2018's spectacular PS4 exclusive Marvel's Spider-Man is widely considered to be the wallcrawler's best game. It's even getting a follow-up later this year.
But another mostly forgotten Spider-Man game celebrates many different versions of the character and gives Insomniac's game a run for its money. Without it, we never would've gotten 2018's fantastic animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions from Beenox and Activision turned 10 years old on September 7, and it happens to be one of the best and most important Spider-Man games ever made. Here’s why.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions had an ambitious premise for an Xbox 360 and PS3 licensed superhero game. After the Tablet of Order and Chaos is destroyed in a fight between Spider-Man and Mysterio, the main (Earth 616) version of Spider-Man has to work with Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Man Noir to find all of the pieces of the tablet.
When Shattered Dimensions first came out in a pre-MCU and Miles Morales world, it felt like the Avengers Endgame for the Spider-Verse before Endgame was even a thing.
The tablet’s pieces have fallen into the hands of various villains who have used it to power themselves up. Every version of Spider-Man must get these pieces of the tablet back, facing off with various characters like Kraven the Hunter, Spider-Man 2099’s Hobgoblin, the Ultimate universe’s Deadpool, and Spider-Man Noir’s Vulture.
Shattered Dimensions is full of fan service for its respective universes. They all play differently at some points too, with Spider-Man Noir leaning into stealth in his black-and-white levels and Spider-Man 2099’s stages giving players the ability to slow down time.
Where newer superhero games like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Avengers have players taking on similar-looking foes throughout the whole game, every level of Shattered Dimensions is wholly distinct, with unique enemies and bosses. Many contain memorable setpieces too, like when players view Spider-Man through the sniper scope of Kraven the Hunter and must skillfully dodge his shots.
That said, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a game of its time. None of its systems go too deep, and quick-time events are pretty prevalent throughout the whole campaign. Fortunately, each universe, and even every level within them, differ enough from each other that these elements never get too frustrating.
While it doesn’t have the enjoyable physics-based web-slinging and combat of Marvel’s Spider-Man, it makes up for it in spades with its style and story. It’s a short game too at around eight hours. It’s a fun way to spend a weekend for those eager to experience just how much the game revels in Spider-Man’s rich tapestry of worlds and characters,.
Into the Shattered Dimensions-Verse
Every Spider-Man voice actor in Shattered Dimensions is someone who’s played the web-slinger before. Neil Patrick Harris reprises his role from MTV's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, playing the Earth-616 Spider-Man. Spider-Man Noir is voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes, who played the character in the classic 1990s show. Spectacular Spider-Man's Josh Keaton is the voice actor behind the Ultimate universe's Spider-Man.
Even Dan Gilvezan, who voiced the character in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, returns to portray Spider-Man 2099. The game is narrated by Stan Lee, and the voice cast is full of other familiar names like John DiMaggio, Steven Blum, and Nolan North, making Shattered Dimensions feel like the high-school reunion of Spider-Man media.
If this fan-service-filled multiverse gimmick sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Comic book writer Dan Slott wrote Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and confirmed to Variety in 2019 that the universe crossover ideas established by this game had a notable influence on him pitching 2014’s now-famous Spider-Verse crossover.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out in 2018 to critical acclaim and ended up winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Without Shattered Dimensions, that movie might have never come to be. This is a game that not only served as a love letter to all of Spider-Man, but it also had an impact on the future of the character as well.
Stuck at the Edge of Time
Unfortunately, it is tough to get a copy of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions now because of licensing issues. The game isn't backward compatible with Xbox One, isn't on PlayStation Now, and was delisted from Steam back in 2017. This series it started also fizzled out after its sequel, Spider-Man: Edge of Time. You’ll have to track down a physical copy of the game for PS3 or Xbox 360, which is about $30 at GameStop.
That effort is totally worth it for fans of Spider-Man. As fantastic as a re-release would be, it seems unlikely. Marvel Games is focusing on new titles and Insomniac is making brand new Spider-Man games. At the very least, one can hope Marvel Games works things out and can get added to backward compatibility on Xbox one day.
It may not be as polished as Marvel’s Spider-Man, but Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is no slouch. 10 years later, it still stands as a fantastic celebration of every facet of Spider-Man that has had a profound effect on the character as a whole. Happy birthday, Shattered Dimensions.