Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

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A lot of people must hate Rocksteady right now - a lot of superhero game developers must, anyway. Unshackled by a movie tie-in and free to focus on a single location along with a bespoke, carefully selected cast, Batman: Arkham Asylum changed a sizable audience's idea of what a comic book game could be.

Rather than a thin coating of licence slapped over a lame brawler, its mechanics were born out of the central character's particular strengths and - most brilliantly - weaknesses. The result was elegant, pacy and inspired.

Hopefully, Arkham may have forced rival developers to get their acts together. There have been good Spider-Man games before, granted, but not for a few years. While a hands-off presentation means it's impossible to get a sense of the quality of the latest attempt, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions does at least look like one of the more interesting of the web-swinger's recent offerings.

Instead of doing an Arkham, however, and zeroing in on a particular interpretation of who Spider-Man is, developer Beenox has gone in completely the opposite direction, tearing open the Marvel multiverse - does DC own the term multiverse? Probably - and offering four iconic takes on the character.

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The Amazing universe seems to be the least exciting so far. Noir seems intriguing, while 2099 promises glitzy visual flourishes.

The justification for all of this multi-Spidey mayhem comes down to some manner of contrived parallel universe incident that has apparently lead to the mysterious Tablet of Order and Chaos being busted into pieces. I know: sounds bad.

That means it's up to Spider-Man to track down the separate shards, all of which have fallen into different dimensions. This leaves the player with a game that has a single story spread across four diverse environments, with four different Spider-Men to try out. All of them utilise the same basic controls, but have their own quirks and emphases.

Hopefully, the different dimensions will go deeper than a mere pallet swap. The first Spider-Man the game introduces you to is the regular guy: the standard-issue Amazing variant. His world is gently cel-shaded and - rather disappointingly for fans of Spider-Man 2 - exchanges an open-plan New York for a pretty linear-looking jungle adventure.

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Each Spidey is voiced by a different actor, all of whom have played the role in the past.

Backgrounds are drawn with bright colours and nice, cartoony stylisations, and there's plenty of collectables sprinkled around, but this appears to be the vanilla dimension, a simple acrobatic brawler filled with plenty of opportunities to let loose with basic combos and web attacks.

The second dimension seems a lot more interesting. Spider-Man's new Noir incarnation is based on a short-lived series of comic books that saw Peter Parker duking it out with baddies during the Great Depression.

What this translates to in-game is a stealthier take on the character, as a leather-clad Spidey - looking a little like the Rocketeer - picks his way through the dank shadows of a sepia-toned New York, taking out heavily-armed enemies before they can draw a bead on him.

On paper this sounds fantastic, and there's plenty of appealing concept artwork showing hulking locomotives lined up in dingy rail yards and spindly radio antennas ripe for scaling.

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