Activision brought a new universe from Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions to Gamescom, one that I was lightly familiar with; the one set in the year 2099.
That's the one that doesn't have Peter Parker as Spider-Man's alter-ego. Instead we play as Miguel O'Hara. This Spider-man universe is shiny to the point of being distracting, bursting with light and set in a world even more vertically oriented than that of Peter Parker's New York City.
My latest hands-on experience with Spider-Man started with a free-fall. Similar to the Ultimate Spider-Man level I'd played at Comic-Con a month earlier, I was chasing an alternate reality version of a well-known Spider-Man bad guy.
Last time, it was Ultimate Carnage. This time, it was Hobgoblin 2099, a character that didn't exist in the comparatively short-lived, futuristic Marvel comic book series.
I, as Spider-Man 2099, chased Hobgoblin by falling faster and faster. It was a rapid descent that required dodging obstacles that I couldn't quite make out amidst the blinding lights and bright colours of the glossy 2099 universe. It was like an early level of God of War III, the one in which Kratos used his Icarus wings to fly high and attack a Titan. It was like the free-falling l had just played in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, only I didn't have a pair of lightsabers and Force powers to move stuff out of my way.
After falling faster and faster, I pressed B.
I pressed B a lot. I did it to grab onto the Hobgoblin and take him down; I did it to snatch his pumpkin bombs out of the sky and throw them back at him; I did it again to lock onto some Hobgoblin clones and kick them into nothingness.
The Hobgoblin of 2099 in Shattered Dimensions can do things like create illusions of himself that require Spidey-kicking. The game's other bosses can also do things they couldn't normally do in Spider-Man comic books, because they have touched the power of the Tablet of Order and Chaos, the thing that causes Spider-men from multiple dimensions to come together to dispatch new evil.
All that B pressing wasn't bad. I mixed it up with pressing X and Y on the Xbox 360 controller to beat up armoured Hobgoblin lackeys. I doubled jumped around with A and occasionally fell of the side of one of the massive skyscrapers I was on. To stop Spider-Man 2099 from splattering on the sidewalk below, I pulled the right trigger and webbed my way back up.
Eventually, I pressed B enough and at the right times to beat up Hobgoblin enough for him to run away. So I chased again. That's how these boss bottles will thread themselves through Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions, I'm beginning to gather. They're chase sequences mixed with a boss fight variety show that can involve set pieces, stunts and neat tricks like first-person fist fights.
Like the Noir and Ultimate dimensions I'd played with before, 2099 was fun—and Spider-man controlled well in combat. Unlike the others, it had a unique aesthetic and a few gameplay diversions scattered throughout.
I've never actually finished a boss battle in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimension. Activision has always stopped me from going past a certain point. But they have me curious to see what's next, whether it turns out to be amazing or not.