Interviews// Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: Kevin Umbricht, Associate Producer

Posted 8 Jun 2010 18:00 by
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a game that looks to draw inspiration away from the Hollywood movies and towards the medium that started it all – the comic books. Starring four different Spidermen from different universes and alternate realities, players will be crossing dimensions to help piece together a broken Tablet of Order and Chaos.

During an Activision presentation, I was treated to several gameplay demos of three different universes that each provide a slightly different approach to the traditional web-slinging action. The Amazing Spider-Man sports a cel-shaded comic book design, while the Noir levels offer a darker, grittier feel along with stealth gameplay. Finally, Spider-Man 2099 was revealed as the third verse, providing futuristic acrobatic combat.

I sat down with the game's associate producer, Kevin Umbricht, to learn more about each universe, the specific comic references and how 1970s Spider-Man was a little bit “goofy.” Read on for the full discussion.

SPOnG: How is the game structured? The Noir level you shows on stage, you say isn't the first level – does the player go through all of the universes one by one or is there a constant swap between levels?

Kevin Umbricht: There's a three-act structure to the game, that's told via CG cinematics, so you play an opening tutorial level, then you go into Act One. You then play one level from each of the four universes, which you can play in whatever order you like. To move on to Act Two, you need to complete all four of those levels though. Acts Two and Three have the same four-level structure, before you face the final boss.

SPOnG: Does each version of Spider-Man stay in his own universe?

Kevin Umbricht: Yes, he does.

SPOnG: I found it interesting that there appeared to be different approaches with each version of Spider-Man – the Amazing universe was more melee based, while the Noir universe heavily encouraged stealth. Was it an aim of yours to have different gameplay styles for each Spider-Man?

Kevin Umbricht: Yes and no, because you have to keep it universal to a degree. You need to have your core Spider-Man powers with each universe, and each of the Spidermen have those same web-swinging, web-slinging actions... and they also have the same combat structure. You don't want the player to have to learn four different combat systems.

In the Noir universe that I demoed, while I was being stealthy I could have run up to those guys, webbed them up, and beat them up in the same melee fashion, but I chose to lurk in the shadows, to show you what was specific to this universe.

As you upgrade your characters, you unlock new combo moves, but it's the same button configuration that's been tailored to each of those universes. So the combos will be different – there'll still be your X, X, X combo but it'll look and feel different on each of those four universes.

SPOnG: So there is the opportunity to play a little bit differently in each universe? We will be able to freely stealth in various levels if we wanted to?

Kevin Umbricht: You could... the stealth ability is more exclusive to Noir, but based on its level design there's more than enough opportunity to play that way if you so inclined. We wanted a much more comic book feel – vibrant, energetic – for the Amazing universe, so we focused more on that when we designed those levels. And we chose the villains around that idea.

SPOnG: Is that carried over to the Spider-Man 2099 universe? Obviously not the comic book feel per se, but in terms of gameplay approach? Will it be closer to the Amazing universe in that it's more combat and melee oriented compared to the optional stealth in the Noir stages?

Kevin Umbricht: That's a little bit more... there's a big open city there, so there's a lot more swinging and acrobatics involved in that one.

SPOnG: So you'd say the 2099 universe is more about exploration and agility than anything else?

Kevin Umbricht: Yeah.

SPOnG: In the trailer that you showed, it appeared to go into a first-person perspective at the end. Are you able to elaborate on that at all?

Kevin Umbricht: Sure. During some key boss battles in the game, and during some scripted events too, you do go into a first-person mode. The simplest form of it is if you're falling a great distance, it cuts to a first-person shot of your hands. And in fighting the villains, we wanted to have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the villains, that we haven't really been able to do in past games.

The open world, and the way that Spidey moves – he's so quick, he covers great distances - means you don't often get a chance to get very close to your villains. So we wanted to exploit the fact that Spider-Man has this 50-year history with each of these guys – they have relationships, they're iconic characters with their own personalities.

We want to showcase that a lot in this game, so we introduced these first-person action sequences which basically works like a mini-game, similar to Punch-Out or something like that, just to have a little interactivity there.
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b3rb3r_sk1nkz 17 Aug 2010 13:14
Hey I'm just wondering if when you not doing these missions can you run around the city and do what ever you want instead of doing missions???
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