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Critical Reception: Activision's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which reviews describe as "one of the best Spider-Man titles in recent memory."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which reviews describe as "one of the best Spider-Man titles in recent memory." Shattered Dimensions currently earns a score of 82 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. GamePro's McKinley Noble gives Shattered Dimensions 4.5 out of 5 stars. "While Spider-Man is a comic book icon and a successful movie star, his track record as a video game hero isn't nearly as good," he writes. "Thankfully, his latest adventure, Shattered Dimensions, is one of his best yet, offering four unique worlds, classic Spidey action, and an engaging story that puts it near the top of the franchise both in terms of quality and impact." Noble explains that Shattered Dimensions draws from many of Marvel's Spider-Man universes: "Shattered Dimensions offers up four very different and very unique dimensions to play through: the 'Amazing' universe is home to the original Spidey; an alternate 'Noir' world brings us the gritty and dark Spider-Man who prowls a 1930's era city; the 'Ultimate' world stars an alternate, younger Peter Parker bonded to the Venom symbiote; and 'a future yet to pass' dimension draws from the Spider-Man 2099 comic book where a geneticist named Miguel O'Hara takes on the webslinger's mantle." "By far, this is the one aspect of Shattered Dimensions that impressed me the most," Noble praises. "Instead of the wide-open GTA-style sandbox environments that were popular with Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man (and later botched with Spider-Man 3 and Web of Shadows), the development team at Beenox created over a dozen linear levels, tailor-made to compliment the respective villain at the end of the mission." "Overall, the result is both unique and stylish," Noble says. "Even if you've been burned on lackluster Spider-Man titles before, don't miss this game – Shattered Dimensions simply isn't the one to skip." Ben Reeves at Game Informer scores Shattered Dimensions at 8.5 out of 10. "Developer Beenox makes a strong argument for some of Spidey's time displaced alternates in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions," he claims. "Creating a game with four different main characters, four different worlds, four different art styles, and four different game types sounds overly ambitious, but any smart developer knows that it needs to change things up to keep the action fresh," Reeves notes. "The action in Shattered Dimensions is almost schizophrenic, but it's never boring. Usually in a game like this, half the action ends up feeling unpolished, but Beenox avoids that pitfall while making all of Shattered Dimensions' disparate game types flow seamlessly together." Reeves explains the differences between the game's four universes: "Amazing's gorgeous environments reminded me of Borderlands' comic book vistas, and its web-based combat felt different than any of the other worlds. I also loved 2099's neon-tipped environments and free-falling combat, which had me slamming super villains into any object that got in the way of gravity. "The Ultimate universe puts Spidey in the black suit and gives him a rage meter, which makes the action against hordes of smaller minions all the more fierce. But I may have had the most fun in the Noir universe, where its stealth-based levels allowed me to sneak through cracks in the shadows and whittle away the enemy numbers with a series of punishing takedowns." The game's narrative doesn't quite match the pace set by its gameplay, however. "My biggest disappointment is reserved for the story," Reeves says. "Activision got current Amazing Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott to help with the plot, but all Slott has done is draft up a bunch of puns so terrible you'll want to curse. The story details what happens when a mystical tablet shatters across several different dimensions, amplifying the powers of any supervillain who holds it. It's the kind of hackneyed plot that was fashionable in the ‘60s, and I thought the comic world already transcended this kind of storytelling." "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions lands just shy of being the full package," Reeves admits, "but it delivers a non-stop action ride with something new around every corner. Though its story leaves something to be desired, it's one of the best Spider-Man titles in recent memory, if not the best Spider-Man title to date." At Games Radar, Henry Gilbert rates Shattered Dimensions at 7 out of 10. "All the Spider-Men [in Shattered Dimensions are both different and the same," he explains. "All their movements are generally the same, as are the combo-heavy attacks and web-swinging controls. "But the big differences are in the details: the Amazing Spider-Man plays mostly like a no frills, classic action game; Spider-Man Noir is very stealth-based; Spider-Man 2099 has some free-falling sections; Ultimate Spider-Man occasionally goes into a berserker rage when the symbiote he's wearing takes over. This is almost like reviewing four different, smaller, but eerily similar games." Gilbert warns that this similarity makes the experience feel repetitive. "Playing through each world becomes familiar path, which gets a little predictable," he notes. "All of the levels are just so linear, which is certainly a change from the open world of recent Spidey games, but it gets old fast." "And there are just too many moments hindered by a frustrating lack of polish," Gilbert continues. "Sometimes it's a sloppy camera that makes it easy to lose track of whomever you're fighting. [...] And though the dialogue is at times legitimately funny, too many lines get repeated or said at the wrong time, hurting their impact and making them just annoying." "If the developers had given as much thought to the level variation as they did perfecting the Spider-Man mythos, we'd be looking at a real classic," Gilbert concludes. "Filled with enough fan service to make it an undeniable treat for Spider-maniacs, Shattered Dimensions is a fine game that's a little too uneven and repetitive to be more than the sum of its parts."

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