I finally managed to get my hands on Spider-Man at an Activision preview event yesterday here in San Diego, right before Comic-Con officially kicked off. We didn't have time to fully explore the game, but it was enough time to let us have a look at both the Noir and the newly announced Ultimate universe -- two of the four that the game will feature.
It was a good idea to have us play through a bit of the Noir world first, as Ultimate is quite different in comparison. While Noir had Spidey creeping through the shadows of a black and white world with sneaky stealth game play, Ultimate had him running around a vivid, cel-shaded world where all-out, one-vs-everyone was the order of the day.
As cool as Noir is (and looks), Ultimate was immediately approachable, with controls and gameplay that compares to games like Devil May Cry or Dynasty Warriors. Kind of. More after the break.
Spider-Man is small, fast and powerful in his Ultimate form, and it feels like he's just itching to kick some ass. I didn't hesitate to run into a crowd and start attacking with both punches and web flings. Both the Xbox 360's X and Y buttons are mapped to attacks that can be mashed and chained, and I used these until a sort of rage meter was filled. Once filled, hitting the left bumper button sent Spidey into badass mode. The screen turns red and his attacks are beefed up considerably. Continuiously landing hits while in this rage mode slows the steady decrease of the meter, letting you get in some bigger hits if you're good enough.
I was still able to swing about the world freely with the right trigger web fling, but I found that I was way too busy kicking ass on the ground to worry about flying. In fact, the only time this was used was to move from one battle area to the next, as my worked my way through a burning, chaotic city stage.
All of this action leads up to a boss battle with Carnage. At first I was working to get in some quick hits, dodging his flashy, wide-reaching attacks. After a bit of bashing the game switched me over into a first-person face punching session where the left and right analog sticks were mapped to my fists. Flopping the sticks about let me punch a pinned down Carnage in the face, which felt pretty good. Pulling back on the sticks at the proper time let me dodge his counters. While the gameplay here wasn't as serious, it served as a nice break from the button slamming during the boss battle. The fight returned to the regular third-person view, where I worked to dodge a widespread ground-based attack, trying my best to knock Carnage off a ledge and into an incinerator. Sadly, he killed me before I was able to do that.
The Ultimate form of Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions could work nicely as its own game, but I think it will work even better as a change of pace from the other universes in the game. Coming from Noir's sneaking and stealth kills in the dark to Ultimate's face bashing in the light felt pretty good.