|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Shaba||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
All of you wondering about Spider-Man: Web of Shadows have followed the ups and downs of recent games concerning the wall-crawler. Most of those games have been based on the film franchise in recent years. That can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on who you ask. One thing is for certain though, there has always been a natural progression to the games and Web of Shadows is no exception.
Taking place outside of the movie storyline, Treyarch and Shaba Games were able to refocus Spider-Man on what was most important, his comic book roots. The storyline delves into an aspect that has been handled in the comics before - a symbiote invasion. It all begins with a seemingly harmless encounter with Venom, except while fighting this time, part of the symbiote attaches itself to Spider-Man. As the story progresses, you discover this reintroduction is only the beginning of the larger invasion. It also adds some really cool features, increasing the gameplay. In the progress of unraveling the tale, you will encounter several supporting cast members including, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Black Cat, and Moon Knight. The inclusion of Moon Knight puzzled me, especially considering the relationship Spidey has with the other characters in the game, but hey, I was glad to see Moon Knight in a game with a speaking role.
In addition to the characters you encounter, there are also classic locations that are either mentioned or that you'll swing past, ensuring comic aficionados are able to fully experience New York the way Spidey would. My personal favorite has to be Stark Tower because not only is it massive, but also is depicted the way it is currently in the Mighty Avengers. Other noteworthy locations you will spot are The Daily Bugle, Hell's Kitchen, and Wilson Fisk's, better known as The Kingpin building. These comic book landmarks are extremely easy to point out due to the amount of detail in the game.
This is one of the areas Web of Shadows excels at. While not relying on the realistic approach of Spider-Man 3 or playing heavily on the comic book-centric Ultimate Spider-Man, Web of Shadows finds a comfortable blend between the two. Considering amount of time spent swinging through the city, its good to have a landscape that is pleasing to the eyes. Spider-Man himself looks fantastic. Instead of relying on the movie costume that hindered the smoothness of the look, the costume appears sleek and detailed. One of the great things about the costume was you could see the crease around the back of Spideys head. Unfortunately, some of the other characters did not receive that level of attention in their design. While most consistently look sharp and slick, there are a few instances where you can see the inconsistency. This doesnt really detract from the game, but when fighting alongside Black Cat, you dont want infrequent character modeling to be what distracts you; you want it to be something else.
As I stated earlier, the inclusion of the Symbiote suit adds drastic improvements to the gameplay. You can choose between the classic costume (Red Suit) or the Symbiote (the equally iconic Black Suit) on the fly. By doing so, this allows you to unleash truly amazing combos onto enemies. Each suit has its own sense of combat as well. The Red Suit offers more of an agile approach with a lot of aerial combat, while the Black Suit offers more power and strength to your attacks. Granted, you can solely rely on one suit or the other, but experimenting with changing at a whim really opens up the combat system like never before.
Probably my favorite new addition to the combat is the "Web-Strike." These are done by launching yourself in to the air and web-zipping to your enemy and performing various web-based attacks. Several times, I found myself in awe at the cinematic approach to the combat. It made it much easier to believe in Spider-Man's reflexes as opposed to the previous entries, which felt stale and somewhat contrived. I personally can't wait to see how they grow this system in future installments. It is one of the biggest reasons you will continue playing the game.