Monday, October 4, 2010

Spider-man Shattered Dimensions Review: More is Better?

This time Activision's time to attempt at making a good super-hero game. Following the steps of the huge success that Batman Arkham Asylum had. Will they pull through? This time there will be multiple Spider-mans to play with different abilities and powers. Hit the jump to read the review

The story starts off with you playing as the Amazing Spider-man, and you shattering a tablet into a bunch of pieces. Each piece of the tablet contains mystical powers within them that shouldn't be in the hands of evil. The goal of the game is to play through the game as different Spider-men from different dimensions to reassemble this tablet. In the end it's a cheap plot device that allows the developers to tie all the different Spider-man universes together.

You get to play as the Amazing Spider-man which focuses on agility, Noir Spider-man which focuses on stealth, Spider-man 2099 which focuses on speed and Ultimate Spider-man which focuses on Power. Also Amazing, Ultimate and 2099 feel pretty same...

The gameplay of Shattered Dimensions was designed around the fact that you would get to play as four different Spider-men. Also like I said before three of the four of these Spider-men are pretty much the same, there are slight differences in each character (apart from their clothes obviously...) that only a die-hard Spider-man fan will truly care about.

Each and every single level is pretty much identical with the exception of one mission. You start a level meeting/encouter the villian for that level, then you follow path where you'll need to do side missions to move on, like saving hostages or taking out guys etc. Once you get to the end you fight the boss and level is over.

Navigation and Movement
Movement for all the Spider-men are the same... swing, and zipping around feels the same... the only real difference is that you are performing these same actions in different environments. Spider-man 2099 changes things up a little bit and you get to perform chases where your just falling down and your are zipping through the air. Camera angles also screw up when you are wall crawling from a wall to a ceiling or just around an edge. How can you possibily screw up something like wall crawling for a superhero game whose nickname is THE WALL CRAWLER? Blows my mind.

I am going to talk about Noir Spider-man last, when playing as Amazing, Ultimate or 2099 the game feels very much the same... there's a boss to defeat, there are waves and waves of enemies to kill, and really just like the general gameplay the only bit that is really different is the surroundings of where you are fighting. There is a different key ability for each spiderman though, for 2099 the fighting changes because you fly through the sky and you get the ability to slow down time. In Ultimate Spider-man the rage mode is fun to play for a bit before it is mind numbing because you get to deal out a lot more damage.

Noir's gameplay is the only one that is truely different from others. Noir, like all superheroes who aren't bulletproof, is weak against opponents that use guns and you game forces you to take down all your opponents by hiding from line of sight and staying in the shadows. It made the game bearable to be honest...

Every emblem you pick up, every enemy you kill and every achievement (or challenge as the game calls it...) will give you experience, the more achievements you unlock the more upgrades will be avaliable to you to purchase for your Spider-men, the upgrades and enhancements range from more health, better skills, alternate costumes and more. Its a fairly simple system, but the problem I find with games like these is that the longer you play the game the lazier you will get and you get stuck with your own play/fighting style when taking on enemies. What this means is that you will usually try out new moves/techniques once or twice but if for instance the inputs are too much trouble or not even worth getting then you won't even need to upgrade from the basic moves you used at lower levels. Fortunely there are other things to spend your experience on, like alternate costumes.

Overall Spider-man Shattered Dimensions has a great look environments are nice and come in a large variety, from jungles, oil rigs, futuristic skyscrapers and even an old carnival. Also the visual aren't spectacularly stunning it works and gives the 1990s cartoon series vibe to it.

There is some great voice acting in the game as well, though i have to say there were times where it felt to me that the words weren't in sync with the lips. Overall it was a great cast Neil Patrick Harris as Amazing, Dan Gilvezan as 2099 who also did the voice of Spider-man in Spider-man and His Amazing Friends back in the 1980s. There is also so many things that each Spider-man says in each level that you never really get tired of the voice acting until you get to the end or if you start dying alot. Which is great in my mind because Spider-man does trash talk a lot to his enemies.

This game showed a lot of potential to become one of the first good Spider-man games out there, but it failed to deliever due to the lack of gameplay variety. It was noted in press conference after press conference they said they wanted to stress the different gameplay mechanics. The fact is 3 out of 4 are the exact same and don't deviate from each other that much. The only one was different was Noir, but that was almost a total rip off other stealth games like Splinter Cell Conviction and Batman Arkham Aslyum. Anyone who is a fan of Spider-man should definelty check out this game, but since the game can be completed in less than 10 hours a rental will probably be sufficent. Maybe I was expecting too much out of this game, after seeing the success of Batman Arkham Aslyum I thought that superhero games would actually get better. Well it is, but just not a whole much better. Good try Activision and Beenox, but its just at the level this Marvel superhero deserves.

Oh yeah another thing that I wanted to point out, the game shipped with a "secret code" to get a free Negative Spider-man costume, but it wasn't something thats a code where you redeem it was just something that could of been included in the game from the start. There hasn't been any downloadable content for the game yet as of right now but lets hope there are episodic levels for different Spider-men or something along those lines.

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