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November 7, 2010
Spiderman Shattered Dimensions - PS3 Review
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Spiderman Shattered Dimensions on PS3.
Spiderman is back, but he's doing things a bit differently this time around. First off there are four Spidermen at your disposal in Shattered Dimensions, and secondly the open-world that has become synonymous with recent Spiderman outings is gone, replaced by a far more linear environment. Have these changes breathed fresh air into an increasingly stale franchise? Read on...

The story begins when Spiderman finds Mysterio attempting to steal a powerful artefact from a museum. A struggle ensues and the artefact is shattered into a number of pieces. Unfortunately for Spiderman the shattering of the artefact has put his own dimension, as well as three others into peril. Luckily each of the threatened dimensions has their own Spiderman in them, and with the help and guidance of Madame Webb the four Spidermen will track down all the fragments and restore stability to their world. It's a rather basic storyline but it provides a great setting for the game, one where you get to experience four separate and distinct Spiderman worlds.

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Character designs are impressive.
The game is broken into three acts, bookended by a tutorial and the final battle. Each different version of Spiderman gets their own level in each act. The four Spidermen you control are the Amazing Spiderman, Ultimate Spiderman, 2099 Spiderman and Spiderman Noir. Amazing Spiderman is the version everyone will be most familiar with; he's standard issue with no special skills outside of his many spider powers. Ultimate Spiderman wears the black suit and is more powerful than his Amazing counterpart. Ultimate also has access to Rage mode which makes him even more powerful and allows him to dispatch large numbers of enemies with relative ease. 2099 Spiderman is from a future where a corrupt corporation controls the police force. Outside of the normal spider-skills he can also use accelerated vision which slows down time, allowing him to negotiate free-fall sections with aplomb and handle the missiles and bombs being hurled at him more easily. The final Spiderman at your disposal is the most unique of the four. Noir Spiderman is from the 1930s and doesn't have the inherent strength of all the other Spidermen, instead relying on the shadows to keep him hidden while he stealthily dispatches any enemy in his path.

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Dark and moody in Shattered Dimensions.
Each of the levels based around one villain or another, including the likes of Juggernaut, Sandman, Deadpool and Doctor Octopus. Spidey usually comes across these villains at the start of the level, engages in some banter and maybe a brief fight, before spending the remainder of the level chasing after them. In the meantime you'll have to beat down each villain's henchmen on your way to the final boss battle. Combat handles much the same way for the Amazing, Ultimate and 2099 Spidermen. You start off with a light attack, a heavy attack, a jump attack and the ability to grab enemies. Whenever you kill an enemy or locate a spider-emblem you gain spider essence which is used to upgrade your attacks, improve your core stats such as health, and buy alternate suits for each of the Spidermen. There are also fifteen challenges within each level, requiring things such as defeating X enemies, using a specific attack X number of times, or finding X number of spider-emblems, the provide bonus spider essence when completed. There is no shortage of improved attacks to spend your money on, and before long you'll have an extensive repertoire of combination attacks to unleash. The attacks will allow you to do damage in any of the ways you think Spiderman should – he can punch, kick and jump naturally, but he can also web-pull himself between enemies, pluck them out of the air and slam them into the ground with his web, or pull off a variety of airborne attacks that will dispatch his opponent before he hits the ground.

Spiderman Noir is the notable exception when it comes to combat. As mentioned earlier Spidey Noir is quite weak compared to the other Spidey's, and his tommy gun toting opponents are far too strong for him. As such Spidey Noir has to cling to the shadows and use stealth to get rid of his enemies. There is no doubt that these levels have taken a lot of inspiration from Batman: Arkham Asylum – you take out enemies with single-button takedowns, and if an enemy spots you you'll need to hide in the shadows or climb to higher ground to escape their attention. All of the Noir levels are black and white when you're hidden in the shadows, but when you're out in the open colour comes back into the world. The colours are still muted, especially when compared to the other three-quarters of the game, but they do provide a quick indicator of whether you're currently hidden or not.

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Battle on the rooftop.
Shattered Dimensions exceeded my expectations in many ways, but it still has a few issues worth noting. Many of the levels are open and expansive, and the camera copes with these well. However plenty of other levels take place indoors, or in cramped spaces and in these sections the camera often can't provide a decent view. I found it was at its worst in the Noir worlds when crawling along buildings looking for takedowns. There were times where no matter which direction I pushed I couldn't go the way I wanted, and I'd invariably end up heading upwards, with the camera changing between multiple unsuitable angles. It's frustrating for sure, though in later levels it seemed less of an issue. Also, despite the rather wide range of moves available to the Spidermen, combat does become repetitive after a while. This is made worse by the fact that some levels just don't know when to quit, often making you do the same thing over and over before it ends. The Sandman level is the perfect example of this. First you have to web-zip over hurtling debris to a platform, on the platform you have to break open some pipes to wet your enemies before you can defeat them. There are usually two or more of those sections before you get to your objective, but you have to do the same thing three times before you reach the boss. It begins feeling repetitive on your way to the first objective, so repeating it twice more is needless and frustrating.

One are where Shattered Dimensions excels is the visuals. I'm not sure what the technical term for it is – it looked like cel-shading in parts – but whatever it is it looks great. There is plenty of colour in the Amazing and Ultimate Spidermen worlds, while the futuristic world 2099 Spiderman inhabits is interesting to look at. The Noir world is a little less exciting due to the dull colours on offer, but on the whole the game looks great. All of the Spidermen move with great agility, flitting from one enemy to the next with no trouble. Even when there are forty or more enemies on-screen there is no sign of slowdown or other graphical slip-ups. There is a great diversity in the levels too, from the jungle of Kraven's hideout, to the desert town Sandman inhabits and the futuristic world of Spiderman 2099 – they all look a treat and will keep you intrigued by what you'll come across next.

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That's not "normal" Spider-man!
Both the music and the speech fare just as well. There's a rather large cast for the game, with each Spiderman being voiced by a different actor. Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Houser that is), Nolan North (of Uncharted fame) and Stan Lee himself feature prominently, but even the lesser-known actors do a great job with their lines. It has to be said that the Spidermen of Shattered Dimensions are a funnier and more interesting bunch than any of the movies or recent games made him out to be. Puns abound and there is no situation that the Spidermen don't have a one-liner for. Even the goons get a few funny conversations and lines throughout the game. Combined with the excellent visuals, these wise-cracks give the game a much more comic-book feel, which can only be a good thing. The only gripe I have with the sound is that during some moments certain comments are thrown about far too often. During boss-fights Madame Webb will tell you the same thing 20-odd times, whilst just about every time you trigger accelerated vision Spiderman will tell you what it is and how it works… Happily these moments are rare enough to not be too nettlesome, and are the exception rather than the rule.

Overall Shattered Dimensions exceeded my expectations, and is definitely the best Spiderman game to hit the PS3. Vibrant graphics, snappy dialogue, a variety of worlds to play through and plenty of moves/upgrades/extras to unlock will keep you going all the way to the end of the ten hour campaign. There are times when the camera frustrates, and when levels and combat get repetitive, but for the most part this is an enjoyable romp, and one well worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSVery impressive. Three of the four worlds look quite different and all of them look great. It has a comic-book look which works well. A few camera issues though.
SOUNDBoth the music and the voice-acting is high quality stuff. The four Spidermen never meet a situation they don't have a one-liner for.
GAMEPLAYPlays well, but there's repetition in both combat and some levels. Rage mode and accelerated vision don't add a whole lot.
VALUEIt will take ten hours to complete, but with 180 challenges to accomplish and lots to unlock you'll likely be drawn back again.
OVERALLSpiderman: Shattered Dimensions is the best Spiderman offering on the PS3 no doubt. Great visuals and snappy one-liners highlight a game that is well worth checking out if Spiderman or action games are your thing.

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