When pop icon combines with popular media, the results can be a mixed bag. Spider-Man, however, succeeds on multiple levels in his latest video-game romp, "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions." The Web-head has, because "Shattered Dimensions" is about different planes of existence and that means different Spidey incarnations each striving for a common goal.
The story, penned by veteran Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, begins with Mysterio breaking into a museum to steal a tablet that keeps planar existence in check. Spider-Man barges in, breaks the tablet and must travel through time periods to retrieve the pieces. That gives the writers an excuse to bring four Spider-Mans into the game: Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Noir Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2009. The story itself is not strong, but the art direction and the action make up for it.
The game traces a path from the level entry point to the goal, which is usually a boss enemy and a piece of the tablet. Which path is taken, how many collectibles are picked and how the boss is beaten is up to the player.
In addition to the terrific visual treatment, the audio pulls from past incarnations of Spidey, such as Dan Gilvezan of "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" fame. There's a great cast of villains, 15 challenges per level (180 total), the typical leveling up capabilities, and a marked difference graphically between story cut scene and game play elements--though both work well together.
While there are typical moments found in previous Spidey video games, there are some surprises that make the action rather intense and interesting--like when the game goes into first-person view and you have to duke it out with the enemy, throwing jabs, hooks and overhands while dodging incoming blows. It's almost like the Web-crawler jumped into "EA Sports Fight Night" for a few rounds. All in all, it works very well here, and there are freeze frames of punches well struck that could have been lifted straight from a Spider-Man comic book.
Activision and Marvel put the creative reins in the hands of developer Beenox, and the latter took chances that paid off well. Sure, there are familiar elements, but there is also creative use of the license that brings freshness to the video-game franchise.