McGrady Review: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Hey, it's Chancho McGrady here. No that is not my real name, its just the name I use. I prefer McGrady.
Sure this game came out a year ago, but if you didn't get an opportunity to experience it, here's your chance to find out if the game is worth buying. Does the game live up to its positive critical reception? How does this compare with other Spider-Man games? Click the jump to find out!
Also, before we begin, you may want to note my rating/ranking system:
On November 25, 2010, Beenox released its first superhero game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (the game was published by Activision). Sure, it has been a little over a year, but I recently bought the game for Playstation 3. Having played and beaten it, it is now time for me to review it. The question is: was it a triumph or a disappointment?
To answer that question, I'm going to break the game down into several sections. For those of you who are very interested, I recommend reading it thoroughly, for those who simply want some main points, try to skim it. Keep in mind that this review (as all my future reviews will be) is spoiler free.
The game takes players across four different dimensions (or universes) of Spider-Man: Amazing, Noir, 2099, and Ultimate; each bringing different and unique gameplay to the game. The game shifts between dimensions from mission to mission. Each mission is boss-based, the players are pursuing, battling, or escaping an iconic enemy from the comics. However the missions are also filled with enemies, problem-solving, chases, and environmental dangers. I will explain each dimension in further detail later on.
This game is a departure from the traditional Spider-Man formula: it's not open world. It is very linear, which some fans (particularly those who like Spider-Man 2) criticized heavily. However this linear feel could not be more suited to the game. The game is not entirely linear, each level has many secrets to find. Personally, I think that this linear storyline is more suited to the game, and makes all the levels very unique, avoiding the repetition of stopping the same crime over and over again.
As the player progresses, there are Spider Emblems which give the players Spider Essence and Health. Spider Essence allows players to purchase new abilities or extras (such as costumes). These abilities and extras are unlocked by completing challenges (of which the game has a total of 180). The abilities can range from increasing the player's health regeneration to a new combo ending in a powerful uppercut. The game also has three difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, and Hard) so the player can replay levels and up the ante.
The Spider Sense returns, allowing players to dodge incoming attacks or find the next objective. Players also save hostages and defend allies.
The game sees players battle iconic villains such as Kraven, Vulture, Hobgoblin, and Deadpool, each of which provides a very fun boss experience. The player is also pitted against unique enemies, each level bringing new unique enemy types so that the player never has to battle the old ones. I never got sick of the enemies. Another feature of this game is first-person combat, which plays a key role in boss battles. This allows the player to battle the enemy from Spidey's view, throwing punches and jabs and avoiding deadly swipes. This is a very fun aspect of gameplay.
The only point of criticism to the gameplay is its relatively short length. With under eight hours of gameplay in the main story, this game did feel short, but its replay value counters that feeling. In comparison with other Spider-Man games, this is definitely my favorite. Despite the fact that games Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man were very good, they were oftentimes repetitive and frustrating. With Shattered Dimensions, those feelings don't exist.
Overall, despite any criticizing, this game's gameplay rocks. This game is incredibly fun with dramatically unique levels (not to mention the dimensions, which is explained later) and moves. Unlike most single player games, this game has a lot of replay value due to the high amount of challenges, abilities, extras, and difficulty settings. Gameplay is definitely this game's strong point.
It's hard to make a verdict on the graphics of this game. The videos were clearly very comic-book-like, yet were very realistic. The gameplay was even more comic-book like, however it didn't seem that realistic. Obviously graphics is not really what I was looking for in this game, but it is noticeable. They were highly detailed, they just didn't seem realistic, but perhaps that was the intention. However each dimension/universe did have its own artistic style; to the Noir universe being very dim and dark, with the colors being drained from the screen when players were obscured; to the bright details of the Amazing universe; to the shiny vibrant feel of the 2099 universe; to the very comic-y feel of the Ultimate universe. The graphics were not necessarily realistic, but somehow, they were still very good.
The plot unfortunately, is probably the game's weak point. The concept is very creative: Spider-Man accidentally shatters the Tablet of Order and Chaos while battling Mysterio, sending its power-granting fragments sprawling across four dimensions. However there is very little plot development, the fragments are simply taken by villains who desire their power. There is a twist at the end of the second act, but it doesn't raise the stakes as much as it should. However despite the cheesy plot progression, I was able to enjoy the game's plot because Stan Lee narrated the game!
Next, I am going to briefly break down each universe to give you a more specific idea of what to expect with this game.
First appearing in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, the Amazing Spider-Man received his own series in 1963, and the character has been a pure icon ever since. In this universe, Spider-Man is voiced by "How I Met Your Mother"'s Neil Patrick Harris. Harris truly brings the witty humor of Spider-Man to life, filling his jokes with cliches and a humorous range of pessimism and optimism. The gameplay in this universe consists of innovative web combat, each ability bringing new web powers such as web hammers. This dimension has the feel of previous Spider-Man games but with an updated combat system and more unique and fun levels.
Set in 1933, this alternative version of Spider-Man surfaced back in 2009 with the Marvel Noir continuity. The gameplay in this universe is incredibly different from any other Spider-Man game, and maybe any game period. The gameplay is stealth based, and the player must stick to the shadows, taking out enemies from a distance. When the player is concealed, the screen turns black and white. It even manages to bring stealth into part of the boss battles. Sure there are moments when the player simply brawls enemies, but those are very fun as Spider-Man Noir has a unique fighting style. If the player is seen, they must escape back to the shadows (web-zipping comes in handy here) and avoid detection until enemies give up. I hate to pick, but if I had to, I'd say this dimension was my favorite.
In 2099, Miguel O'Hara defends a futuristic New York City. First appearing in the Amazing Spider-Man and going on to star in the Marvel 2099 comic line, this Spider-Man is quite unique. The gameplay in this universe is very agility based. Spider-Man fights with speed and uses his advanced suit to battle enemies. This mode also features segments where the player must glide downward through the city, avoiding obstacles in pursuit of or escaping from potential danger. Featured in this universe is Accelerated Vision, which allows players to easily foresee enemy attacks and escape homing projectiles. This universe is definitely awesome.
First published in 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man is a different take on Peter Parker. In this game, Ultimate Spider-Man has put on the black suit (symbiote) to help him battle enemies. Combat involves using tendrils and spikes from the suit, and Spider-Man is very strong, able to take on hordes of enemies at once. Featured in this universe is Rage Mode, in which the player temporarily deals very high damage to enemies. This dimension also has a trend of being incredibly epic. Whether its avoiding an electrical explosion, escaping a crashing security transport, or surviving tsunamis, this mode is full of intense moments. Ultimate really is the only way to describe it.
Overall, this game was sweet. It had a few shortcomings and could not be considered perfect, but it is very fun and well worth the money. I give Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions a 9/10, awarding it the Incredible rating.
I apologize if this review seemed too lengthy, I'll try to be better in the future. Let me know how it was in the comments section below and how I can improve. McGrady out!
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