Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Review
|Release Date:||October 24th, 2008 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
While I freely admit that I grew up a bit of a geek, I was never a big fan of comic books. While movies such as X men or the Spiderman trilogy did garner my interest, I was never one to really lose myself in the mythology of Marvel and DC's worlds.
This, however, allows me to remain completely impartial when reviewing Web of Shadows, as the seemingly never-ending stream of Marvel characters crammed into the game mean practically nothing to me.
Starting out as the web-slinger, the game opens with a nicely implemented and surprisingly well-designed scene as Spiderman walks through a melee of action: S.H.I.E.L.D dropships are crashing all around him, strange symbiotes are all over the place, and Spiderman walks along with his head low as if it is all his fault- which, in fact, it is. Sounds interesting doesn't it?
The problems start however as soon as Spiderman opens his mouth: he's even more of a whining nerd than he was in the movies, and his constantly moaning rhetoric nearly drove me mad. Of course, the fact that the scene you start in is a vision of what is to come, and isn't explained until quite a long way into the game is also a problem.
However, the supporting cast are voiced pretty well, with Luke Cage and Wolverine sounding particularly gruff, even if the dialogue is dire.
So, once you are back in the present, Spiderman is set loose to do what he does best: fight crime. However, rather than following the one-man-versus-all-evil formula of the previous games, Web of Shadows takes a very different approach- allowing you to choose your path through the (fairly interesting) storyline, and side with whatever NPC heroes you choose. The sheer number of supporting cast members is huge, ranging from Black Cat and Luke Cage to Iron man and Wolverine and even includes several familiar villains, and as the story continues you can choose to ally yourself with either faction and decide the fate of New York- the question is, how far are you willing to go to save it?
While this set up is certainly refreshing, the gameplay itself sadly lets down the storyline and moral-choice mechanic that is so carefully set up.
The story takes ages to really get going, and many of the missions offered by the various characters follow a similar formula- go here, stop this, or go here, steal that. And while that would be forgivable, the control scheme renders each fight incredibly difficult to enjoy, consisting mainly of combining the X, Y and B buttons in repetitive and dull combos. The ability to switch between Spiderman’s black suit and his red suit is a useful mechanic however as each suit offers its own set of moves and powerful attacks. The music even changes with the suit, from uplifting and exciting in the red, to morose and gothic in the black. Plus, the populous that inhabit New York react to you depending on which suit you wear, and swinging above a panicking crowd in the black suit is such an incentive to be bad that it’s hard to resist.
While the fighting system features an extensive upgrade grid, the fact that almost all enemies can be beaten with the first combo available leaves this a bit pointless, unless you have a mind that is capable of remembering complicated button combos.
Similarly, the main aspect of the game- web slinging, has been toned down slightly. While previous Spiderman games such as the excellent but repetitive Spiderman 2 allowed a certain amount of control over your web slinging, Web of Shadows reduces it to one button and leaves it feeling a little hollow. Also, climbing to the top of a tall building and falling off has lost its allure- especially as the superhuman man can survive most falls from a height with only a little damage.
Graphically, the game is solid, if a little uninspiring. Rather than going for any sort of realism, it ramps up the cartoon aspect of the action in a full colour palette that would be more suited to a cel-shaded game, which is an opportunity sadly missed.
I noticed a few bugs with the camera, especially when Spiderman goes from swinging to wall running, such as a spinning camera and a ‘inside-of-the-building’ camera viewpoint. However, the vertical camera that triggers when Spiderman is fighting on the side of a building is a nice touch.
Overall, Web of Shadows is sadly flawed. While it offers Marvel fans a fair amount of ‘geek factor’, shoddy voice acting and a badly implemented fighting dynamic can start to grate on even the most committed Spiderman fan.
My Spider Sense is tingling- this is one for rental.
- Loads and loads of characters from marvel comics
- Reasonable storyline and morality system
- Having both Spidey suits is pretty useful
Not so good stuff
- Spiderman’s voice actor
- Repetitive missions
- Largely pointless upgrade system
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