Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Wii | Activision | 1 Player | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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18th November 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
The game starts off by introducing you to a visually-pleasing cutscene where the entire story begins to take form. Spider-Man locates Mysterio who has his sights set on a mysterious tablet that threatens to disrupt the fabric of time and space. In an attempt to bring him down, however, Spider-Man unwittingly shatters the tablet, shattering into small fragments. These fragments are spread out across multiple dimensions in time, thus Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is born. With Madame Web as your guide, you and three other Spider-Man doppelgangers will fight villains in search of these fragments. And, in so doing, the four of you might be able to restore the tablet to its original form before Mysterio does. I thought they played it very safe with the story, but perhaps this was done to make sure emphasis was placed on gameplay. But still, you can't help but notice the underwhelming structure.
Early on, Shattered Dimensions redeems itself of this not-so-impressive component. For one, it's hard not to notice the quality voice acting that went into this. As if this wasn't enough, the dialogue that takes place between the four counterparts and the numerous villains is both witty and memorable. Each level in the game is represented by the silhouette of the main villain you'll need to confront. When you first begin, a cutscene will play that almost looks as though a comic book were in the process of becoming a full-motion animation. Getting treated to these story-filling clips each time is such a treat, simply because they look really good. You'll find that each chapter carries its own sub-story that links back to the overall plot, which in turn means the story isn't completely flat.
After getting through the introductory sequence, you'll get thrown into the Tutorial to learn the controls. Ground movement is controlled through the Nunchuk's Analog Stick, and by approaching walls, you can automatically scale them thanks to Spider-Man's special suit. Pressing the Minus Button will activate your Spider-Sense, useful for pinpointing where enemies are, even when they're hiding behind solid objects. This will also isolate certain areas nearby, making you more aware of where you need to go next to advance the mission.
When in mid-air or even on the ground, you can hold the Z Button to activate your Web-Swing ability. If you feel like adding to the feeling that you're on top of the world, holding the A Button down can make Spider-Man travel at even faster speeds. When you get close to ledges, beams, and other narrow platforms, you can quickly launch Spider-Man forward by tapping the Z Button. There are additional moves that you can perform in the game, and some of these must be unlocked as you get further into the game. There were some points where I felt the controls were a tad gimmicky, like when you had to rip off vent covers. To do this, you aim the Wii Remote at the screen, press A to target two web icons, and then pull back with both controllers. But other than those relatively few instances, know that the controls do hold up for the most part.
Now, as I mentioned before, there are four different Spider-Man counterparts that you'll take control of. There's the oh-so-charming Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir from the past, and Spider-Man 2099 who fights crime in the future. Each character has their own special approach and set of abilities that distinguish them from the others. And when you really get down to it, you'll begin to appreciate the level of variety that stems from these differences in gameplay.
For instance, Spider-Man Noir's gameplay is focused more on stealth and strategy. As a result, you'll be doing a lot of hiding in the shadows, and tailing enemies cautiously to avoid potentially-deadly confrontations. When using Noir, your main attack is the Takedown ability. If you manage to get close enough to an enemy, a notification will pop up on the bottom of the screen indicating that you can perform the move. Activated by shaking the Nunchuk, this leads to an animation where Spider-Man grabs enemies from a distance and immobilizes them by creating an impenetrable cocoon or hurling them against a surface.
In sharp contrast, Spider-Man 2099 is all about quick combat. His gameplay involves chaining multiple attacks together to rack up combos by taking advantage of his superior speed abilities. With the press of the Plus Button, you can activate his Accelerated Vision to slow down everything around him for a short while. You'll find 2099 lots of fun to use, especially if you find yourself drawn to beat 'em ups. The same can be said for Noir, except I think he's more of an acquired taste. In fact, one might argue that Spider-Man Noir is a bit out of place compared to the other three. And because of that overall feeling, some may not enjoy his gameplay as much. However, I personally loved this side of the game. Not only did it help round out the rest of the gameplay really nicely, but the whole technique the developers used to create dark, suspenseful environments was very well thought out.
Whomever you choose, they each have their own exclusive villains that they'll need to wipe out over the course of the game. Because they've absorbed some of the tablet's power, you'll find them to be formidable foes that are enjoyable to face off against. Furthermore, combat skills are an invaluable asset and the game offers you plenty of options in that regard. Fighting off clusters of enemies can be a lot of fun when you know what you're doing, and part of learning the system comes from a bit of trial and error. Some combinations are tricky to pull off, requiring quick movements of the Wii Remote in addition to button presses. But with much practice, you should manage to get the hang of most of them.
What I liked about the villains in each chapter was that they took you through the entire level. It wasn't just a matter of going through enemies and finding your way through buildings to arrive at a boss fight. Many times, the final boss fight was hyped up by mini-boss fights along the way that still managed to provide a good amount of challenge. For instance, in Spider-Man 2099's first mission, your main target is the Hobgoblin. The boss fight at the end is first preceded by a series of chase sequences, exchanges of banter between the two, as well as additional secondary battles. Each chapter feels fairly distinct, with a sense of flow without becoming too predictable in what you had to do. And I was really pleased with the way the developers approached this aspect of the game. However, on the subject of boss fights, I felt that the first-person boxing segments were really stupid, even problematic at times. It completely detracted from the experience and felt more like a last-minute inclusion than anything else.
When you're not engaging in hand-to-hand combat, you'll likely either by completing a mission, exploring an area at large, or searching for collectables. In the way of collectables, each level contains a series of gold and silver Spider Emblems that restore health and grant you Spider Essence. By defeating enemies and performing additional tasks, you'll build up Essence Points. These points can be redeemed for combat upgrades such as Charge Attacks, or even special costumes.
If the completionist inside you is longing for something to reach for early on in the game, you can make it a goal to seek out and collect Hidden Spiders in every level. Shattered Dimensions also has an extensive achievement system tknown as the 'Web of Destiny'. Every achievement in the game is marked on this "chart" in the form of a challenge that you can choose to undertake. When you complete a level, the game will rank you on your score, the amount of Spider Emblems you collected and the amount of time it took to beat a level. You can earn a medal in each of these categories, on each level. And with three difficulty settings to choose from, some will appreciate that there's a significant amount of things to strive for even after you beat the game. But not everyone will feel compelled to actually go after them.
As I touched on already, the presentation values in this game are really good, especially when you consider that this is a port. The cel-shaded visuals are great at capturing a cartoony, comic book feel, but at the same time, the game knew when to vie for something stronger when it needed to. This can be seen in 2099's gameplay and, to some extent, Spider-Man Noir's as well. When discussing the matter of presentation, there are some unavoidable issues present in the game that are worth mentioning. For one, Shattered Dimensions has a terribly-flawed camera system that constantly needs to be re-adjusted with the D-Pad. And then there's the matter of glitches. While they may not occur often enough to get you to abandon the game entirely, you can imagine how falling through the floor and floating above a bottomless pit can get you to think twice about the polished appearance. The music, on the other hand, is incredibly well-suited for what's taking place in a given environment, and there are instances where it can be downright chilling.
What I couldn't quite figure out was the lack of a multiplayer component. To me, it seemed like a logical thing to include: four different characters could've meant a battle for supremacy. But I don't think many will give it much thought.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a really fun action-packed title that Wii owners should feel comfortable purchasing. If you're an avid reader of the Spider-Man comics, you'll feel right at home here. Even if you're not, you'll want to give this a shot if you'd welcome something new and special.
25/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 9/10 - Multiple styles that create a varied experience, great controls, mechanics are pretty solid, some moves are tricky to execute
Presentation 8/10 - Great music, top-notch presentation, praiseworthy cutscenes, strong voice acting and dialogue, camera can cause problems, glitchy
Enjoyment 4/5 - Challenging AI, nice fan service, combat system is enjoyable especially when playing as 2099, Noir may not be appreciated by all
Extra Content 4/5 - Achievement system, plenty of unlockable skills and costumes, no multiplayer, most won't see much point in going after everything
Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)