Game: "Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows"
System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Activision

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 3/17/2009

Review: Games based on comic book characters are normally only slightly better than games based on movies. For a while, Marvel Ultimate Alliance was one of the better examples of the former (though it was still a fairly mediocre game), but Web of Shadows seems to have raised the bar, if only slightly.

During a fight with Venom, a portion of the villainís symbiote jumps off of him and bonds with Spider-Man, once again granting him the black suit that caused him so much trouble back in the day. Why does this happen? No one knows. Why does Spider-Man think that this time, things will be different, and the symbiote surely wonít turn him into an evil douche? Again, no one knows. Why does all this lead to a huge symbiote invasion in New York? Eh.

Not surprisingly, the suit does lead to Spidey making some tough decisions in the course of his superheroing. In the game, you have an alignment that shifts from red to black, and vice versa, based on things you do, mainly which suit you use during combat, but also whether or not you choose to rescue hapless civilians who get caught in the crossfire. Youíll also be presented with a handful of decisions to make at certain points in the game, based off the good/evil struggle between the two suits. The difference between most of the two choices is negligible (i.e., capture the Vulture and leave him for the authorities vs. capture the Vulture, leave him for the authorities, and tell him he owes you one), and thereís no great consequence from being good or evil apart from a different ending.

What being good or evil will get you during the game is a different selection of allies. Beating up enemies fills up a special meter that can be used for either powerful attacks, or summoning a super hero/villain to aid you. Players choosing to play a goody two-shoes Spider-Man can get help from Luke Cage, Moon Knight, or Wolverine, while those preferring the dark suit Spider-Man can call on Black Cat, Vulture, Rhino, and Electro, once youíve met up with the aforementioned character in the storyline. It is neat being able to call the various superbeings to your aid, but their usefulness is questionable, particularly when you start gaining the more powerful combat abilities.

And combat is where the game really shines. Spider-Manís regular suit lets him perform a lot of quick, lightly damaging attacks, along with the ability to incapacitate enemies with web shots. Conversely, the black suit allows players to brutalize enemies with stronger, slower attacks, and instead of webbing, Spider-Man whips out tendrils to reel in smaller enemies, or reel himself into larger ones. New moves can be purchased with experience gained from defeating enemies and completing missions, but upgrades only become available by advancing the storyline.

Controlling Spider-Man is easier than itís ever been. Complex web slinging maneuvers, which can be executed by either tapping or holding a button, are easy to link together both in and out of combat. The game also adds a ďweb strikeĒ ability, which lets Spider-Man grab an enemy with a line of webbing, reel himself in, and give them a nasty kick. The combination of the web strike and the improved web slinging controls makes for some very intense aerial battles, provided you can keep the camera looking where you want it to.

Combat is a lot of fun, even the unusual wall combat youíll engage in on a few occasions. Unfortunately, itís pretty much all there is to the game. A few missions have you chasing after people and rescuing civilians, but most of the time, youíll simply have to duke it out with a certain number of enemies. In the story missions, it isnít all that bad, but the side missions consist of tracking down and killing a number of enemies of a certain type (gang members, symbiotes, etc). The game tries to help you out by showing different icons for different gang activities, but tracking down the right type of enemy is still a chore. Even if you like the combat in the game, youíll still be worn down by the endless tedium of finding the right kind of enemies the right number of times to meet your quota, and then do it again to meet the next quota.

My other complaint is that the voice acting is pretty weak. While the story itself is not particularly well done, itís still a story about people trying to survive a city-wide catastrophe. The majority of the actors fail to capture even a hint of the sort of desperation you would expect, particularly the actor who voices Spider-Man. The writers decided that Spider-Man should sound really whiny in the game, and his VA decided to play to that angle.

Forgettable story aside, Web of Shadows is still a fun game. A great game? No, but still one of the better games featuring Spider-Man. Itís also one of the better games to feature any of the various super heroes and villains. Perhaps we could see more games like this in the future, Marvel?

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Mar 17th, 2009, 04:13 PM
I heard that the whole "invasion" thing doesn't really happen until about the end of the game. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't it have been more liked Venom to either drag out a gradual invasion starting from the sewers, or to attempt to do it all at once and lose ground due to not having thought any of it throigh
Funky Dynamite
Mar 17th, 2009, 04:52 PM
The invasion gets into full swing about halfway through the game, but the game begins with one of those "this is the present, and here's how we got to this point" sort of openings.

As for Venom, it really isn't a well-written story. Everything just sort of happens, and while the characters briefly wonder why, they quickly move onto thinking of how to deal with the situation.
Vigilante All-Star
Mar 17th, 2009, 04:53 PM
Play the DS version as well...it's pretty much "Spider-Man in a post Symphony of the Night Castlevania" game. Combat is still fun and he controls well...plus, it might add to the story a bit (although, I don't know FOR SURE, as I haven't played the proper console version...)
Mar 17th, 2009, 07:33 PM
I wonder if there will ever be a videogame featuring Venom exclusively, he kicks ass harder than Spidey in my humble opinion.
Funky Dynamite
Mar 17th, 2009, 09:42 PM
Normally I'd agree, but in this game, black suit Spider-Man kicks the shit out of Venom. Really makes him look like a slow, lumbering nitwit by comparison.
Last of the Time Lords
Mar 18th, 2009, 12:55 AM
What I want, more than anything, is a Deadpool game.

Ever read the last issue of Cable & Deadpool? New York is invaded by Symbiote Infected Dinosaurs from the Savage Land.

Symbiote + T-Rex + Deadpool = more awesome than any game can handle.
Mar 18th, 2009, 03:31 AM
I used to love Spider-Man games, but it just doesn't seem like they do anything new anymore.

Deadpool is too awesome for his own videogame.
Space Cowboy
Mar 18th, 2009, 11:16 AM
I think the best moment this game had was a symbiote-infected Wolverine boss battle. He eventually purges the symbiote from his body. Manually. With his claws.
Funky Dynamite
Mar 18th, 2009, 05:54 PM
Originally Posted by Ozzie View Post
I think the best moment this game had was a symbiote-infected Wolverine boss battle. He eventually purges the symbiote from his body. Manually. With his claws.
That's what I thought until I saw the evil choice from that battle.

Vigilante All-Star
Mar 25th, 2009, 03:34 AM
There actually WAS a moment in actual 616 continuity where Wolverine actually wore the Venom Symbiote. It lasted for a couple panels, and he purged it by getting hit with a Missle.