Bad Luck Spiders


You have to hand it to Spider-man; he’s consistent. Think about it, other than maybe Batman, has any superhero had as much bad luck in their lives? There was the whole Gwen Stacy incident, Spider-Man 3, and how many fans wish they could make their own deal with Mephisto just to forget “Brand New Day” even happened?

Lucky for gamers, Spidey’s downtick in luck means more Spider-Man games. His latest, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, finds the wall-crawler on the bad end of a mystical item called the Tablet of Order. As bad luck would have it, the tablet shatters into four pieces and scatters through four different dimensions, ensuring every web-head in existence shares in the fun.

Similar to Web of Shadows, Shattered Dimensions isn’t hemmed in by any current movie, comic or cartoon storylines. It’s an original tale penned by Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. Unlike Web of Shadows, Shattered Dimensions steps away from the open-world formula used in nearly every Spider-Man game since the first movie tie-in, returning the series to level-based play.

Each world is broken up into levels based around different versions of Spider-Man. So far, Activision has announced three of the four versions: Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Man 2099. Although all four versions carry the same basic abilities – web shooters, wall crawling, acrobatic moves - each offers a completely different play experience and carries its own unique visuals.

Amazing Spider-Man is based on the classic red and blue clad hero known the world over (otherwise referred to as the 616 Universe). This section of the demo found Spider-Man in a jungle area ruled by Kraven the Hunter, who has received a power upgrade after finding a piece of the tablet. Gameplay consists primarily of wall-crawling and web-based combat. The style of play is incredibly close to what fans have come to expect of the character -- fast paced and full of high-flying moves. The world also features visuals in-line with the comic book. Characters are bright and have an inky quality.

Spider-Man Noir offers a completely different style, both visually and mechanically. Noir levels are darker and resemble something out of Arkham Asylum rather than a Spider-Man game.

The Noir continuity is an alternate version set in 1933. Most of the story settles on Ben Urich, a reporter blackmailing underworld boss Norman Osborn and his henchmen, the Enforcers. Urich receives information under the name “The Spider” and eventually takes on Peter Parker as a protégé. Peter accidently receives a tip meant for “The Spider” and travels to a warehouse where the Enforcers are unloading antiques. One of the items splits open, letting lose a group of spiders that bite Peter, imbuing him with the power of the spider god.

Gameplay is based heavily on sneaking around areas and silently taking down foes from the shadows. While in the shadows, the game takes on a desaturated look, leaving only faint outlines. Though blessed with the speed and strength of a spider, he isn’t bulletproof. The demo level featured lots of armed gunman ready to shoot.

During the demo, Spider-Man had to sneak through a trainyard, avoiding all sources of light, including a periodic fireworks display that would light up the entire level. The stealth-based gameplay works well with the world’s drab visuals. Everything is dark, reflecting the series Depression Era setting.

The final world on display was Spider-Man 2099, a series I had written off as a forgotten relic of Spider-Man past.

The 2099 version of Spider-Man is a product of geneticist Miguel O’Hara’s interest in super-humans. O’Hara is eventually forced to test his theories on a live human, ending in tragedy. After threatening to quit, his boss slips him a dose of Rapture, a highly addictive drug, with the idea O’Hara’s cravings would keep him in-line. O’Hara’s only hope lies in his genetic research. Though he is able to rid himself of the Rapture addiction, he also gains Spider-Man’s powers as well as sharp arm protrusions and the ability to glide with help from a short, lightweight cape.

Spider-Man 2099’s world takes advantage of his gliding abilities. The entire world is built with vertical play in mind, as showcased by a battle with Hobgoblin 2099 (a character developed specifically for Shattered Dimensions). The battle featured Hobgoblin gliding through the air while Spider-Man used his talons and gliding abilities to weave through flying traffic and deflect incoming bombs. Eventually, the freefalling hero was able to get close enough to launch a web-line towards the villain, and deliver a high-velocity punch.

Activision has yet to release the fourth Spider-Man’s identity, but considering they looked at 2099, I’m really interested to see where they go next. One tidbit Activision has revealed is each Spidey is voiced by someone who has already played the role. Spider-Man 2099 is voiced by Dan Gilvezan from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, while Christopher Daniel Barnes from the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon takes on Spider-Man Noir.

He may not have Lady Luck on his side, but Spider-Man’s latest crisis just looks like it may be his best yet.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions