With this year's Wondercon about to unfold, Activision gave press in San Francisco a chance Friday morning to preview their latest Spider-Man game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, scheduled for release this September.
"We wanted to do something a little different," said Activision senior producer Meghan Morgan.
A lot of the "different" has already been revealed, specifically that the game will take place in four different Spider-Man "dimensions." Two were already disclosed earlier this week: the classic "Amazing" Spider-Man universe ("Marvel 616" for the initiated), and in a more left field choice, "Spider-Man Noir," based on the recent 1930s-set projects.
"Spider-Man himself looks, feels, plays differently from universe to universe," Morgan said.
The remaining two universes are yet to be revealed, but logic would figure that announcements might fall at E3 in June and Comic-Con International in July. It's easy to speculate which versions of the character might be coming next, but both Activision and the developers—Quebec City-based Beenox—wouldn't share any hints.
A motivating force behind depicting different takes of Spider-Man was simply to take Spider-Man out of the familiar trappings of New York City, and into fresher surroundings. The "Amazing" level shown this morning featured Spider-Man in the jungle, facing off against Kraven the Hunter (classic, Sergei Kravinoff Kraven) and his minions. The "Noir" levels places Spidey in NYC, but a much darker, grimmer (and very 1930s) version than usual—with the Noir Spider-Man crawling around a dimly lit loading dock and train depot.
The demoed Noir level villain was gangster supervillain Hammerhead, who hasn't yet been depicted in a Noir comic. Morgan explained that the development team felt he was a natural fit for the Noir universe, and that they used him with Marvel's approval. Villains are vitally important to the game, as each level is centered around its boss.
"Everything from the design of the level, the setting, what the minions look like, what type of props are in the environment—are all specifically tailored around what the personality of that particular boss is," Morgan said.
Another way Activision wanted Shattered Dimensions to be different was getting away from the open world, sandbox-style of pretty much every Spider-Man game since 2004's movie game. Shattered Dimensions is much more linear and level-based. You can play the four different worlds in any order you want, but have to progress past the first "act in each before playing the second.
Though controls will be thankfully consistent from world-to-world, buttons will trigger different attacks across the universes, with each one catered to that version of Spider-Man—for instance, the "Amazing" Spidey will be able to pull off more webbing tricks than his three counterparts.
"The combat system is a unified combat system among all four universes," Morgan said. "Once you've unlocked a combo, once you've unlocked an upgrade to a move in one universe, you still have that as you move to the next universe, but the animation that plays will be different, and it will look and feel within the vibe of that particular universe."
Another neat gameplay aspect showed off was a first-person combat system that'll be used, in part, for some boss battles. Morgan pointed out that past Spider-Man games didn't let you get too close to the villains due to the pulled-back third-person camera, and this will rectify that—as well as showing damage, and the personality of both Spider-Man and his various bad guys through voice over dialogue.
As noted in earlier press for the game, current Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott contributed to the story of the game.
"He really helped us come up with a story that would make sense within the Spider-Man canon, and be very authentic to Spider-Man and his relationship with these villains," Morgan said.
Activision is holding a panel for the game Saturday afternoon at Wondercon, and will be joined by Christopher Daniel Barnes, who voiced Spider-Man in the '90s cartoon and will voice Spider-Man Noir. Morgan noted that all four Spider-Mans in the game will have different voices, and each actor is someone that has voiced the character before (let more speculation commence!).