A little while back, we brought you the details of a sneak peek we’d had of the new Activision Spider-Man title. The much touted Shattered Dimensions looked to be a return to the free-ranging delights of earlier games rather than the yawning repetition of Web of Shadows.
Well, we’ve now managed to get our hands on the odd bit of test code and, I’m delighted to say, it’s not changed my mind. Yet. There is possibly a danger that the game will get a little repetitive – swing here, hit that, punch them, go there – but we’ll reserve judgement when we see the full thing. Besides, the four different Spider-Men on offer immediately give some variety.
And yes, as you’re probably aware, all four have now been announced. We previously got to see the Amazing Spider-Man – the traditional suit, the usual moves – Spider-Man Noir – a more stealth-based, 1930’s influenced level – and Spider-Man 2099. We asked you, dear readers, to speculate on what the fourth would be. So, did anyone say Ultimate Spider-Man? Big pats on the back if you did – although I still think Elizabethan Spider-Man would rock. Yay, verily rock, I sayeth...
So there we go, the fourth Spidey for Shattered Dimensions will be a symbiote-bonded Spidey. While that brings some fears of Web of Shadows-like control issues (“I want him to move, not change in to the *&^%ing black suit!”) it does at least mean some more varied game play.
Just to recap then, the story is the usual game story although, like the playable Spideys, they are all influenced / inspired by existing comics, which should score a few fan boy points. The game kicks off with the careless treatment of The Tablet of Order and Chaos. That gets broken into four pieces (you just can’t get decent cleaners anymore, can you?), which sends a ripple through the very fabric of space and time. Or something. Whatever it does, it’s up to the web-flinging one to save the day / planet (delete as applicable).
I didn’t, sadly, get my mitts on the Amazing Spider-Man or Spider-Man 2099. The latter was available but required so many legal requirements and embargo agreements I didn’t think it was safe to press “X” without my solicitor present. The former though was demonstrated and it looks pigging wonderful. As with the game as a whole, the influence is the comic book and the colours, the slight outline, the settings all suggest a playable Spider-Man cartoon.
We also had a bit of peek at 2099, which is gaudy but good. Here Spider-Man’s genetically enhanced suit means he can freefall for thousands of feet, which means the kickass action appears to be interspersed with regular chases (and flotsam-dodging) down the side of enormous skyscrapers and through vents and such like.
But back to the demo area and a bit of Ultimate Spider-Man and, the best looking of the bunch, Spider-Man Noir.
Ultimate, on the basis of this one-and-a-bit levels, is a blast with weapon-toting enemies aplenty but a barrage of tricks to overcome them and put together enormous combos. It seems a lot more full on, a frantic fight to the finish but that’s not a complaint. You can whip things with the symbiote and go crazy with an anger meter thing that makes you the animated equivalent of that enormous, Stella-fuelled, tattooed skinhead at closing time.
And then there’s Noir. Oh the noir, how do we love thee? As the name suggests, this is a grainy, almost black and white setting, with a Spider-Man that’s of the era. The lycra is non-existent so, instead, he sports a leather jacket, not to mention a mask that’s actually a modified World War I flying helmet.
In the test level I got to play (and I happily went through it three times), there are a handful of prisoners being held captive by the bad guys in a rail yard. At night. With lots of railway carriages to hide behind, clamber over and investigate. The idea is you lurk in the shadows then, when it’s safe to – i.e., the bad guy’s got his back to you and you can’t be seen by any of his colleagues – you can “stealth attack”. This typically involves snaring him in a web, hauling him towards you, beating the crap out of him and then sticking him to a wall / the side of a railway carriage. It’s IMMENSELY satisfying and requires a degree of patience and timing.
The full game is, we’re assured, imminent so stand by for a full review which, I suspect, will be quite a positive one.