Not Amazing, But Still Good Fun

User Rating: 7.5 | Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions DS
I have to say, I was a huge proponent of Web of Shadows (WoS) on DS, and I still think it's a sorely overlooked and under-rated action gem. The combat is silky smooth; the level design is fun and varied; and the bosses were balls to the wall. This latest Spidey outing is developed by mostly the same folks who worked on WoS, but the web swinger has lost some of his charm this time around.

The game is broken up into three dimensions -- three subtly different Spideys. The main differences between the three heroes is that Future Spidey can glide through the air, and Noir Spidey can sense hidden objects. Eventually, though, their powers carry over to each other, and the gameplay for each is essentially the same.

That being said, the gameplay is still mostly enjoyable from start to finish. The Metroid-style level design makes the acquisition of new abilities completely satisfying, and there are really no throwaways in term's of Spider-man's abilities. The designers of the combat system have taste and talent, and Spidey's brawler prowess is at the heart of what makes this game so much fun to play.

Unfortunately, the experience system of WoS is gone, and abilities are now earned strictly through exploration. I dig the latter aspect of the game, but without experience, there's now less incentive to fight. Some battles are unavoidable, however, and the pacing for the beat-em-up gameplay is, I think, better this time around.

Other minor changes to Spidey's arsenal of moves make Shattered Dimensions (SD) a little less endearing for me. His dodge move isn't quite as flexible this time around, and the boss A.I. is nowhere near as challenging. On the flip side, the final boss in SD is more interesting, though he's pretty easy to beat.

Everything was easier for me because, well, I was able to set the difficulty level for combat low. I did that because the combat was otherwise laborious. Like WoS, the enemies have tons of health, and bouts can drag on endlessly. I love the combat and Spidey's moves so much, I just didn't have the heart to suffer through battles that overstayed their welcome.

If there is one solid complaint I could levy against the game, it's that the level design for Future Spider-man seems ill-conceived. Falling from the top of a level block can often mean having to traverse the entire level again. Of course, there are other elements of the level design that are truly inspired, especially the areas toward the end of the game that require some pretty fancy, platforming footwork.

The game still looks great, though backgrounds aren't quite as pretty or interesting this time around. The animations are stellar, considering the DS hardware, even if most everything here is recycled and reskinned from WoS. The music is a bit darker in tone, and the sound effects and enemy blurbs are all stuff I've heard before.

In spite of lacking the polish of Web of Shadows, I still had a good time with the game. It's about the same length as WoS -- that is to say, it's really short -- but they've added some great challenges that will put your Spidey skills to the test. If you enjoyed the last Spidey DS game, it's safe to say you'll dig this one as well.