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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

Score: 97%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is an enjoyable experience that should easily appeal to many gamers, even those with only a casual interest or knowledge in the neighborhood web-slinger. For those hardcore Spidey followers out there, there is enough fan-service to leave you more than satisfied.

The most noticeable appearance of fan service comes in the game's voices. Since Shattered Dimensions spans four different versions of Spider-Man, it seems like the decision to choose which previous voice-actor would take the lead role was made simpler. Instead of focusing on one previous holder of the title character, the developers at Beenox actually approached the four most recent voice actors and used them.

Taking up the role of the main universe, here referred to as Amazing Spider-Man, is Neil Patrick Harris who played in the 2003 series, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. My personal favorite, Christopher Daniel Barnes takes on the role of the license's newest line, Spider-Man Noir, and he comes from the 1994 series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The 2099 version of Spidey is voiced by Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends's Dan Gilvezan and Ultimate Spider-Man's voice is done by the most recent show's main actor, Josh Keaton, this newest show being The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Each Spidey is portrayed very well, and each has a noticeably different attitude. Amazing is more of the classic one-liner Spidey most fans will recognize, while Noir takes on a darker tone with a 1930's dialect. It isn't just the Spider-Men though that have fan-favorite voices. Many of the villains are returning actors from previous Marvel-related products reprising their roles. Nolan North takes up Deadpool again, while Jim Cummings plays both Kraven and Scorpion.

Of course, the visuals are nothing to sneeze at either. Each universe has a fairly unique look to it. Amazing seems to be straight from the comic books, complete with a paper texture, while Ultimate uses the darker blacks and grittier style from that universe. 2099 is all lights and flash and Noir is almost always portrayed as a stark black-and-white, and even when you creep into the light to let some color show, they are far more washed out than in the other universes.


As I said above, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions takes place across four dimensions. When a fight with Mysterio led to Amazing Spider-Man accidentally breaking the Tablet of Order and Chaos, Madame Web showed up and told him that he has to work with other Spider-Men to retrieve all of the pieces and seal the tears in the universe.

The game is separated into several acts, and each one has a round of levels that takes you through each of the universes. The game starts off in the Amazing universe, but once you've beaten that, you can proceed to the others in any order you like. Since each Spider-Man's story is fairly independent of the others, this doesn't cause any problems in the grand scheme of things. Once you've completed all four levels in an act, the next act opens up and you go at it again.

Unfortunately, the levels themselves tend to feel just as formulaic and predicable as the act-based system mentioned above. You will typically start a level and get introduced to the villain that has a piece of the tablet. From there, you encounter tons of their goons, and then finally confront the boss. The first time you fight them, they are their normal selves, but once you beat their butts, they run off and leave a trail of bad guys in their wake. Eventually, you clear the path and make your way back to the boss, and this time he decides to use the magical tablet piece to enhance his abilities. While the game mixes it up a few times, you can expect the same basic pattern each time. Oddly enough, I think this is the first time I've seen a game that consistently makes the boss his own mini-boss.

That's not to say this repetitive gameplay style isn't fun, it is; it just detracts a little bit from the overall experience. Given how well the rest of the game is, this aspect can easily be overlooked.

Hardcore Spider-Man fans will know that not all Spider-Men are created equal. Often times, when a new universe is created, the writers like to tweak the web-head's abilities. Well, with the magic of Madame Web, Shattered Dimensions evens out the skill sets of the four characters, for the most part, but that doesn't mean they are all the same. Quite the contrary actually.

Amazing Spider-Man is the basic Spidey we have all come to love. He uses his webs for everything, including forming fists and clubs to bash enemies with. Ultimate has once again donned the black suit, much to his chagrin, and with that comes a rage bar that does devastating attacks. 2099 levels are faster-paced, and not only give you the ability to slow down time, but also have controlled descents as you chase various villains through the skyscraper-filled landscape of New York City's future.

The most interesting of the four though is Noir. Since this Spidey can't take a lot of bullets, his levels are stealth-based. When controlling the 1933 version of our hero, you stick to the shadows and use your webs to take down enemies from afar. It's hard to play thorough these levels and not think about Batman: Arkham Asylum, but it doesn't feel like these developers took the idea from the most recent Batman title; these mechanics just feel right coming from Spider-Man.


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions lets you decide between three difficulty settings for each level, and based on my time in each setting, they seem to be exactly what you would expect. My setting of choice was Normal, and that provided a nice, steady challenge all the way through. It wasn't until I replayed a level in Hard, that I realized just how much damage I was able to take in the easier setting, and how much tougher the overall game could get, especially when taking on bosses. Conversely, the Easy setting allowed me to quickly breeze through bad guys like nothing, and while probably a good idea for younger gamers still getting their action/adventure legs, it isn't the recommended setting for most gamers out there.

Shattered Dimensions ranks you at the end of each level based on how fast you completed the level, how many collectibles you picked up and how many combos you executed. In each category you are given a bronze, silver or gold medal, and the overall rank for the level is the average of the three. The game also keeps track of which difficulty settings you played the level on, so you can always go back and try to either get all golds, or try again on a harder setting.

Game Mechanics:

That brings me to a couple of interesting mechanics found in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Each level offers a series of challenges that you can try to compete. Some of them have to be done in order to progress in the level, like beat the boss the first time, but many of them are optional. These challenges could be anything from taking down a certain number of bad guys a certain way in Noir levels to making a boss drop a bomb a certain number of times. There are also challenges like beating all the enemies in an area in a time limit, and rescuing various civilians held at gunpoint in the level.

Most likely, you won't be able to complete all of the challenges in a level your first time through, and going back to retry those challenges adds a lot of replayability to Shattered Dimensions. So what's the benefit to completing challenges? For one, it unlocks upgrades that you can purchase. These upgrades range from increased health, rage, accelerated vision bars, to new costumes to more advanced, and devastating, combos. Each of these upgrades must be purchased with Spider Essences, and those are gained by completing challenges and collecting spider emblems that adorn each level.

While the game doesn't offer a lot of levels, I found myself spending 40 or more minutes in pretty much all of them, and because of the ability to go back and replay the levels, and the desire to, thanks to the challenges, I find that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has a good bit of playtime to offer. Overall, the game is great, and a solid experience all the way through. This is a must-buy for any Spidey fans out there, as well as those that just like some hack-n-slash fun.

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

Related Links:

Nintendo Wii Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Windows King's Bounty: Crossworlds

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