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10 Reviews

Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions

The Almost Fantastic Four...

Batman has shown that it can be done. The owner of the Guinness Record for Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Videogame was a laughing stock in gaming circles for a whole generation before Arkham Asylum came along - and Spider-Man's current Xbox legacy, although pitiful, isn't anything like as tarnished.

Spidey's also suffered from the same problems as Superman, in that he's just too damn powerful for a satisfying gaming experience.

He may be a sarky teenager in lycra rather than an all-but indestructible alien, but in gaming terms, if you can zip across town in five minutes, tie up any enemy or hide on the ceiling until everyone's gone home, where's the challenge? It's little wonder that he's been reduced to swinging around massive, empty cities.

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But, despite a poor track record, Beenox have finally found a way to present a satisfying Spider-Man game by ditching the pitiful attempts at depth offered by previous Xbox titles, and offering a game with breadth, ultimately providing a shallow gaming experience, but one which should dazzle the fans, from Stan Lee's opening narration to the final collection of hidden golden spiders, and alternative suit downloads.

FOUR'S A CHARM
The impetus for the plot is mind-numbing enough: camp Big Daddy Mysterio has shattered an ancient artefact packed with nondescript powers, and it's left to clairvoyant mutant Madame Web to order Spidey to take on four distinct forms in four dimensions to track down all the pieces.

This amounts to three acts for each dimension, each act being a drawn-out boss battle against villains like Kraven, Doc Ock and Deadpool. There are plenty of sidehows on the way to the final fight, but it's an incredibly narrow path, and anyone who doesn't whoop with joy at the first sniff of a multi-stage boss battle may want to leave well alone.

Nevertheless, by keeping every level so simple, Beebox have crafted a pretty sleek title, with cut-scenes lush enough for a TV show spin-off and only minor graphical niggles (usually triggered by the perennial headaches that come from having a central character that can move in any direction and stick to any surface).

The different art style for each dimension gets a round of applause too - cel-shaded for Amazing, comic bookstyle for Ultimate, glossy for 2099. But it's the bronzed and broody Noir section which raises eyebrows.

SPIDER-BAT
Relocating Peter Parker's story to the 1930s, the Noir section's reliance on stealth and brutality absolutely begs to be compared to Arkham Asylum from the start - and surprisingly, it doesn't completely disgrace itself in the process.

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Admittedly, the takedowns you trigger while skulking in the rafters are more automatic than Batman's moves and the AI's not too smart (targets do tend to be dumb hoodlums, but still...).

Nevertheless it's a stylish change of pace, only slightly marred by being so dark you have to make frequent use of your light-shedding Spider Sense, which sort of defeats the purpose.

Every dimensional act boasts its own challenges and set-pieces on the way to the showdown, be it first-person scrapping utilising the thumbsticks, using accelerated vision to freefall through the spaceship-packed skies of 2099 New York on the trail of the Hobgoblin, or dodging Kraven's bullets to fell trees and open up the path ahead.

But for all this, the linear 'kill all the goons to unlock the door' format will never set pulses racing, and the truth is that even the most weak-thumbed lame-o-gamer will have to try very hard to actually fail a mission on anything but the hardest difficulty.

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