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Four Spider-Men are better than one

Oct 6, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsWhat's better than having ONE friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man? How about FOUR friendly neighbourhood Spider-Men?

Yes, you read correctly, true believer. There are four wallcrawlers in Activision's latest entry in the Spidey series: 'Shattered Dimensions'. In fact, there are so many, you might wanna grab a notebook and sketch out one of those flowcharts Reed Richards is so fond of.

Rather than some criminal mastermind like The Kingpin or The Green Goblin messing things up for Aunt May's baby boy this time, it is Peter Parker himself who fouls up not only one reality or time stream but four. Way to go, wallcrawler!

Well, if you are going to mess things up, you might as well mess them up REAL good. The four realities: Amazing, Noir, 2099, and Ultimate, get turned all upside down when Spidey attempts to stop Mysterio from stealing the "Tablet of Order and Chaos". Spider-Man accidentally punches said tablet, shattering it into a bunch of pieces over the four realities.

Enlisting the help of Madame Web, who guides the adventure and even boosts Spider-Man's powers, Spider-Man Noir (a 1930's Spidey), Spider-Man 2099 (a possible future version) and the Ultimate Spider-Man (younger and bonded with the alien Venom) band together in their own separate worlds to find the shattered fragments and put the Tablet back together.

There is just one thing: the pieces of the Tablet have fallen into the hands of a host of villains who are not really all that excited about surrendering the fragments and the power they possess.

Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsEach 'Shattered Dimensions' level is themed and built around a specific baddie. It is a shrewd way of tying everything together. For example, the first level spotlights the Kraven the Hunter and takes place in the Amazing dimension and a jungle. The second takes place in the Noir Universe with Hammerhead in an abandoned train yard. Each dimension has its own individual elements too. There are flying missions in 2009 and Miguel O'Hara has the ability to initiate "bullet time" to dodge attacks. Noir is a 'Splinter Cell' experience with Spider-Man in complete stealth mode, taking villains by surprise from the shadows. In Ultimate, it is all about whipping and bashing enemies with your symbiotic and Rage powers. Web-based attacks dominate the Amazing dimension. There are supplemental challenges to each level as well. Points gained from those and each level allow you to buy power combos, new abilities, art and different Spider-Man skins to use in the game.

Intermingled with those basic elements are first-person fighting sequences. You use the joysticks to punch and dodge your foes in an up close and personal fist fight brawl. Oh, yeah. It is a pleasure to get in the Vulture's face and pummel the crap out of him in a first-person perspective.

Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsNicely done, Beenox.

In all the dimensions, Spider-Man can use his famous spider-sense. The ability kinda works like "detective mode" in 'Batman: Arkham Asylum". With it, the wallcrawler can see through walls, target enemies and key targets or goals. The thing is, the spider-sense seems to have a "sense" of its own and sometimes toggles on/off when you lease expect it. It is definitely annoying when you are on a mission to say…destroy hovering television cameras during the Deadpool level.

Speaking of annoying, the worst part of 'Shattered Dimensions' comes as a total surprise as it should be the most basic ability in any 'Spider-Man' game and that is the web-slinging. It is atrocious, partly because of a camera that goes nutty at times. Simply getting from Point A to Point B can be as maddening as listening to Doc Ock natter on and on about world domination, yet again.

Let's put it this way, the web-slinging is so awful the developers put in a fail safe so if you ever fall because the outcroppings are in your way or you find yourself with no hot spot to web to, all you have to do is hit the RT as you tumble and Spidey will fire a life-saving web strand. It is a very good thing that web-swinging is not a core component or necessary power. The web-crawling ain't that much better either. Those outcroppings can really hinder and frustrate your movement.

Damn you outcroppings. Damn you to hell.

Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsWhat Beenox really nailed was the animation and the tone of the Spider-Man series. The scripting really pinned down the different characters and there are some really great one-liners that could only come from Spider-Man. Even if some of the level formatting is repetitious, the cut-scenes and dialogue wash down that bitter pill nicely.

The voice casting department deserves special mention for being able to round up all of the Spidey voice actors from some of the assorted television animated series. Neil Patrick Harris ('Spider-Man: The New Animated Series') is the Amazing Spider-Man, Christopher Daniel Barnes ('Spider-Man: The Animated Series") is Spider-Man Noir, Dan Gilvezan ('Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends") portrays Spider-Man 2099 and Josh Keaton ('The Spectacular Spider-Man') is Ultimate Spider-Man.

Once hopelessly mired in the Lizard's swamp water, the Spider-Man video game franchise is one of the crown jewels in Activision catalogue of titles. Just when you think nothing could top 'Web of Shadows', along comes 'Shattered Dimensions' to steal away the title. There is no where to go but up, that's if they can fix the darn web-slinging.

 

Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsSpider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://spidermandimensions.marvel.com

Rating: 9 / 10

 

 

 
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