Published Oct 26, 2010It's easy to forget that while Batman: Arkham Asylum set a new standard for what a comic book videogame could be last year, Spider-Man 2 had already raised the stakes back in 2004 by transforming NYC into Spidey's sandbox.
This latest Peter Parker adaptation takes a more linear approach to its storytelling, sort of. While the action game play is somewhat regressive in its strict linearity, Shattered Dimensions offers up fantastic fan service. Not only does Stan Lee narrate this tale in his inimitable fashion, but gamers can play as four different Spider-Men: the traditional red and blue, "amazing" wall-crawler and the black & white symbiote suited Ultimate Spidey, as well as pulling from Marvel's alternate reality comic lines to include the retro-'30s-themed Spider-Man noir and the futuristic Spider-Man 2099. Each Spidey fights slightly differently, though only the Noir's Arkham-inspired stealth tactics offer a major departure from the game's beat-'em-up basics.
The mainstream Spidey is voiced to geeky perfection by Neil Patrick Harris, who voiced the character in the 2003 animated series, but the others all boast voice actors from various other cartoons. Oh, and there's even a great Peter Porker: The Amazing Spider-Ham gag.
The story revolves around a broken Deus Ex Tablet, which, as the title implies, shatters the four dimensions during a fight with second-tier villain Mysterio, and so some mysterious blind lady named Madame Web (I'm an old-school Spidey geek and she's only vaguely familiar) gathers up the arachnid troops to collect the various tablet pieces, which have been stolen by Spider-Man's rogues gallery, including Electro, Scorpion, Hobgoblin, Hammerhead, Vulture, Deadpool, Kraven the Hunter and, well, basically all of them.
The graphics have a hand drawn look that emulates the four-colour comics without look absurdly cell-shaded, like that Spider-Man 3 game. The black & white noir world and the hyper-modern 2099 setting are even more eye-popping than the two mainstream dimensions.
It's not the best Spidey game, much less the best comic one – there are camera issues aplenty, the bad guys spout the same crap one-liners ad naseum and the combat and rescue missions get repetitive, even with four different highly detailed worlds to fight in. But if Shattered Dimensions isn't quite amazing, it's still pretty spectacular. (Activision/ Beenox)