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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Preview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 10:57am 06/04/10 | Comments
AusGamers was recently invited out to Activision HQ in Santa Monica, California for an early look at Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Read on for our initial thoughts...

There's no denying the last web of Spidey games have been less sticky than we'd like (bad pun I know, but it's true). On paper, a free-form sandbox Spider-Man game sounds like a no-brainer, after all he lives and works out of New York City, with its massive skyscrapers and penchant for crime; it seems like the perfect outing. But short development times, a lack of definitive direction and clearer lack of overall commitment on behalf of whomever is handling the franchise at any given time has left ol' web-head hanging, for lack of a better description (and to maintain the classic, yet bad comic-book style puns).

So let's take Parker out of a parkour-happy New York open-world setting and give him more direction, came the collective thought from some nice folks working in an office somewhere in the stand-alone universe that is Activision HQ. And that's exactly what's happened, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions gives Spidey something to do, a place to specifically go, and obvious villains to fight. What this also means, is the new development team behind the game, Beenox, who're based in the videogame dev studio friendly place that is Quebec, Canada, have been afforded some creative muscle to flex with much more directed settings and tones. In fact, the new Spidey goes beyond simply having themed levels to build off; crafting a story that manages to tie in four distinct Spider-Man universes.



Now, what this means is, you're going to have portions of the game based exclusively around ideas, stories and characters that have taken place in the Amazing Spider-Man universe. The same can be said of the recently released Spider-Man Noire universe (which looks incredibly cool, by the way) and two other universes yet to be revealed for a total of? If you said four, give yourself a little red Spider-Man sticker.

So we have four Spider-Man universes that will dovetail with each other thanks to a special stone. This stone is the catalyst for events throughout the game, and will be the reason you can play through four unique Spider-Man universes. What's great about this is each universe carries with it a spcific look and feel based on the comic-book lore, as readily demonstrated by the recently released reveal video (showing off the aforementioned Amazing and Noire universes), and obviously each will come with its own unique villains, abilities, characters etc.

The game will come in three acts, with four chapters per act, each of which is obviously based in one of the four universes on offer. Out at Activision's head office in Santa Monica, California, we were lucky enough to have a pretty decent look at one specific portion from each of the announced universes, beginning with a jungle stage set within the Amazing universe that featured Kraven The Hunter. The art style here was very comic-book-inspired, with dark lines outlining a cel-shaded and pencilled colour look. Spider-Man aficionados will be happy to hear he's spinning the 'spaghetti web' all the way through the game, and as you would also expect, he's tangled up in his own limbs pretty much the entire time being the contortionist he is.



The combat system we're looking at is also much improved. It's as quick as you'd expect, and it's easy to see some influence from Batman: Arkham Asylum dripping through (though at this stage in development it's much lighter in depth), and we're being told boss-battles will be challenging, fun and very engaging - all geared specifically from the villain's personality you're facing. They've also done away with XP, replacing instead with a challenge-based upgrade tree, though details on this were somewhat scarce. One other new feature they showed off saw some up close and personal combat, with sections that will put you in the Spider-Man first-person to smack the bad-guys about - the idea here apparently, was to give the game more character by allowing you to get in the face of all Spidey's offbeat rivals and villains.

After a somewhat brief look at a portion of the Amazing universe, things switch over to the Noire universe, which is just plain uber-cool. It's one thing this exists in the comics, but seeing it here in pre-alpha condition, and looking this good, is quite another. For the uninitiated, the Noire universe sets things back to 1930s New York. Spidey is not wearing spandex, but rather a collection of leather and cloth; in the books he's also donning a rather large trench-coat but we're being told it just didn't work from a gameplay and visual perspective, so it was removed for the game. Either way, he still looks pretty amazing here. Beyond Spidey, the overall presentation of the Noire universe could be summed up as akin to The Darkness and The Saboteur (sans colour), and carries with it less focus on action and more on stealth. Spider-Man still has his regular powers, but here he takes enemies out one by one, leaving them plastered to the wall, floor or strung from a roof or post. Again, touches of Batman creep into my head, but we are talking about two super heroes who actually do have a lot in common, so it's a bit unfair to be playing 'copycat jury' here.



Other strong news surrounding the game is that it's being written by the current Amazing Spider-Man story-teller, Dan Slott, and that each Spider-Man in each universe will be voiced by a different voice-actor, however, each voice-actor will have, at one time or another, voiced Spider-Man before in cartoon form.

The game is currently slated for a September release on your typical run of Activision platforms (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP and DS), with no word yet on a PC version or just how different the game will be for each platform. It's early days yet, and we were definitely looking at a work in progress, but stripping the game of its sandbox foundation is probably the smartest move Activision and Beenox could have made. It feels like Spider-Man now has direction and focus, and it's looking very stylised, even in this early build. We'll obviously keep an eye on the game, so check back for updates as they become available.



Latest Comments
ravn0s
Posted 11:16pm 06/4/10
would be awesome if one of the dimensions is marvel zombies.
Lainehart
Posted 11:54am 07/4/10
Excited to see how this one pans out, here's hoping all four universes are as good as each other. I dislike slogging through poor sections in games just to get back to the good stuff =]
Decepticon
Posted 03:24am 08/4/10
I'm betting manga spidey will be one of the dimensions....spiderman 2099 would be cool but they will prolly do the ultimate universe or movie spidey
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