I’ve been spoiled with high quality single player experiences lately, rumours of the demise of single player gaming, it would seem, are grossly exaggerated.

Although I wouldn’t put Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on the same level as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys simple combo-based 3rd person action games, the kind of which were all the rage about a decade ago.  Spider-man was one of my favourite Saturday morning cartoon’s back in the late 80’s, but as much as I have a soft spot for Spidey I think it’s fair to say that the storyline has never been up to much.  [i]Super villain does bad thing; Spidey stops them, making smart ass comments on the way[/i] is pretty much the order of the day, and always has been, and this game certainly does nothing to diverge from that formula.

The various alternate universe Spider-men are well after my time, and as such I’ve no real attachment to them as characters, however from a gameplay point of view they are a great addition.  Each plays in it’s own way, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between each Spider-man’s abilities really help to keep the gameplay fresh.
The web of Destiny challenges on each level were a nice touch, providing small goals to aim for each level, sometimes things like this can end up just creating an end-game grind for completionists, but these challenges were mostly just rewards for exploring the various gameplay mechanics.

As for collectibles, this game wasn’t too bad to be fair.  There are just 8 hidden spiders on 12 levels.  Most are easily located, however some are so well hidden I honestly think I would have gone crazy searching for them without a guide.

Each level can be mastered in 3 categories:

  1. Combo – Each attack is has a different combo score, there is no penalty for overusing a single combo despite what many mis-informed people on the Internet will tell you.  I found that spamming the Y Y Y attack was enough to beat the platinum requirements for all levels.
  2. Emblem – Dotted throughout the levels are Spider-man emblems, collecting these refill your health.  90% of them are in plain sight, with a few scattered high up in roofs/just off the beaten path.  The platinum medal for each level does not require you to even collect 100% of the emblems; I hit the platinum requirement for all but one of the levels on my first playthrough.
  3. Time – Comparing the par times to the times my first playthrough took I thought this would be a real challenge, however by the time I attempted these on playthrough 3 for each level I nailed nearly every level at the first attempt, and those that I failed were seconds out rather than minutes.

After playing through the game once normally, I was well short of a platinum medal in many categories on most levels, so it wasn’t as if I was only replaying to search for hidden spiders, and it actually works out quite well truth be told.  I played each level 3 times:

Playthrough 1

No guides, no goals, just doing what comes naturally.

Playthrough 2

After completing the entire game this was my “refresher” playthrough, reminding me of the level layout & boss strategy in preparation for the speed-run on playthrough 3.  This was also the playthrough where I picked up any missing platinum medals in the Combo and Emblem categories. This is the only playthrough I referred to a guide; using this to find any missing Hidden Spiders — I only managed to find all the hidden spiders on 2 of the 12 levels on my first playthrough, and I was pretty thorough in my exporation.

Playthrough 3

My final playthrough; a speed run for the timed medals.  Playing each level right after playthrough 2 really helped with this, as I breezed through the levels well under the par times.

The end result of these 3 playthroughs is a very satisfying, non-grind, 100% completion.

If you’re gaming time is limited I couldn’t recommend this over the similarly priced, yet superior and much more engaging Enslaved: OttW.  However, if you’ve already played that game, or have room in your heart for two new single player games you could do much worse than Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions.

From a completionists point of view I cannot fault this game.  There is a constant sense of progression, many games offer up 90% completion and then put the final 10% behind a massive grind, Shattered Dimensions paces the achievements well from start to finish.  The goals in the Web of Destiny certainly add to the sense that everything you do is bringing you closer to that tingly feeling that only 100% can bring!