A Shadow of Responsibility
July 8, 2008 – I remember the days of my youth being wrapped tight in comic books. Whether it was the latest issue of Superman, Captain America, or the X-men, I was always nose deep in action. Through it all though, there was always one superhero I felt more attached to than any other: Spider-Man.
It was no wonder that when the original Spider-Man movie hit the big screen I was the first in line (literally, at my local theater). Unfortunately, I was equally amazed and annoyed by the way the Spider-Man films went from something spectacular to a disappointment in only three films. Thankfully, I had the onslaught of video games rolling out that starred the webbed wonder to assuage my grief. However, if it was not for Activision and Treyarch, I doubt that fans would be mildly intrigued by the upcoming Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows delivers a unique storyline. Venom has returned to Earth, specifically Manhattan, with what seems to be a legion of symbiotes, and S.H.I.E.L.D. quarantines Manhattan to prevent the spread of the invasion. As depicted in the trailer, everything is consumed by the aliens, and only one hero seems ready to take on Venom and his brethren: Spider-Man. Players will have to play with Spidey unlike ever before, joining and fighting both villains and heroes in order to ultimately take Venom and determine the outcome of the story.
While the info is sparse concerning the upcoming title, there is enough to get anyone’s spider-senses tingling. For starters, this will be the first time players will be able to decide the outcome of the game. Much like the playing concept introduced in games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fable, and Mass Effect, players will define the path of both Spider-Man and the storyline. I assume most of this will stem from your actions and attitude while you wear the “black suit.” Yes, for those fans itching for some more play time in Spidey’s now classic symbiote costume, they will be granted their wildest dreams. In fact, it was revealed recently that players will be able to switch at will between the black costume and the red and blue duds.
In addition to the costume swapping, abilities will also vary. While wearing the red and blues, you will be have a webbing-based combat system as well as traditional forms of combat for the wall crawler. When you don the black suit, you will be stronger, and the costume will seemingly attack as well. The differences between previous titles and the upcoming Web of Shadows won’t stop there. If you have played any of the movie-related entries, then you already know that the web swinging and combat have somewhat felt disconnected, much like Tobey Maguire’s performance. Web of Shadows looks to diminish this cliché and give fans a fighting system they would expect. For example, players will be able to toss enemies in the air, then “chase” them with a web zip, and repeatedly harry their foes with a barrage of blows. Spider-Man has always been a “do whatever it takes” kind of hero when fighting in the comics, and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows will give fans the ability to live that side of Spidey’s abilities like never before.
Speaking of the fans, Web of Shadows is changing the way fan input is perceived. On the main site for the game, fans have been able to vote for several different things pertaining to the game; currently, fans are voting on the box art. One concept has Spider-Man holding New York in his hands, showing how the decisions players will make ultimately decide the city’s fate. The other option shows both Wolverine and Venom sharing the cover with the wall crawler. Previously, fans voted on the models to portray the leading ladies in the game, Black Cat and Mary Jane Watson, as well as voice casting for certain roles. I’m not entirely sure how this will eventually shape the game, but at least it feels like fan input is extremely important.
Currently, there’s not a whole lot that can be said pertaining to the graphics of the game. Judging from the debut trailer, the cinematics definitely look sharp, reminiscent of Ultimate Alliance. However, the in-game graphics that were revealed via the combat system look a little cartoonish at times, but the cityscape does look impressive. Hopefully, by the time the game is released, the cartoonish characters will either be consistent or a few tweaks will be made to give us a sharp and realistic approach to this adventure of our favorite web-slinger.
Spider-Man has been my favorite comic book hero for a long time. It is always painful to see something you are so invested in become a feature length film and then a video game. Mainly due to the poor translation of the source material, it becomes even scarier when the storyline is an original story arch. Fortunately, Treyarch and Activision have a proven track record for delivering some solid experiences for the world of Spider-Man. Let’s just hope the continued fan input and the attempts of incorporating a fighting system to resemble what fans have come to expect will do Spidey justice.