Michael Kontoudis
08 Oct, 2010

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

PS3 Review | Shattered Hopes?
Perhaps the most remarkable facet of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, and it’s the thing which will strike you almost immediately upon loading the game, is the clarity and depth of the love with which developer Beenox has taken on the venerable comic book license in this latest videogame adaptation of the web-slinging superhero. From the title screen to the delightful visuals and plethora of popular characters, the game is an obvious love letter to Spider-Man and all true believers. But for all of the love which has been poured into its presentation, does Shattered Dimensions manage to capitalise on the vast potential of its license and become the greatest Spider-Man game ever made?

"I'm the GODDAMN BAT- er, you know."

"I'm the GODDAMN BAT- er, you know."
For a start, the game is certainly true to its source material. Elevating this sense of sincerity is the game’s central gimmick: the ability to play as Spider-Man in four different incarnations, each one based on one of the alternative universes which make up the dizzyingly convoluted Marvel multi-verse. After all, Beenox must have figured, why choose which iteration of Spider-Man to venerate when you can choose four of the best? First off the rank is the Amazing Spider-Man, the most classic version of the web-slinger decked in traditional red and blue garb. Hot on his heels are the Ultimate Spider-Man, still a high-school kid enveloped in the thrall of the black alien symbiote suit, Spider-Man 2099, a futuristic superhero protecting a far-flung New York City, and Spider-Man Noir, a hardboiled crime-fighter of an alternate monochromatic past who does his job steeped in shadow.

These four, disparate realities are brought together by a slender, tidy narrative which sees the Amazing incarnation of Spidey foil a plot by longtime-foe Mysterio to steal an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Order and Chaos. When the aforementioned tablet is accidentally shattered, its handful of powerful fragments are scattered across the multi-verse and wind up in the hands of a bunch of Spider-Man’s arch-nemeses, and it falls to each of the four heroes to reclaim the pieces of the tablet and restore order to existence. All in all, it’s not too bad a premise for a Spider-Man title, and a good excuse to tinker with the designs of some of the web-slinger’s classic enemies, such as the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, each of whom receives an interesting makeover in Shattered Dimensions. While the plot never really goes anywhere very interesting, it is nonetheless more than enough to support the game’s plethora of set-pieces and boss encounters and is aided by some clever writing on the part of comic book scribe Dan Slott, which captures Spider-Man’s snappy witticisms with aplomb.

"Does this look like a bunion to you?"

"Does this look like a bunion to you?"
Shattered Dimensions eschews the open-world design principles forged by the 2004 movie tie-in, Spider-Man 2 and run into the ground by the successively less interesting Ultimate Spider-Man (2005), Spider-Man 3 (2007) and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008). Instead of swinging freely around the umpteenth virtual recreation of Manhattan, Beenox has embraced a linear, focused design based around a dozen discrete levels across a number of acts. To play, Shattered Dimensions is a lean and direct experience. Alternating between levels based in each of the four realities on offer, players will spend most of their time engaged in melee brawls with cookie cutter goons and regular boss encounters with various members of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. The game’s levels, each hemmed by invisible walls, are largely gauntlets with plenty of points to which Spidey can web-zip with a simple tap of the right trigger or web-swing across by holding the same button. While each of the four realities boasts a unique visual style, all the iterations of Spider-Man play nearly identically, save for the Noir version. General movement is precise, but stiff and inelegant, and the game’s combat system is prone to button-mashing, and the experience tends to degenerate into spastic flailing and dodging.

The Noir levels, on the other hand, bear a heavy focus on stealth in lieu of melee attacks, and take their cues from the predatory mechanics on offer in games like Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sticking to the shadows and silently picking off armed henchmen is an interesting way of re-imagining the abilities of the web-slinger, and the Noir levels are ultimately the ones which offer any sense of variety in Shattered Dimensions. Having said that, none of the game’s levels are free from technical or design issues, ranging from an unreliable camera to shoddy collision detection which often sees Spider-Man fail to stick to a wall and, instead, plummet to an embarrassing death. Compounding the problem is the game’s predictable pacing and repetitive structure, which inevitably sees Spidey chasing a boss character across a level and encountering him a number of times before reclaiming a piece of the mystical tablet. While the bosses and levels which house them often sport wonderful designs or an epic sense of scale, there is little in the way of either peaks or troughs to demarcate the hour-to-hour game experience.

Do you like walloping nameless goons? We sure hope so.

Do you like walloping nameless goons? We sure hope so.
Aesthetically, Shattered Dimensions is largely beyond reproach. Each of the game’s realities boasts a distinctive visual style, from the tactile comic book colours of the Amazing universe and the stark, gritty styling of the Noir version of New York City to the neon-soaked glare of the year 2099. Character models are chunky, evocative, and well-animated, and from an artistic vantage there is a wealth of variety for the eyes to savour. The frame rate can suffer dips during the most hectic encounters, but on the whole, this is a handsome production which does justice to its source material. In terms of audio, superlative voice acting from a stellar cast is the capper to the game’s generally wonderful presentation. Neil Patrick Harris lends his wit to the Amazing Spider-Man, while a slew of actors from the various animated series succeed in breathing life to the other incarnations of the web-slinger. Shattered Dimensions is a frequently hilarious and charming game, largely thanks to the efforts of its cast and solid direction.

While Shattered Dimensions is of average length, clocking in at approximately ten hours duration, the scant collection of unlockable costumes is unlikely to prove compelling enough to justify a second outing, especially in light of the game’s flat, monotonous rhythm and the uninspiring padding which surrounds each of the game’s memorable boss battles. Those with obsessive compulsive inclinations may find value in the game’s assortment of collectable trinkets and hidden doodads, but for most, one trek through Shattered Dimensions will probably suffice.

We imagine Rocksteady Studios is already on the phone to its lawyers.

We imagine Rocksteady Studios is already on the phone to its lawyers.
What a pity it is to report, then, that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is nowhere near polished enough to live up to its stellar presentation and the obvious love which has been poured into it. It appears that time is the web-slinger’s most devious foe; given another six or twelve months in development, Beenox could have crafted Shattered Dimensions into something truly special. As it is, the sacrifice of the open-world design feels like a waste and an unworthy trade-off. A renewed focus on linearity and set-piece moments should have resulted in a slick, polished and consistently thrilling experience, but in many ways, Shattered Dimensions feels underdone, which is a devastating disappointment given its vast albeit sadly-unrealised potential. Definitely worth a rental for the true believers who will derive a kick out of the fan-service on offer, but that is as far as our recommendation can extend.
The Score
Slick visuals, a witty script, and a memorable tour of Spider-Man’s compelling rogues gallery are ultimately undone by dreary pacing and a pervading sense that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions remains sadly unfinished. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
7 is the highest I would also give the game though I thinnk I would lean more towards 6/10.

I think the controls should have been mentioned a bit more.The controls are crap and flat out annoying.I'm sick and tired of pulling off actions that I don't want to do because of the cheapened controls.They make it so easy to do everything but with that easiness comes unwanted difficulty as you are constantly web zipping to places you don't want to or Web zipping to enemies when you want to throw something at them instead.
3 years ago
Gamesta wrote
They make it so easy to do everything but with that easiness comes unwanted difficulty
So the easy controls are difficult?
3 years ago
Hmm... This is the first Spiderman game I've played, so I can't compare it to previous iterations, but I'm having and absolute blast with this game!

While the controls took a bit of getting used to, now I'm not having any problems whatsoever - so can't agree with Gamesta either, they seem fine to me.

It seems to be getting mixed reviews around the traps, some (like this one) average and others raveing. One reviewer even gave it a 10/10 and called it the game of the year so far. While I wouldn't quite go that far (also haven't finished it yet), I'm really having a lot of fun with it - can't put the controller down.
3 years ago
To me it felt like a step down from Web of Shadows, which was just about perfect, in my opinion. It's like they've taken the controls (in terms of how Spidey moves) back to the rigid ways of the first Spider-man game on the original playstation (about 10 years ago now ?).

I find it amusing in the preview interviews with the development team behind the game, who worked on porting previous Spidey games to other platforms... now standing on their own with their own game that they are in charge of. It's not something that i'd be beating my chest and saying, it's just not as crisp as Web of Shadows.

I will say that i love the first person combat part though (when battling bosses).
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Gamesta wrote
They make it so easy to do everything but with that easiness comes unwanted difficulty
So the easy controls are difficult?
I thought I made it clear what I meant.The controls are basic and can be used so easily that it's far to eay to pull off moves you don't want to.Many times I want to grab something to throw back at an enemy.But because web zipping and grabbing an object use the same button, you web zip when you want to grab and vice versa.

Web zipping from one place to anbother is also hard at times because of how easy it is to web zip and how many places are in close proximity.Web zipping is as easy as pressing L2.But often you web zip to some place other than where you want to web zip.Because web zipping is pre-determined, you can't just web zip to wherever you want.

If that doesn't make sense then the only way you could understand what I mean is to play the game.

AlaCarcuss wrote
While the controls took a bit of getting used to, now I'm not having any problems whatsoever - so can't agree with Gamesta either, they seem fine to me.
Could be that I play the game too fast maybe? I don't take my time with the gameplay.Maybe because the game is really that boring that I want to quickly beat all the levels so that I can watch the story and see the villains I have never seen before.

If it wasn't for the fact that I like the humour, I want to see the story to the end and I want to see the new villains, I would have returned it.

Honestly I thin SM:SD is the worst SM game I have played since SM: The Animated Series on SNES.It's even worse that SM3 on PS3.

I have loved SM:TAS all the way from to SM Web of Shadows with SM3 really being the only disappointing game I have played before SM:SD.
3 years ago
I'm really enjoying it. I've been increasingly bored of the Spidey games since the second attempt at the open world design. This one feels more like a traditional action game, but it's actually a breath of fresh air for the character. It provides a little more creativity, web swinging through different environments instead of the same New York skyline over and over ... and over.

It isn't perfect, but I've had a lot of fun with it. The story's well put together, the voice cast did a great job (I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard during an action game), there's a ton of references to other franchises besides Spidey, and yes they can be twitchy, but the controls felt right to me. It's a decent combination of web swinging and all out combat. I'm actually wondering whether they should delve deeper into the Noir-verse, it's a nice change of pace. Nothing like webbing a bad guy to the rafters.
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Australian Release Date:
  29/09/2010 (Confirmed)
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