As soon as it dropped in 2018, Marvel’s Spider-Man became an instant classic. Rightly so; it was probably the most realistic recreation of the beloved superhero yet seen, but that’s not to say it was his definitive video game. Another notable outing, released for the Xbox 360 back in 2010, was Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
Spidey has had an uneven history with video games, with quality varying greatly from game to game – for every Spider-Man 2 there’s a Spider-Man 3. In doing new things not put into motion in a Spider-Man game before, Shattered Dimensions is firmly on the better end of that spectrum.
Playing the game will feel familiar to anyone who has played any other Spider-Man: you have the ability to crawl along walls and zip across locations, as well as the usual combat mechanics. Web slinging, however, is less of a staple, as gameplay here is concerned more with insular tasks, making for a greater emphasis on being a part of the action.
In all fairness, there isn’t much about the gameplay that is unique or revolutionary, but that’s not what makes Shattered Dimensions special. It’s the presentation, design and variations on a theme that elevates it above other games of its type.
Shattered Dimensions begins with Spidey interrupting Mysterio’s theft of a stone tablet that can grant magic powers. It ends up broken, though, and the pieces are scattered into different dimensions and into the hands of twelve of Spider-Man’s biggest foes. So Spider-Man and his 2099, Ultimate and Noir universe counterparts – all voiced by a prior Spider-Man actor – have to retrieve them.
The Amazing dimension, where Spider-Man is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, is the main thread of the story. This central version of the character at first serves as a gameplay introduction, before giving way to a hectic, exciting encounter with Sandman and later a final faceoff with the Juggernaut.
Ultimate Spider-Man is almost the same save for his symbiote suit, which can perform greater melee moves after a high enough hit combo has been reached. The highlight of this universe is the second enemy, Deadpool. Voiced by Nolan North, this game’s depiction of the merc with the mouth is one of the most faithful, as well as the funniest – (“Available for black ops missions, assassinations and birthday parties!”) – as can only be expected from Deadpool.
As for 2099, as well as being full of wide-open, vibrant environments in the style of Blade Runner, Spider-Man is considered an outlaw. In addition to tracking down the villain in each level, he also has to evade the futuristic police force, the Public Eye Patrol.
In this dimension, Spidey has the limited ability to slow down time, which can come in handy as there are many sections with large numbers of enemies to defeat at once. 2099 also makes Hobgoblin a credible adversary, before doing something predictable with Scorpion and finishes with a face-off against an unique interpretation of one of Spider-Man’s best-known villains.
Noir is the most intriguing of the four dimensions. As opposed to the other three, these levels are mainly stealth-based, with Spider-Man having to avoid being spotted by goons to make for smoother level progression. This involves using takedowns – often plucking enemies off the ground and covering them in webs – in order to slip past.
As well as the new gameplay style, the Noir universe stands out from the rest with a unique, shadowy visual style. While staying in the shadows is an important aspect of these sections, they are set mainly in the dark with only some light creeping in, a style reminiscent of Sin City.
Along with the enemies – Hammerhead, Vulture and the Green Goblin – re-imagined as deformed gangsters, this is a perfect example of what Shattered Dimensions does best: perfectly realising, with the aid of striking visuals, a world only seen before in comics.
Greater depth and character variation in the game is there with the inclusion of an upgrade system and level challenges. Defeating enemies earns Spider-Man upgrade points, but it’s not limited to just that. Each of the twelve levels has a number of challenges which, when completed, earns bonuses that can go toward upgrades. Points can unlock new abilities and combos and, when enough have been collected, bonuses like concept art and alternative costumes.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions may not be the most innovative game, but plays as solidly as the best Spider-Man games, and is elevated by its stylings and how well it brings parts of the multiverse never realized before to life.
Some may complain of it being on rails, but that simplicity makes for a more focused and streamlined experience, allowing players to fully immerse themselves with the feeling of being four different versions of their favourite hero. If this game passed you by ten years ago, it is worth seeking out now, with Amazon holding a few copies in stock.