hat We Already Know:
The last decade or so of Spider-Man games have done a fine job simulating the high-flying exploits of Peter Parker, so do we really need another? We do indeed, says Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
Shattered Dimensions shakes up series conventions up by introducing three alternate-universe web-slingers, each with their own styles and worlds. Why bless my stars, you suddenly look interested...
What We're Seeing Now:
First question: Why? Apparently some villain with a god complex shattered the Tablet of Order and Chaos, sending supernatural stone chunks into four different dimensions. You can rest assured this wreaked some sort of cataclysmic havoc. Now the four Spider-Men have to work toward a common goal, repairing the dimensional fissures—and stopping said villain—before Something Very Bad happens. This story is courtesy of Marvel writing bigwig Dan Slott, by the way.
Each Spider-Fellow has his own nickname and style. The Spider-Man we're all familiar with is referred to as "Amazing" Spider-Man, and he excels at agile, web-based combat (one of his key abilities is instantaneously forming giant axes and the like from webbing). "Noir" Spidey focuses on stealth, with great sneaking abilities and a surprising variety of stealth-kill options. The last currently known wallcrawler is "2099," a futuristic, free-falling daredevil who can glide on webbed wings and seems skilled in aerial combat. (In the E3 demo he plunged through a vertical corridor in pursuit of a very cool-looking Hobgoblin, to whom he latched on and administered a mid-air beatdown.)
The cool part, I think, is that you play each character within his own radically different take on the city. Amazing's New York looks pretty standard but Noir inhabits an extremely desaturated, extremely pretty depression-era version of the city, with fireworks providing irregular flashes of illumination and numerous high-wires strung between structures. In contrast, 2099's "Nueva York" is a techno-future metropolis built high above the ruins of the original city. Across the board, the level of imagination on display is nothing if not impressive.
Shattered Dimensions looks to have a few traits most recent Spider-Man games have lacked, namely inspiration, imagination and ambition. I look forward to the final character's unveiling—my interest is definitely piqued.