectables, including hidden spiders.


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