Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
It's been quite a bumpy road for Spider-Man games as they have degraded to bad movie licensed titles, with the only two games succeeding being Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Now, much later after the constant downhill road, Treyarch and Shaba Studios have presented their newest title in the Spider-Man series to try and revive the webslinger, but in order to find out if they've done this, you will have to read on.
- Worth The Time?Yes, to all Spidey fans.
- Things LovedThe combat is some of the best in the Spider-Man games and it can be a lot of fun, the explosive start to the game, Spider-Man's suit looks fantastic, changing between the Symbiote and red suit is an awesome mechanic, the Webstrike,
- Things HatedThe game suffers from graphical glitches and technical errors, the main story takes too long to develop after such a dramatic beginning, voice acting can be horrible at times, the side quests can get extremely repetitive and pointless which drag the game out for no reason, the tutorials make you feel thick, for a game featured around Venom he doesn't make many appearances.
- RecommendationDespite its flaws, this is a worthy entry in the Spider-Man franchise and a game that all fans should absolutely play, as it's one of the more exciting titles of late.
- Name: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Shaba Games, Treyarch
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R350 (PC), R550 (PS3, 360)
- Reviewed On: PS3
The game features an original story revolving around the ‘Symbiote’. At the heart of the conflict is Venom, who discovered a way to clone his Symbiote and infect others with it. In the opening fight with Spider-Man, after the prologue, he infects him by accident, allowing Spiderman to regain his black suit and the powers that come with it. The game starts off explosively, four days in the future, with Spider-Man walking on a rooftop with his head down, seemingly oblivious to the chaos around him of S.H.I.E.L.D soldiers battling Symbiote monsters, airships crashing, people dying and cries of help and war. It’s a great start, and while the story looks promising from that point onwards, the plot unfortunately only begins to expand and become interesting towards the end of the game. The focal point of the game’s story revolves around Spider-Man’s moral conflict of whether to use the black suit or not and whether or not he’s willing to do whatever it takes to save the city. The choices are given to the player at key points in the game and it’s really interesting to see how they play out and affect the outcome.
The only complaint I have is that Aunt May does not feature in the game once (not even spoken about, if she had it would have cured the issue) and neither does Jameson even though you travel to the Daily Bugle in the game. It doesn’t dampen the story, but it takes the usual out of our everyday Spider-Man. However on an the bright side, there is a surprisingly diverse cast of Marvel Characters and a lot of the heroes and villains you know and love (or hate) are featured in the game such as Wolverine, Black Cat, Vulture, Luke Cage, Moon Knight and many more.
If you’ve played any Spider-Man title, you would probably think you know what to expect here, but this is something completely different and surprisingly impressive. Controlling Spiderman is a lot easier and a lot more fluid. With a largely improved camera and slightly tweaked swinging system, playing as Spider-Man is exactly what you wanted it to be. Swinging around the city is great fun and never loses its appeal, however because of the tweaked swinging system a few of his show-off moves were lost.
The biggest change is that of the combat system which was hyped a lot during the game’s production. The goal for the combat system was to create one where you’re constantly moving i.e. one that is free-flowing and easy to learn while it can still reach out to experienced players. They managed to pull it off – mostly. In Web of Shadows players are given the choice of switching between either suit mid-combat to create your own combos and fighting style, and it works very well considering that each suit has its own unique moveset.
There are three ‘stages’ to the whole combat system, based around ground, wall and air combat. Each stage has its own combos and abilities (which differ depending on the suit you’re using) and the transition between them is pulled off excellently especially due to the newly added Webstrike attack. The Webstrike is the core ability in the game, and the one the developers are most proud of. Spiderman fires a web line at an enemy and pulls himself towards them allowing you to string together combos or pull off devastating blows. Swapping between ground, wall and air combat (and the suits) along with the Webstrike makes the combat extremely dynamic and action packed and it surely matches up to other great action games. It’s easy to learn, tons of fun and has enough depth for experienced players. There is quite a selection of moves and abilities to buy (and upgrade) and every one of them look awesome.
The problem here though is that the difficulty level of the game doesn’t compensate for advanced players like many of us. The game is fairly easy, you’ll never have trouble pulling off any moves and a lot of fights can be won with random button mashing. Unless you’re some obsessive compulsive gamer that think he’s the business,Â it can easily be overlooked because it’s a Spider-Man game and the combat has finally become something to be recognized. If you give it a chance you can lose time just indulging yourself in the combat. I can confidently say that Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a big step in the right direction of creating a system that is both true to Spider-Man and highly functional at the same time.
Moving on from the combat, the mission structure is similar to what you’ve had in past Spider-Man titles, where the missions revolve around beating down crime, saving civilians, protection or playing errand boy. However each are slightly different in Web of Shadows to add extra flavour, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re similar, drag on too often and get far too repetitive. The supposedly interesting twist to the game is that you have an ‘Alignment’ meter which shows whether you are currently good or bad. Performing heroic deeds, going down the path of righteousness and using the Red Suit will grant you Red Points. On the other hand being a jerk and thinking you’re the business (as well as using the Black Suit) will earn you Black Points. Your Alignment ultimately affects which heroes (or villains) will help you out in combat and how the plot adapts and changes. It’s all a very interesting idea in words and on paper, but your alignment meter never feels like a big part of the game and because your allies are far more incompetent than the police in this game, you will never feel the need (or want) to summon your allies to help you out in combat. The main focus here is ultimately the key choices you get to make throughout the game.
Graphically Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a mixed bag. The main character models, specifically Spidey, look excellent. The animations given off by Spider-Man are enjoyable to watch and true to his character and there is an awesome visual effect when changing to the black suit and back. However the city and environment, while quite large, look bland and buildings are repeated constantly, with the sky looking quite bad at night time. The game actually looks a lot nicer during the day time. Now you’re probably thinking, “It’s a Spider-Man game and we’re willing to forgive a lot when it comes to graphics,” and it’s alright to make this argument, but this doesn’t excuse technical issues. The game suffers from various issues such as crash bugs (although these are rare) minor framerate issues and a few hit detection issues that can become problematic when throwing cars (yes you get to throw cars with the black suit – with people in it). Luckily though, they hardly ever get in the way of gameplay, so to speak, but it would be difficult not to notice them as they are fairly common. All being said: Web of Shadows manages to be quite a nice graphical upgrade from its predecessors but still is a far cry from today’s standards regarding open world/sandbox gaming.
Spider-Man Web of Shadows is a shocking reminder that Super Hero games do not have to be movie licensed, crap or for children. It is a good game in its own right and it can now finally stand on its own two feet. There a lot of things in this game that brings it down, but also a lot in it that make it a good Spider-Man game. All this game needed was some extra touches and refining, but it can be a lot of fun in its present state, which is one of the most important factors. There is no doubt in my mind that this is among the best Spider-Man titles you can find as well as a decent action game. Web of Shadows is a game to be acknowledged for reviving a dying franchise and it breathes life back into Superhero games, even though it could also have been much more. Still, that being said, what I’d give it is a recommendation; give it a shot as you might just be pleasantly surprised at what’s on offer, but don’t be shocked if you find this game sorely lacking in terms of today’s standards.