Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions DS Preview: Hand not held

At a recent preview event for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Activision had all versions of the game playable but, for the life of me, I just couldn't put the DS game down. Developed by Griptonite, the DS version is heavy on the exploration and features a light, fluid combat system.

The DS game features only three different dimensions: Amazing, Noir and 2099. Lacking the Ultimate realm, the game also puts less emphasis on the differences between each dimension. Spidey's abilities at the outset of entering each dimension are a tad different, but the mix of climbing and combat remains the same.
%Gallery-100781% The first realm I stepped into was Amazing, where the emphasis was on getting used to Spidey's abilities. In minutes, I was swinging and crawling along walls with ease. The DS game felt more traditional here. The approach of the console games is very linear, showing you where you need to go and making sure you don't divert from that path. In the DS game, the map tells you where your goal is, but gives you the freedom to navigate the environment at your own pace -- at least, the parts you can actually reach at first.

When it comes to combat, there's a general attack button to string together combos. It gets pretty stale by itself, but Spidey's webbing can wrap guys up, pull enemies out of the air and juggle them. For a DS game, it felt really good. Upon crossing over into the Noir dimension -- which doesn't really focus on stealth as it does in the console versions -- my combat skills were tested by Boomerang. Spoiler: He tosses a boomerang at you, which you have to catch with your webbing and hurl back (wouldn't that have happened anyway?) in order to defeat him.

After defeating Boomerang, I progressed to the next room where I was granted Spider-Man's regular ability to crawl on walls. This was absent at the start of the dimension, and only by defeating the boss was I able to expand my repertoire of moves and gain access to more areas in Noir. If you've played Spider-Man: Web of Shadows on DS (or any of the system's Castlevania games) you'll recognize the formula.

Even though the limitations of the system are obvious -- Shattered Dimensions DS isn't pretty to look at, by any means -- I still felt like it had the best sense of being Spider-Man out of all the versions. Spider-Man should be unencumbered, and half of the fun is swinging around and exploring the environment. Even though I wasn't leaping from rooftop to rooftop or navigating a huge, virtual metropolis, having the choice to go left or right went a long way towards my enjoyment of the game.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.