All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Spider Wars

Company: Activision

So what is better than one Spider-Man wise cracking and taking down various bad guys? Why, four of them, of course. With the addition of Marvel's newest "Noir" universe, there are four, well-defined Spider-Men to bring together in what promises to be a fun, expansive gameplay experience.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions kicks off with Mysterio attempting to steal some ancient tablet, and in the ensuing fight with everyone's favorite arachnid super-hero, the tablet shatters and Mysterio gets away. Before Spidey has a chance to figure out exactly what is going on, Madam Web appears to provide some much needed exposition.

It seems the shards of the tablet have actually flung themselves across four different dimensions. Besides the one pretty much everyone knows and loves, referred to in this game as "Amazing" for Amazing Spider-Man, the pieces have also appeared in the Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir universes. Each has their own and unique take on the Spider-Man character and each will prove to have an interesting set of gameplay styles that really fit their specific universe.

The story progression, at least for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii (we will get to the DS in a little while), will have you tackling each universe separately one at a time, and then advancing the plot to unlock four more levels. Basically, the first act will have you playing a level in the Amazing, Ultimate, 2099 and Noir universes each, but the order you tackle them is completely up to you. Once you've completed each of those missions, you will be treated to a cut-scene, and four more levels will be available, and so on until you've worked your way through the entire game.

What's interesting though, if I understand things correctly, is that you can unlock various combos and abilities through Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions's skill tree... err web, and then go back and replay earlier levels with the new abilities. While this won't open up any new areas or anything, it will give you a wider range of moves to perform. And to make things sweater, unlocking or upgrading a move as one Spidey does it for the other three as well.

So how do the different universes play? The Amazing universe feels like what you would expect from other Spider-Man games. This is your classic, wise-cracking hero with a very comic-book look and feel. His main attacks involve melee moves, but towards the end of the lengthy combo-attacks, he starts to form web-fists and web-hammers to do devastating amounts of damage to his opponents.

The universe that is closest in feel to Amazing is also the closest in the general story and overall style of the comics; that is to say, the Ultimate universe. Here, you get to control Black-Suit Spider-Man and you will be using a lot of medium-ranged attacks as you use his tentacles to pummel his foes. Since this is Black-Suit, there is also the nifty rage ability that builds up after consecutive combos. With a tap of a button, you enter into a red-hazed, super-powered mode that deals out massive amounts of damage until the meter is emptied.

In the 2099 levels, you will not only find the combat much faster, but this particular Spidey has the ability to temporarily slow down time. This is helpful not only when taking out massive numbers of Tron-reject grunts, but when using the 2099 character's controlled descent as you not only zip through tunnels, but also recover from falling off platforms.

The last and newest universe, Noir, takes a drastically different approach to Spider-Man. Here, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions takes on a stealth feel as your best bet is to stay in the universe's deep shadows and take out enemies at a distance. In the level I was able to play, Spider-Man had to free several civilians from cages as a bunch of goons patrolled the train yard they were being held in. When you get close enough to a guard, a tap of a button will grab him and pull him towards you where Spider-Man can quickly tie him up and put him out of the way. There were several parts of this level that reminded me a lot of the stealth aspects of Batman: Arkham Asylum. This was also one of the areas where the Wii's controls differed from the other two consoles. On the PS3 and 360, freeing a civilian was a matter of hitting a button or two, but on the Nintendo console, you had to aim your web-shooters at a couple of targets on the cage to attach to it and then pull back with the controllers to rip the bars off.

Of course, that's not the only place the Wii's controls are different. Besides various prompts to shake your controllers, there are parts of boss battles where you go into first-person perspective and attempt to pummel the super-villain into submission. On the Wii, do this by dusting off your Wii-Boxing skills, while the other consoles use the Analog Sticks to accomplish the goal.

The console versions of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions are being developed by Beenox, but the radically different Nintendo DS version is being handled by Griptonite Games.

The basic premise is the same, but instead of taking you through a series of pre-set levels in massive 3D worlds full of enemies to pummel, the DS version of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions takes on a side-scroller perspective that will have you crossing the dimensional borders over and over again, gaining new abilities that let you unlock more areas in each world.

Because of that, the game feels a lot like a Zelda or Metroid title in a way. You will make your way through an area and see lots of paths you can't get through, but later in the game, you will gain the ability to break a grate, or a cement block, and go back to the other areas to open up more parts of the level.

Besides the wall-crawling, side-scrolling aspect of this version of the game, it also offers an interesting twist on how you transition between the dimensions. Instead of simply cutting away and appearing on the other side of the portal, you will travel it by using your stylus to spin the tablet as fast as possible. The more it spins, the faster you travel. The challenge comes in the form of Mysterio's minions who fly towards the tablet piece and attempt to stop it from spinning. Some take a quick tap to get rid of, while others require you to hold down on them for a second or so before they will disappear. This seems to be an interesting mini-game, and while it will start off fairly easy, it promises to ramp up over the course of the game.

I have to say, though, that there is one area this game is sadly lacking, and that's the Ultimate Spider-Man setting. Instead, the developers have put in a fourth, final, world that is going to be where Spidey faces off against Mysterio, and this world will be a hodgepodge of the three other dimensions.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is scheduled to hit the streets on September 7th, so you won't have to wait too long before you get your hands on this tantalizing Spider-Man title, and while the DS game will be drastically different from it's console brothers, it looks like it will still be a game worth looking into, so don't discount it just because it's not the same as the big three.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Related Links:

Multiplatform Mafia II Sony PlayStation Portable Knights in the Nightmare

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated