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Is this the new Arkham Asylum?

Opinion: Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions' timing couldn't be better, says Tom Pakinkis...

Show of hands: Who's excited about Batman Arkham City? Yeah, well pipe down. It's a long way off yet.

Look, I'm just as pumped as the next Bat-fan for Rocksteady's sequel - but right now we need to concentrate on gaming survival. I'm with you, brother. I won't let you die out here.

Basically, we need Arkham Asylum 1.5. Something to tease the palette; moisten the tongue - and fill the Bat-shaped hole.

So I put it to you that maybe, just maybe, you could fill that void with web. I'm talking Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions.

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Okay, okay. Hear me out before you jettison a Batarang at my bonce.

What was it that made the astronomically hard-to-please comic book community accept Arkham Asylum with quivering arms? Luscious presentation, an unwavering respect for the source-material and, most importantly, the way it made players really feel like the Caped Crusader.

Shock news, then - especially for you, Mr. Kotick: Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions actually measures up.

The visuals, for example, take a different approach to Arkham Asylum with bright, vivid cel-shading, which deferentially compliment (and complement) the game's comic-book roots.

There's no shortage of web-lore, either. Where Batman had corridors of rogue gallery memorabilia to uncover, Shattered Dimensions offers four different Marvel universes to play in - and four different takes on Spidey, straight from the comics.

Players slip from one Spandex suit to the next in a quest to pick up broken bits of a magic slab of stone. (Okay, so the story's not much cop).

There's an arachnid hero in here for everyone: The Amazing Spider-Man is the classic Peter Parker; Ultimate Spider-Man sees our protagonist augmented by the Symbiote suit.

2099 Spider-Man, meanwhile, comes with technologically enhanced abilities and a gruffer, older voice. But it's Noir Spidey from Marvel's 1930's re-imagining that Arkham fans will want to pay most attention to.

STICKY STEALTH
The levels that feature this gloomy Spider-Man are, as you might expect, set in fairly open areas shrouded in darkness - save a few pools of illumination. Funny, really - because you're about to see the light...

Spidey often starts perched atop a lamp post, or a girder... a gargoyle, perhaps? Below, faceless henchmen with machine guns slowly pace up and down. Do you see where this is going?

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Stick to the shadows and you can move right up to a goon, or just above him, and trigger a stealth attack, zipping down from the rafters or dragging enemies towards you and webbing them up good. Are you catching my drift?

If you noobishly step into the light, gunmen instantly open fire - and you can't take too many hits before you're good and dead. How does the game suggest you escape such a sticky situation? Shoot a bit of web to the ceiling and snap back into darkness... Do I REALLY need to give you any more clues?

Fine. Noir Spider-Man is Batman: Arkham Asylum. The levels aren't 'influenced' by Arkham Asylum, they don't 'borrow' from Rocksteady's game; this is not a case of Spider-Man showing 'shades' of The Bat.

Beenox has taken Arkham Asylum's Silent Predator segments, cel-shaded them and substituted Bruce Wayne for a shadowy Peter Parker. If that excites you, bravo. You are a sane human being.

So there's your Arkham Asylum 1.5. That should keep you ticking over nicely until the real deal comes out, right?

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