The past few Spider-Man games have stuck with the open-world Manhattan popularized by 2004’s Spider-Man 2. In Shattered Dimensions, Spidey returns to the level-by-level approach, whacking baddies in linear areas that culminate in a boss battle. Some may consider this a jump backwards, as web-slinging through the New York skyline certainly did make you feel as agile and free and Spidey himself, but after four trips there in just four years, maybe an old-school shot in the arm is just what Dr Connors (opens in new tab)ordered.
It doesn’t hurt that the levels in question are pulled from Marvel’s many alternate timelines, meaning we’ll get to see and play universes that’ve been fairly ignored up to this point. We already knew the classic Marvel Universe was here, along with the futuristic Spider-Man 2099 and the recent Spider-Man Noir, but the fourth was intentionally left a mystery – until now, that is.
In case you can’t quite tell, that’s the Ultimate Universe (opens in new tab). It kicked off in 2000, representing a fresh 21st Century take on Marvel’s classic characters. In the game though, you’ll be fighting with the black symbiote suit, a strange fit as Spidey only wore it for a handful of issues (opens in new tab)back in 2003. Be that as it may, the suit does affect how you play, so let’s get into the details.
Seen here smashing Ultimate Deadpool, black suit Spidey attacks with his tendrils and overwhelming power instead of tricky web-slinging. In fact, the areas we played barely involved swinging at all, focusing instead on racking up combos to build up the suit’s rage meter (yes, rage meter) which, you guessed it, triggers more powerful moves.
Each of the four dimensions comes with its own look, so Ultimate is aping the 2005 Ultimate Spider-Man game and going for a cartoonish, cel-shaded appearance. Between the distinct look and the specific symbiote powers, Ultimate should end up a fairly different experience from the regular universe, which many rightly claimed would be too similar in terms of gameplay. It’s true, that compared to Noir and 2099, Ultimate is remarkably close to the Marvel Universe, but the differentiation we saw seemed like a strong start.
Though the screens today show Deadpool, the area we played revealed Carnage as the main villain of the Ultimate segments. He’s managed to take over the Ultimates’ Triskellion base and filled it with symbiote knock-offs; meanwhile the Triskellion robo-squad is targeting all symbiote infestations, which happens to include you. So, naturally, it’s you against everyone.
All four dimensions contain various challenges to complete and emblems to collect, both of which help unlock new moves for all four Spider-Men via the Web of Destiny chart. In other words, combo and health upgrades you unlock in one dimension will carry over to their equivalent slots in the others. However, certain character-specific moves, like 2099’s accelerated vision, do not transfer.
Speaking of 2099, we got a quick demo that showed future-Spidey Miguel O’Hara using his pointy foils to scream down the side of a skyscraper, chasing a metallic Hobgoblin as neon-laced cars zip by like a congested Coruscant. Unlike Ultimate’s vibrant look, 2099 opts for a “realistic” depiction of the world, with heavy details on the suit and surrounding environment. And, even though you’re still on a set path, you can see glimpses of just how far and high-up this city stretches.
O’Hara’s gameplay revolves more around CQC than webs, and as a less-than-welcome hero in the 2099 universe, you’ll have to get up in a lot of people’s faces instead of hanging back or using the usual Spidey acrobatics to flip around the area.
Next page: Hands-on with Noir and new screens of the regular universe