Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (Available on PS3 and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Release Date: September 7th, 2010

Parent Talk: This is a Spider-Man game…do you think it’s appropriate for your children?  Do you read the comics kids enjoy? What’s that, you don’t buy comics for your kids?! Shame on you!  The truth is that today’s comics are far more graphic than anything featured in Shattered Dimensions.  The ESRB rates it T for teen; I rate it E for everyone. Who do you side with?

By skimming through this article (which you’ve probably done since you’re awesome), it’s obvious that we didn’t use our spiffy new review format.  Ahmed and Justin would be most displeased. Let me explain. Shattered Dimensions has been available about a month, so you likely know everything about it. To compensate, Steven and I are taking it up a notch. Below is a figurative Q&A format directed by two hardcore Spider-Man fans, Steven and yours truly. You should know that we look forward to our comics single week to learn the latest on your friendly neighborhood Spidey. I encourage you to read our discussion even if Spider-Man isn’t your thing. Trust me; you won’t leave disappointed.

Question – For starters, tell the audience a little bit about your personal experience with Spider-Man?

Jarrod: I started reading Spider-Man comics before most of my staff knew what a comic was.  I relate to Peter Parker in the sense that I’ve always wanted to achieve greatness…though my uncle didn’t die, and I wasn’t an omega nerd (*erm*). Anyways I now have a complete run of every Spidey printed after years of collecting.

Steven: I’ve liked Peter Parker for as long as I’ve known him.  A few years ago, I began looking at his older stories.  Since then, I’ve become a complete Spider-Man nut. My personal collection holds every Spider-Man comic since issue #500.

Question – How does Shattered Dimensions compare to recent Spider-Man games?

Steven: Though I miss the sandbox design of Web of Shadows, SD introduces an element totally unique to Spider-Man by featuring four different incarnations of the superhero in a single game. To my knowledge, no other superhero game has attempted this.  Despite it being somewhat repetitive and linear, each stage offers a unique flavor of gameplay, which helps set Shattered Dimensions apart from its predecessors.

Jarrod: I agree, Steven. The game is repetitive because of lesser freedom, but the trade-off is interesting.  I especially enjoyed the Noir portions because they’re so unconventional for a Spider-Man game. Perhaps someday a balance between the two styles can be achieved, whereby multiple sub-genres are integrated into a sandbox world.

Steven: The Noir levels were different all right…I’ve grown fond of stealthy Spidey. Fighting is no easy task, however. He easily defeats the goons from the 30s when they’re oblivious, but the minute they see Peter, webbing attacks previously used for stealth take-downs no longer work (even if it’s one-on-one!). Other areas are similar gameplay-wise, but with better combat. My favorite by far features Deadpool…the guy’s hilarious!

Jarrod: My gripe with different dimensions lies with the added abilities each Spider-Man receives. Since when did Noir Spidey shoot webs? How about the 2099 Spidey? I would have preferred these characters to wield their original comic powers, which could’ve allowed SD to be even more unique than it already is. I vote for Deadpool portion as well.  I laughed my butt off!

Question – What about the visuals? Four different universes must be hard to deliver.

Jarrod: I didn’t find the divergences to be drastic. Despite the obvious differences, they’re all similar at heart.  My disappointment lies with how attractive the Noir dimension is compared to the others.  That’s not to say the other worlds don’t contain knickknacks to create more authenticity (e.g. 2099 dimension features tons of flying cars, the Ultimate dimension is more cel-shaded), they just pale in comparison to Noir.

Steven: Amazing is pretty cool because it’s only universe that felt like a comic book. Noir was the best-looking hands-down. However, I had the Spider Sense filter turned on most of the time so I wouldn’t miss any secrets, which made the presentation less appealing.  (Detective Mode/Arkham Asylum anyone?)

Jarrod: Good point. With Spider Sense on, all the environments look identical, including the Noir ones. I too used Spider Sense a lot.  For speed runs, however, I was able to enjoy the rich graphics by opting out of the filter.

Question – What about the storyline?

Steven: The plot is the awful.  It’s generic; villain walks into a not-so-well-hidden place, steals an overly powerful, completely unprotected artifact, and becomes a god. The artifact shatters, and each piece lands in other villains’ hands, making them more powerful.  Even if the plot is just an excuse to get you playing, it ticks me off how poorly Parker is handled. He’s supposed to be a cheesy wisecrack, but fails to take anything seriously either.  Peter scoffs at everything with a lame joke.  This is only 50% of Spider-Man’s character, because he at least tries to reason with villains from time to time.

Jarrod: Making matters worse, the plot was written by the infamous scribe of ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, Dan Slott. He’s done such a great job and I can’t wait for his ‘Big Time’ arc to begin, but SD is generic and soulless. I never believed that the real Peter was under that mask.

Question – Anything to add before the “final say”?

Jarrod: If you adore Deadpool, you should seriously consider SD. His stage overflows with one-liners and quick jabs at Spidey that induce laugh out loud moments. Props to Dan for that at least.

Steven: I couldn’t stop laughing as well. He nailed Deadpool. Just pause the game during his shenanigans to understand what we mean. I must also add that the challenges are a blast, and completing them increases the replayability by five hours.  Moreover, SD is packed with faithful Spider-Man factoids and unlockable costumes that will make fanboys drool.

Jarrod: Oh yeah! You Ben Reilly fans would be in heaven. Scarlet Spider…need I say more? I loved unlocking most of the achievements.  It’s why we wrote this review a lot later than usual.

Question – Who should buy this?

Jarrod: Everyone!  It’s better than the air we breathe! *Ahem*  Anyone who loves Spider-Man should Shattered Dimensions because there’s so much to take in for the hardcore fan.

Question – As for the general audience?

Steven: Try it. SD probably won’t be spectacular for non-Spidey fans. It’s a solid game that might be worth purchasing if you have extra cash lying around. Yet there are tons of other great games hitting the shelves in the weeks to come.  We won’t hold a grudge if you prefer to look elsewhere.

Question – Final say? And what do you expect from future Spidey games?

Jarrod: I think Beenox handled SD well. I’m hoping for more variety next time, not to mention incorporation of a little more freedom into the adventure.  At the end of the day, their hard effort shows how much they care about the franchise.  We should look forward to more quality products…

Steven: Shattered Dimensions was made for maniacs like us, but Beenox could’ve taken notes from previous Spider-Man games. I want the next one to return to the good ol’ open-world setting. Swinging around New York City has always been a blast.  That freedom is the closest you’ll ever be to feeling like Spidey.  I have great memories with SD, yet not without associated inconveniences that I’ll never forget. Will we ever get a good Spider-Man story in a videogame? Please, take the character more seriously, Beenox.

4 thoughts on “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review”

  1. I really enjoyed the Q&A idea presented here. It’s the most efficient way to have two different opinions in one article. As I read through, it really made me wish that an audio or a video version of the review was recorded. One nitpick with a text Q&A is that it shows that you guys are basically completing each other’s sentences instead of offering two opposing opinions. Works well for the review itself, but discussion-wise it may look generic. Although I do like that each of you focused on certain likes even though your dislikes were virtually the same.

    As for my opinion of the game, I do agree with you guys on certain things: especially how Noir Spidey is the coolest thing ever! I also enjoy the Ultimate Universe look and gameplay, too. It’s unique enough to stand apart from the rest, but Noir is just in another league. Everything about that dimension is pure genius!

    Unlike you guys, I really enjoy Spidey’s wisecracks and the overall storyline. Yes, it’s cheesy…but it’s so obvious that this has been the developer and writer’s intentions especially with the Amazing Universe. My guess is that they’re likening each universe (the big lore ones, Ultimate and Amazing, at least) to the early comic books instead of the late ones you guys have been reading to this very day. Also, Amazing SO reminds me of the cartoons, which is how I’m viewing this world especially. That’s why I appreciate it instead of loathe it. The hate coming from you both is kind of misplaced since these games are meant to liken to the early Spidey, but I understand where you’re coming from as well, fresh out of the masterpiece that is Batman: Arkham Asylum.

    One criticism is that Amazing and Ultimate are very similar with the jokes and attitude of Spidey, while 2099 has a classier feel and Noir is just plain dark. Even the storytelling in Noir is extremely well put together, listening to the enemies chitchatting while sneaking behind them in the shadows. That’s just pure gold right there.

    Another thing I was curious about is what you guys thought of the cut-scenes and voice acting. I know you guys love Deadpool (haven’t reached that yet), but how about everything else? And those first-person cut-scenes and boss gameplay? I personally really liked those despite the critics hating on it, as if the developer’s are sort of teasing us with a first person Spider Man game or something.

  2. Those first-person scenes were boring Ahmed! lol. Didn’t even think they warrant a mention. I guess some will like them, as for me, I found them worthless.

    As for the story, I guess it depends on how you view it. Spiderman himself is a jokster most of the time, but his life is far from being funny. This kid lost his uncle (we all know why he still feels remorse to this day) and the love of his life was killed in front of his own eyes while he failed to save her. The jokes are just a way for spidey to hide his low level of self-confidence. It’s a trademark for the character (sadly, a trademark that all characters in comics now have) but its not the only aspect of his personality. In this game, it is.

  3. There were two brilliant ideas when Spider-Man was originally created, and Steven just named one of them. He’s exactly right, by using humour to cover up his self-confidence, it allowed him to overcome great odds. There’s a truly spectacular moment in Origin of the Species that shows how enemies view Spidey when he’s not always joking around. As for that second idea, it’s the fact that he wears a mask. See when Spidey was first created he was done so as a teenager, and at that point in time, teenagers were sidekicks not the star of their own comic. The mask put the Man in Spider-Man. Combing these two elements made him something no other hero was, he was an ordinary teenager with all the same problems as everyone else, except he had exceptional powers. Bottom line, Steven is very right in what he’s saying. The modern times have really altered people’s perception of what it means to be Spider-Man.

    Ok so now that the deep part of the conversation is over with lol. Let’s talk about the first-person portions of the game. What I liked with them was it allowed you to beat up on the main villains. Therein lies the problem as well. While it’s great being so close to Kraven, Hobgoblin, etc, it’s lame that every single boss battle had these elements. It would have been cool to have, say the final boss of the game, play out like that but it got old extremely fast.

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