The opportunity to zip around the city from rooftop to lamppost and crack wise at the bad guys is why Spider-Man never leaves the game scene for very long. He's a fun superhero to pretend to be. And in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions you get a chance to do just that, times four.
That's right, four different Spider-Men. The Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and the newest wall-crawler to the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man Noir. The plot's pretty simple. The evil magician Mysterio has "shattered" the Tablet of Order and Chaos and in the process sent the fragments to four other "dimensions." All the different Spider-Men must collect the pieces in their respective universes and return them to Madame Web to be reassembled and return order to the multiverse.
Of course you'll have to snatch them from the clutches of the world's most evil villains before they use them to do bad guy stuff.
Playing the game is similar to the other Spider-Man games from Activision. You have to collect token objects to gain points that you can use to buy special abilities and powers. The upgrades are necessary to keep up with the powerful bosses in each advancing level.
Controls are almost identical to previous versions. The only difference, and it's a nice one, is the up-close combat. During heavy boss fights you may have to grapple with the evil-doer and duke things out comic-book style. In this feature you use the sticks to deliver jabs, hooks, and crosses while dodging the same from the villain.
The real hook in this Spider-Man title is playing four different versions of him, especially Spider-Man Noir, who makes his outstanding debut. We're all familiar with the Amazing Spider-Man in red and blue tights. Classic. Most will remember the Ultimate Spider-Man with a black symbiotic suit that uses tentacles and who has rage issues. Some may have heard of Spider-Man 2099, a future copycat guy named Miguel O'Hara who uses a sort of Spidey suit on steroids to mimic the real deal.
But most will be surprised to learn of Marvel's newest dimension, the Noir Universe. The time is 1933 and a scratchy, black and white film sets the mood like those early detective flicks. It was introduced about a year or so ago in the comic world and the setting fits the newest Spidey like a full-body leotard, so who better to reveal it to the gaming world?
Unlike the other Spider-Men, Noir must rely on stealth to achieve victory. Moving through the shadows, he must take down his foes one by one on his way to the boss. This was by far the most enjoyable part of the game. Dashing from the darkness to drill some baddies and then retreating back to the shadows may not be Spider-Man's typical MO, but there was definitely something Spidey about it. The feel wasn't as much like playing Spider-Man as it was like playing a spider. The Noir Universe is an easy sell for the gaming world, and I'd venture a guess that we will be seeing more Marvel superheroes in games to come.
There are some glitches in the graphics and animations, but the playing experience was more than enough to overshadow these negatives. Shattered Dimensions without Noir would be a solid web-slinging experience. With the Noir addition it's enough to make a Spider-Man fan swing from the rafters.
Contact Tom Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org