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.