Style over substance is the theme of Activision’s newest entry into their long running Spider-Man series. Keeping the open world aspect of previous Spidey games, Web of Shadows institutes a fresh new combat system that allows Peter Parker to beat down foes like never before. While the combat serves to keep things interesting, Web of Shadows eventually falls victim to the same trappings of its predecessors: the game is technically sloppy, the majority of the quests are vastly uninteresting, and there just isn’t anything interesting to do in this world.
Web of Shadows takes place over the course of 4 days, and unfortunately for Spidey, these 4 days turn out to be the worst of his life. From the get-go, Venom attacks, leaving Mary Jane hospitalized. He then manages to infect Peter with the black symbiote from Spider-Man 3, and so begins the game. The symbiote provides Peter with an alternate costume to fight in. Switching between the classic red suit and the black symbiote suit gives Spidey some varying experiences in the story, in addition to different bonuses in combat.
Fighting is where Spidey swings highest in Web of Shadows. The game provides players the opportunity to pull off combos in the triple digits, without bogging them down with dozens of different inputs. The player need only worry about what kind of hurt they want to put on their enemies. One button serves for melee, another for web grappling and another for projectiles. Once players unlock enough moves, they’ll be ripping enemies from the skies and surfing on their unconcious bodies in no time. The swinging has received the reverse treatment in Shadows. The free style swinging from Spider-Man 3 has been replaced with the more streamlined version found in Ultimate Spider-man, while some players will bawk at the lack of complexity, this is ultimately the easiest way to get around Manhattan. The combat does have its faults however, as it’s difficult to get a really good lock on enemies and the game doesn’t provide any really powerful sensory feedback for when you’ve been hit. All in all, the combat is an accomplishment, which is more than one can say for the rest of the game.
Over the course of the game’s story the player will have different moral choices to make, each choice represented by the two different forms of Spidey’s suit: black for villanous, red for heroic. Unfortunately, the only differences the choices yield are some slightly varying cutscenes and different Super-hero companions. Comic book fans will find a web-load (that’s an actual unit of measure in Latveria) of familiar faces in Web of Shadows. Spidey familiars such as Black Cat make appearances, but lesser known heroes like Moon Knight, also show up to help Spidey fend off baddies. In addition, the heroes double up as Spidey’s “quest givers”; I use this term because the majority of missions given to the player abide by the MMO style Kill X, Y number of times formula. There isn’t any real variety in the locations either, most of the fighting is done in the middle of the streets and there are slim to zero indoor locations. The actual story behind these events has something to do with a symbiote invasion of New York, but it is almost completely forgettable. In addition, the voice acting itself is pretty terrible, Peter Parker himself being notably atrocious.
Those looking for another Spider-Man centric action title, can and probably have done worse. But those seeking out something new and innovative from the action/sandbox genre should swing away from this one.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
A well realized version of Manhattan is marred by technical hiccups.
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The combat is incredibly fun, everything else is not.
The music and effects aren't horrible, but the voice acting is enough to keep the volume down.
Provided you actually complete the game, there isn't any reason to play through it again.
Rent it if you MUST play another Spidey game, otherwise, go play something else.