Monday, July 17, 2017

Review #430: Spider-man - Shattered Dimensions(Playstation 3)

 And now there're four of them.
 Beenox is our new developer for the next batch of Spider-man games, and their first effort, Shattered Dimensions, is very different from what we have seen before in the realm of 3-D. This is not a free-roaming, sandbox-style game, but rather a linear beat'em up game in which you get to play as four different Spider-men: Spider-man 2099, Amazing Spider-man, Spider-man Noir and Ultimate Spider-man.

  There's this Tablet-thingie of great power that shatters after Mysterio and Amazing Spider-man get in a fight. The pieces of this Tablet travel across four different universes and Madame Web recruits the help of the Spider-man of each to collect the pieces. The world hangs in peril, as each of the 13 stages features a boss that has come to possess a fragment of the tablet, granting them awesome powers. While the story is alright as an excuse to bash badguys, they really went all in on the presentation. Each Spider-man and his universe have an entirely different aesthetic, each Spider-man is voiced by someone who voiced the character in the past and they even designed new versions of villains, like Hobgoblin 2099 or Noir Hamerhead, just for this game. The game is pretty lengthy too, with each stage lasting between 30 to 50 minutes and it also features the return of alternate costumes! Each Spider-man gets 3 alternate outfits, unlockable in-game and not by paying for DLC, for a total of 12 different costumes. Pretty neat!
 Core gameplay mechanics are the same for every character, a weak and strong attacks that can be linked together, web to make Spider-man dash-in and attack an enemy, jumping, dodging, swinging and crawling on walls. Your goal on every stage is to make it to the end, by defeating hundreds of enemies, but each stage also has a lot of 'challenges' to fulfill. Some you'll clear automatically as you go through the stage, while you'll need to go out of your way to clear others. And you should try to complete as many as you can, since you can't buy certain upgrades until you've amassed a certain amount of cleared challenges. I really liked this system, as it encouraged me to clear challenges and rewarded me for my trouble. Said upgrades range from new moves, a few which are character exclusive(For instance, every characters' charge attack is unique, Noir Spider-man can't disarm enemies, etc) to health bar extensions or costumes.

 That's as far as core elements go, because the different Spider-men not only have different aesthetics, but also different mechanics. Spider-man Noir is based around stealth, and even gets take-downs to compliment his stages. Spider-man 2099 featured, surprisingly, the most puzzles, but also has the ability to slow down his surroundings in order to avoid incoming attacks or attack enemies before they know what hit them. Ultimate Spider-man's levels were a bit more action-based, and he has Rage, which temporarily strengthens him, giving him stronger, wider attacks and more defense. Amazing Spider-man was, unlike his title, the most mundane, with nothing noteworthy to talk about!
 The combat is very nice, crunchy and satisfying. They even shoe-horned in some first person fist-fights with a few bosses that feel very out-of-place... but oh so fun to engage it, since the audiovisual feedback makes it feel so good to repeatedly punch the boss using both analog sticks to perform different types of punches and hooks with each arm. However, it doesn't matter how many new moves you unlock, the combat system is rather shallow, with not a lot of window for the player to create combos, which means that the game gets old a little bit before it ends.

 There were a few control issues and design choices too. Arbitrarily, Spider-man won't be allowed to swing on his web, which is hilarious because, when allowed to, he will stick his webs on thin air. This also extends to clinging on walls, since the Web-heads can't stick to every wall, even if they look the same. Trying to climb out of a perch, hook or cable can sometimes prove troublesome as well since Spider-man has a hard time jumping down stuff, because he sorta gets magnetized onto the ground he is standing on. Luckily, this will mostly be an issue only in Spider-man Noir's levels, when trying to silently take down some baddies.
 Seeing how Beenox was new to the franchise, had they tried to match what Treyarch did would've probably ended in a disaster, since Web of Shadows was the product of years polishing the formula, so going for this new approach was, probably, the best idea. And it worked, Shattered Dimensions is a very interesting game that does many things right even if it got a few wrong.
 7.0 out of 10

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