Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (Wii) Review
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Spider-Man franchise, either the comics or video games. I somewhat enjoyed the movies though I also acknowledge that they’ve been losing their lustre, much like the series was in terms of videogames. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was going to be the first game to turn things around, and probably for the better to. Though ultimately, I still am not convinced that the web slinger will ever star in an amazing game again. That being said, Shattered Dimensions is not without its shine. It’s still a pretty competent title.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions takes place across four different dimensions, featuring four versions of Spider-Man. Following the shattering of an ancient tablet, several alternate realities are all of a sudden brought closer together, alerting Madame Web, Spider-Man’s pseudo-mentor. Madame Web has the ability to talk to all the incarnations of Spider-Man across the different dimensions. She promptly informs them that the shattering of the tablet has enhanced the powers of their respective enemies, and that they must put the tablet back together in order to stop it.
The nature of the plot means that players can jump between dimensions throughout the game’s rather linear adventure, as well as endow enemies (who have well-established powers) with ones that they wouldn’t usually have in the main canon. In this regard, the plot works well. Moving away from an open-world model, the game’s developers have had a sizeable chance to create a more focused storyline, and in this way, the plot is again successful – at least if you suspend disbelief.
Shattered Dimensions utilises a comic book-style cel-shaded appearance, obviously to look similar to the game’s source material. Models are pretty realistically detailed, although some roughness on the edges of both characters and environments creates a rather strange looking world. And speaking of worlds, there are four dimensions to move through and each one has a varying artistic style. This is a nice idea, and a concept that certainly works well. Thankfully, the art directors on this project wanted to clearly define and separate the dimensions, and they have achieved this. Animations are somewhat clunky for non-playable characters, however. Of the four available dimensions, most of them boast a very nice and unique art style; however, the futuristic dimension, to me, didn’t feel like it had as much effort put into its design when compared to the others, which is a bit distracting.
The game also makes use of pre-rendered cutscenes, although these sequences look very off in some areas, and the jump from cutscenes to actual gameplay (which are extremely different in appearance) is very jarring. Overall, however, the game has a very well put together presentation style that I can’t argue with outside of these elements.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is controlled primarily with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, utilising motion controls only when they are absolutely needed. Attacks, jumps and web slinging are very easy to pull off, and are quite possibly their smoothest yet. A feature of the battle system allows you to lock on to enemies, and this also works very well. Unfortunately, it does take a bit of the challenge away from the game, and most will not have trouble getting through the adventure. For the most part, the game is an action title, but during the “Noir” universe, Spider-Man moves stealthily and must take his enemies out silently. This element is a blatant attempt to incorporate stealth sections which are, to be frank, very mediocre in the big scheme of things.
The game does implement motion controls for you to choose areas and objects for Spider-Man to latch onto and manipulate to progress, and these aren’t too gimmicky to interrupt the gameplay. What is, perhaps, the most poorly implemented mechanism in battle is the ability to grab things and throw them at enemies. Some of these commands are initiated by shaking the Nunchuk, and most of these actions are very, very hard to initiate properly, usually resulting in frustration.
The game does offer light RPG elements that you would expect from any action title these days. Players can upgrade Spider-Man’s attacks, his unique abilities, as well as his health and strength. The game is very playable without them, however, so players who want a bit of a challenge can get through quite easily – though don’t expect much of a challenge even without power-ups. Again, the game is incredibly easy to breeze through. There are segments peppered throughout the main game that mix up the gameplay, and when these elements are incorporated, they are good. One example that stands out, despite being at the beginning of the game, is when Spider-Man is being viewed through a sniper scope and must dodge bullets from afar, while also using the bullets to create a passage through a level. These sequences usually break up the gameplay and keep things interesting.
As there are four Spider-Men playable in this instalment, each one has varying abilities which further mix things up. Standard Spider-Man uses a combination of melee attacks and web to wreak havoc; “Noir” Spider-Man uses silent takedowns to get through the streets quietly; Spider-Man 2099 uses futuristic technologies and weaponry to cause destruction and slow time; and Ultimate Spider-Man uses powers from the Symbiote parasite to create chaos too. These abilities are all great to use and vary things quite a bit, but unfortunately don’t do a lot to make the gameplay any harder than it already isn’t, particularly when coupled with the “Spider Sense” ability that allows dodging and evasion of dangerous enemies all the time.
The game is narrated by Stan Lee, who reads the game’s script very similarly to what you’d expect from an over-enthusiastic comic book fan. Voice work for the different Spider-Man characters is very well done, with stars like Neil Patrick Harris voicing them. What is perhaps most annoying is that every single battle will have Spider-Man shouting awful, unfunny lines that repeat themselves over and over again. This is particularly irritating when the lines are repeated, literally, hundreds of times throughout each level. However the unique music composed for each level is superbly put together, and this is probably one of the best sounding Spider-Man games I’ve heard in a while.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is, at best, around an 8-10 hour game which is quite admirable for an action-adventure game of this calibre on the Wii. That being said, there are “challenges” available which award players with extra experience points for their characters when they complete certain objectives throughout the game. Similarly, those who are really into completion can unlock several different costumes for Spider-Man, including a rather awesome (and new to me) Manga outfit. The game’s story does a good job at creating unique set pieces for players to plod through, and those who are fans of the series will appreciate the rather jokey final event in the game once completed.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is probably the best Spider-Man game that I’ve played on the Nintendo Wii, and one of the better ones available from the whole franchise. It brings together some nice elements of presentation and gameplay to deliver a fun experience. However, its lack of difficulty really lets it down for the older players. And without any redeeming features outside of this, it’s a bit of a disappointment in that regard. Still, those who love the series will enjoy all the recognisable characters that the game throws at you, including some from outside of the usual Spider-Man universe too. A decent action-adventure title.
Inclusion of what is essentially four different art directions is nice, however some of the details are lost on the Wii version. Similarly, the futuristic dimension looks way too generic for my liking.
While the gameplay is pretty tight, the combat is rather repetitive and this problem is exacerbated by the constant button-mashing that players will have to endure to get through the whole thing. Upgrades are a nice touch.
A very decent soundtrack, coupled with a familiar cast of voice actors. However, battle cries and one-liners are too cheesy and constant repetition of them really brings the game down.
The game features a lot of challenges to complete and skills to unlock. Couple this with unlockable costumes and a relatively lengthy campaign, and youve got yourself a rather nice package. The lack of a challenge may bring this down though.
I enjoyed a more focused adventure this time around, however the shallow combat system and dodgy stealth sections really let me down in parts.