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Jan 07 2018

Late Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Review

Welcome back Spidey-fans, to another amazing web-slinging adventure of not one, but four of our favourite hero, split across time and space, as The Amazing Spiderman and alternative versions team up to take on the might of Mysterio and co, powered by the power of a mysterious tablet.

I’ve always been a fan of the Spider-Man games, being able to web sling through the streets of New York, whilst acrobatically taking out enemies. Super heroes like Iron Man/Batman do appeal to me being self-made heroes, relying on semi-technically possible technological advances allowing them to wear suits ready for anything, whereas Spider-Man, whilst gene splicing is still in its infancy and not quite fully understood, still gives Spider-Man some factual standing of possibility, and for me, he has the greatest slogan that relates to us all, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Something that many of us need to live our lives by.

I’m not personally a fan of comics, but I watched plenty of the Spider-Man cartoons back in the day, alongside playing the video games, for PS1, gameboy, Xbox etc. It’s going on record today that the original films are the best, with Tobey Maguire playing a fantastic Peter Parker, during a time when Spider-Man was the only avenger single handedly saving the world before the Avengers were even a glint in Marvel’s eyes. I would say it’s thanks to the original Spider-Man movies that kick started Marvel’s explosion of movies in recent years, which is why I find it difficult to watch the multitude of movie remakes Spider-Man has since undergone for no reason over than Tobey Maguire getting on in age, but I found he was and will always be the best at portraying a geeky, pathetic Peter Parker during the day and strong, slick Spider-Man at night. So I now only play the games for my Spider-Man fix.

The games in the past have been absolutely fantastic, always immersive and always made it believable to me that I was actually webslinging. I used to go to bed dreaming of casting webbed ropes to skyscrapers on either side as I swung by, and since I’ve always desired to capture such moments again. So I’m always happy to play a Spider-Man game and Shattered Dimensions was no letdown.

It has to be said that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions looks fantastic on the PS3 console, benefiting from mostly cell-shaded graphics ensuring smooth frame rates even during intense action scenes. I’ve yet to play any other Spider-Man on the PS3 at the moment, but even previous generation of Spider-Man games have always made the most that generation’s consoles had to offer, even the original Spider-Man on PS1 still looks fantastic in my mind’s eye. The art-style per dimension is fantastic, from the dark and light theme of the Noir dimension to the bright, colourful, electric neon look of the 2099 dimension.

Getting onto dimensions, the idea is that a tablet has been split across alternative dimensions and realities, in which the enemies of Spider-Man are finding these shards of the tablet and using them to boost their powers, causing wreaked havoc. Mysterio, the Master of Illusions, having found a shard, realises it’s potential, finally able to cast real figments of terror, desires to gather more shards to increase his power. It’s up to Spider-Man and his alternative versions to team up and take on Mysterio and other enemies that have their hands on this dangerous artifact.

So the dimensions we have is the original universe, containing the original Amazing Spider-Man and is also the dimension that Mysterio and Madame Web reside. The boss enemies you fight in this dimension are Kraven, Sandman and Juggernaut. Next we have the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, in which Spider-Man has the power of the symbiotic black suit, now under control and providing Spider-Man with an additional rage ability to be used during fights. Ultimate Spider-Man’s nemesis are Electro, Deadpool and Carnage. We then have Spider-Man 2099, the Spider-Man of the future who fights on in the name of the original Spider-Man against enemies that are also inspired from the original Spider-Man time. A fantastic neon future which I’d love to have the opportunity of exploring further – this is why video games exist! To give us a glimpse at worlds we can only dream to explore! Enemies faced against in the future are Hobgoblin 2099, Scorpion and Serena Patel as Dr. Octo, alongside being hounded by the corrupted police of the future. Finally we have one of the latest additions to the Spider-Man Universe, the Noir dimension, in which we have a Spider-Man who acquired his powers from a magical egyptian tablet of a Spider God rather than being bitten, now taking on freak shows of enemies including Hammerhead, Vulture & Hobgoblin. To be honest, Madame Web and the alternative Spider-Man are new to me, but the game supplies plenty enough of lore to get me up to speed on who each of our heroes are.

A nice surprise is that Stan Lee narrates most of the story, keeping us avid spidey-fans up to date on the plot and of hidden intentions. His voice is always fantastic to hear for drumming up excitement and it’s great to see that he has some involvement with the game.

The game is split into 3 acts, the first act more easier in difficulty to some degree as you still get used to controlling each Spider-Man whilst even on Normal mode, having said that, the first level with the middle boss fight against Kraven was actually difficult as hell and took numerous tries. Funny story, when I finally managed to beat him, I then turned the game off deciding to pick up where I left off the next day, only to boot up and find that the game had reverted back to a checkpoint before the Kraven boss fight, to which I was pissed having only just managed to accomplish previously, and so I gave up and didn’t bother playing the game for over a year and when I did finally come back to it, I was able beat Kraven in my first go not even remembering half of the controls. Crazy but atleast being thrown into the deep end early on helps with learning what to do, fast!

The game essentially plays very similar to Arkham Asylum, with a combat system reliant on combo attacks, counterattacks, evading and using skills whilst surrounding in a shit show of enemies with varying abilities and strengths of their own that you have to tactically fight against. Combat is fluid, using Spider Senses to know when to dodge and counter. The use of terrain during combat is fantastic, web slinging around the arena to stealthily creep up behind unsuspecting enemies to achieve strong damaging attacks and takedowns. Exploration is pretty linear, with hidden side rooms for collectables whilst taking in some breath-taking sights. Through the game, you acquire skill points that can be used to unlock and upgrade additional skills for Spidey just as in Arkham Asylum. Now I believe there is a sequel to this game, but it didn’t garner the positive reviews as this is, which probably nipped the series in the bud for those hoping for a myriad of games similar to those of the Arkham series which is a shame as there was plenty of potential. But regardless, for those fans of Arkham, this game will most definitely be right up your alley (Maybe not the best choice of words in regards to Batman).

To be honest I’m surprised that Shattered Dimensions isn’t more raved about in today’s climate, considering plenty of games have reverted back to cel-shading in a time of graphic superiority, yet games like Fortnite still rely on cel-shading and seeing how everyone raved for the new Spider-Man game to be released on PS4, I just don’t understand why people aren’t reverting back to this in the mean time for a fantastic gaming experience that doesn’t involve 50 hours of gathering collectables as most games have become these days.

Having said that, there are some collectables in the form of hidden spiders or spider credits to be picked up in each level. Acquiring them all in a level completes challenges and contribute to unlocking Spider-Man’s abilities. During levels, there is a set list of challenges to complete, whether this is trying to get a boss to destroy a certain amount of environmental objects or complete an area within a certain time limit. Completing these challenges will reward credits and unlock the next set of obtainable upgrades depending on how many challenges you have previously completed. Challenges are the hardest to complete, I think I did atleast 80% of. It’s just remembering when and where to complete them whilst in the middle of some intense action. There are a few that will take a few attempts to complete, unless you were to follow an online guide on how to complete, but that does take some of the fun out of playing a game.

 

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Completing levels will be rated bronze, silver or gold depending on how efficiently you completed the level taking into consideration time to complete, combos obtained whilst dispatching enemies and collection of spider credits. You will then receive credits based on your score. I wasn’t too fussed for the ratings, but there’s a challenge there for anyone that wants to go after it and a good way to earn additional credits if you replay the levels enough time to unlock miscellaneous items. Otherwise, playing through the game will unlock character models and info on enemies previously faced.

Having obtained enough credits, you can then spend these on upgrades. There are two forms of upgrades, combat and character. These upgrades can either apply to a number of Spider-Man protagonists or just individual ones, such as special moves or additional skins. The skins I believe can come with a passive ability applied, so they can help in situations as well as break the tension with some of the more funny ones.

Swapping between the four Spider-Man keeps the action fresh, each having their own fighting style essentially as well as having alternative ways to traverse the different styles of levels. Having said that, I would have been happy to play entire games in each Spider-Man dimensions alone. Mostly due to the levels only allowed to be so big due to constraints, there isn’t any webslinging and travelling through New York as previously allowed in past games which was missed, but the layouts of the levels that are included make it so it’s not entirely missed and you can still do some fun stunts using web slinging in small areas.

Spider-Man humour is as ever on point, fantastic one-liners that could give Deadpool a run for his money, especially the highly boring Deadpool movie. (I’ll say it if no one else wont! and to be honest the video game installment is more fitting and better than the movie was, Nolan North for the win. I’m surprised he didn’t get the gig considering Deadpool for most of the film was CGI and atleast genuine. I’m sure Renold’s Twitter account is managed by a bunch of Marvel’s writers directly.) The best one liner that still stands out in my mind is when he refers to a real life show, saying ‘That’s so Kraven’, whilst in the middle of an intense battle, I nearly laughed and died due to loss of attention during the match. Deadpool’s appearance in the game was fantastic, his level being fantastic to explore as well as Deadpool injecting a touch of mayhem for his cable TV show. A great touch I felt was Deadpool still breaking the 4th wall, as whilst I had paused the game to write some notes up, Deadpool’s commenting in the background that I pause too much.

The boss fights in the game really do deserve a humongous mention, seeing as the level was designed around them in the first place, and the fights do require time, working out a strategy and plenty of patience for the ones that are hard as hell. One in particularly being Vulture in the Noir dimension. The fight could 10 minutes, in which you would get him down to low health, he would then jump onto you, trying to eat your face. You’re supposed to use the joysticks simultaneously to punch him in the face and to avoid him snapping his face of, but for whatever reason, I kept failing at dodging his attacks, having to then do the entire fight again. It honestly took 6-7 attempts and I’m surprised my controller remains intact. The Electro fight in the Ultimate dimension was pretty funny, Spider-Man and Electro trading blows and one liners.

Game extremely well designed. Didn’t see or experience a single bug but for the smallest of texture glitch for a wall panel in one level. Games today you’re lucky if you don’t fall through the floor every 5 minutes. No public beta phase of games back when this was made and sold as a pre-build edition, waiting for sales to flat-out before finally releasing the full edition. Really do enjoy the cel-shaded comics and the realism of the future. Ultimate Spider-Man’s original skin has a great effect of the venom suit having an atmospheric aura swirling around Spider-Man as it showcases its volatility and wildness. For all dimensions, particle effects and auras activated from using combat moves look great, filling the screen with colour and essentially the authenticating details of a well polished game.

One experience to note was how I nearly got stuck at one point in the game, trapped in a room full of mercenaries whilst being on low health, even after loading a checkpoint, so it took some time to carefully pan having to take out each enemy one by one, all whilst in the middle of a one-sided gun fight, until I could finally advance to the next zone. You may be asking why I didn’t just restart the entire level and replay the previous 20 minutes, but there was no guarantee that I would get back to this spot with the full health desired. A challenge that was overcame that does go towards making a better player in the long run.

Also honourable mention to the Noir dimension, traversing those levels where great, having to avoid light, hiding in the shadows to sneak up on enemies. For one level that was set at the carnival that looked fantastically atmospheric, at times fireworks would go up into the sky, lighting up the entire ground beneath, potentially revealing your position to watchmen, so a great additional challenge in trying to sneak around at a fast pace, otherwise requiring you to dive into cover.

You will really want to give this game your full attention so that you don’t miss any of the dialogue, otherwise you’ll miss story and pun, which did happen to myself a few times due to having noisy twitch streams playing in the background on my second screen. I’m wondering if it’s becoming a bit of a bad habit putting streams on automatically whilst playing games, as my attention becomes spread out, and so I struggle to focus on either source, though it does normally help in most modern games that are nothing but 50 hours of grinding. Shattered Dimensions on the otherhand is anything but a grind, so unless you’re playing some light music, I would advise turning that stream or catch-up service in the background off.

The end boss fight against Mysterio wasn’t the hardest on normal difficulty, due to it essentially being a combination of previous experienced scenarios that I had already mastered, so it wasn’t really much nothing but a replay of challenges. The game is of a very good length, it says it took me 10 hours to complete, but doesn’t take into account replays of each time you die. I’d say it’d be a couple of hours more than what’s rated. The voice acting throughout the game was fantastic, as well as the sound and music design, getting two thumbs up.

Fantastic game overall, definitely recommended for all. The sequel wasn’t rated as high by reviewers at the time, but I’ll probably give it a go some time in the future alongside the other PS3 Spider-Man games that are out there. The only issue is having to acquire these games on disc as there are no downloads available, which is a shame. Apparently something due to licensing agreements between Marvel/Disney and Activision, so all those physical collectors out there are probably chuffing about the value of their discs going up in price as well as the idea that downloads are unsustainable as a long-term source for games. As mentioned previously, definitely a shame it didn’t take off like the Arkham series did, as I’m sure there’s plenty of potential for this series, but Marvel aren’t new to releasing Spider-Man remakes as with the new Spider-Man game coming out this year on PS4.

*I hope you appreciate the screenshots I was finally able to pull from my PS3, having hooked it up to an Elgato that had never been used up to this point. Sound investment that was. But I think the screenshots have come out nice, and as of just recently, I’ve now done two streams which not a single soul watched at the time, but all’s fine as it’s been good practise for the future.

 

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