Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Reviewed by Arep | 28 January 2009
Genre: Action | Publisher: Activision | Developer: Shaba Studios
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • The controls are intuitive
  • Compelling storyline
The Bad
  • 10 hours to play through and I was taking my time

With few notable exceptions superhero games just plain suck. You get a game that’s got, for example, Super Awesome Man who has all these amazing powers but the game restricts you to the old run/jump/punch/kick mechanic. Or maybe the game tries to give Super Awesome Man his full compliment of powers but you end up fighting the same group of robots for the whole game until you get so bored you start chucking citizens into the river. I am very pleased to say that Spider-man: Web of Shadows is definitely not one of those games.

The game starts in the middle of the story with your friendly neighborhood Spider-man in the middle of a city-wide crisis, reflecting on how things went so wrong. You flash back a few days and you start learning the controls by assisting fellow superhero Luke Cage with some gang problems in Harlem. The first thing you’ll notice is just how intuitive the controls are. You really feel like you are controlling Spider-man without the developers placing any artificial constraints on his powers. Web slinging and swinging eventually becomes so natural that you barely have to think about it. That is saying a lot for a character who’s powers are so dependent on aerial acrobatics.

So, what can you do? You can swing from building to building, obviously. You’ve got a wide variety of melee and ranged attacks at your disposal but more on that later. You can land on moving vehicles. You can jump from enemy to enemy in mid-air then land on the side of a building to continue the fight from a whole new perspective. You can run up walls and root enemies with your webs. Pretty much anything that Spider-man should be able to do can be done in this game.

Without spoiling too much of the plot, the game involves Venom and Spidey’s black suit. While playing you can switch instantly between normal Spider-man and the black suited, Venom-touched Spider-man. The two suits give Spider-man entirely different powers. You earn experience points for defeating enemies, saving citizens, and quests. Experience points can be used to level up your skills in each suit. Skills include melee, ranged, fighting on walls, shooting webs and special moves.

You will also earn red and black points depending on how you conduct yourself in the game. For example, if you save citizens in trouble you will earn red points but if you leave them to their fates you will earn black. This has a direct effect on your alignment as do the choices you make when you are finishing off a boss. Boss battles ultimately end in a series of key sequences that you have to hit after you’ve done enough damage. When you successfully hit the correct sequence you are presented with a choice of a good ending or a bad ending. The game is VERY forgiving if you hit the wrong keys, letting you try it again as many times as you need to. This is where the replayability of the game is, giving you an incentive to run through it one more time to see the other endings. There are also thousands of hidden packages Spidey symbols to find which increase your total health in preset increments.

If you do enough damage you will eventually fill up your special moves meter. This can be used to unleash devastating attacks or to summon an ally to aid you. The allies available to you depend on your alignment and are made up of either defeated bosses or past contacts. For example, if you are a good character you will have Wolverine at your disposal but go the other way and you can fight along side Vulture. I actually went the entire game without summoning a single ally.

Ultimately I got about 10 hours out of the game on a single play through. I played in little bite-sized chunks so it seemed to last long enough. It helped that I got it as a gift as I might have felt a little cheated had I spent the money for it. Otherwise I had fun with it and would recommend it as a rental or a used purchase. At the very least you will be safe from any Tobey Maguire dance numbers in this one.

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