Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
Xbox 360 (Multiplatform)
October 21, 2008
I bought Spider-Man: Web of Shadows as a Christmas gift for my brother in 2009. He had just recently bought an Xbox and was looking for games to play, so I thought Iíd hook him up with a game Iíd heard good things about. I also figured that once he was done playing it, I could borrow it myself. Fast forward over two years later, and one night I notice the game still in its plastic wrapping as I helped him move into a new apartment. I thought to myself, as a lifelong Spidey fan, that this is unacceptable.
As I continue to get excited about the new Spider-Man game launching at the end of June, I figured that Web of Shadows would be a good way to warm up. So, I took the game from him and went home that night and started playing it myself.
Web of Shadows is all about Spider-Manís struggle between his normal self and his symbiote suit. The game kicks off with Manhattan in the middle of chaos, symbiote aliens running amok and doing battle with SHIELD agents in the streets and on skyscrapers throughout the city. The events of the game then flashback, showing how things escalated to the point of seeing NYC in ruins.
Fan-favorite villain Venom is the main antagonist in the game, as itís clear at the outset that he has something to do with the appearance of the symbiote aliens. Itís up to Spidey to save Manhattan, as always, but not by himself. Marvel characters such as Wolverine, Luke Cage, Black Cat and Moon Knight make appearances to help and/or hinder his progress, depending on the choices made.
Web of Shadows shows its age here in 2012, almost four years after its release. Itís not an ugly game by any stretch, but itís just really not pretty either. The whole game has a cartoony feel rather than a realistic one, sticking to Spideyís comic book roots. Character models are pretty awkward, and some of the design choices are just plain weird. Wolverine seems to be wearing a tight yellow t-shirt for some reason, and as a longtime fan, Venomís design really bothered me a lot. Thereís nothing great or terrible about how Web of Shadows looks, itís just Ďmeh.í
The music in the game denotes the situation Spidey finds himself in -- if youíre between story missions and just web-swinging, itís lax. If youíre in the middle of a heated boss battle or a large group of enemies, itís fast-paced and loud. Pretty normal stuff, nothing jumped out at me.
What did jump out at me, however, was the voice actor who played Spider-Man. He sounds NOTHING like any Spidey Iíve ever heard, and there have been many different incarnations. Mike Vaughn is his name, and heís a relatively unknown commodity. Tricia Helfer offers a good performance as Black Cat, and Steve Blum is there, as always, as Wolverine, but most of the sound in the game left me feeling flat.
Spidey: WoS is a purely open-world game set in Manhattan. As Spidey swings through the streets, icons will pop up on his radar alerting him of crimes in progress, damsels in distress, police shootouts and more. Intervening in these skirmishes act as the optional open-world missions of the game, rewarding you with XP to level up skills and abilities.
The gameís biggest strength is definitely the web-swinging. Treyarch nailed it in this one. Holding down RT will launch Spidey into full-on web-swinging mode as he is famous for, followed by letting go to free yourself from that specific web, only to hold down RT to repeat the process. Tapping RT makes Spidey web-zip from one point to another, which is a preferred method of transportation in close quarters.
Sometimes I found myself wanting to clear my head and blow off steam, popping in Web of Shadows and simply swinging through the streets majestically and gracefully. Web of Shadows captures the feeling of being Spider-Man, swinging through the skies of Manhattan. When I visit the city and look up at all the skyscrapers and tall buildings, itís impossible to not imagine myself shooting a web out of my wrist and taking flight. I have no problem admitting that. Web of Shadows, for the time being, is the closest Iíll get to that feeling.
With a click of the left stick, Spidey switches between his red suit and his black symbiote suit. With the different appearance comes two very different combat styles. Red suit Spidey is quicker and uses his webshooters more, whereas black suit Spidey is all about power and using his symbiote tentacles to beat down enemies. Different combat situations call for different suits, but the duality doesnít end there.
Choices you make in the game give points to red and black, red being good and black being Ďevil.í These choices help determine cutscenes, the fates of certain enemies and eventually, deciding which of the four different endings you will receive.
Combat has three different phases -- on the ground, while climbing walls and in the air. Ground combat is simple, with combos consisting of repeatedly pressing the X button over and over again. Wall combat is the same, except youíre perpendicular to the ground and fighting other wall-crawling symbiotes while vertical.
Air combat is special, though. By tapping Y, you web-zip to the nearest enemy and can do one of three attacks. Half of the fun of the combat in Web of Shadows is juggling helpless symbiote aliens or thugs, and pummeling them mid-air until they fall to their doom. There are a number of different flying enemies(some that use gliders, some that have wings), so air combat is a necessity. Even still, I found myself uppercutting enemies into the air to kick off a lengthy air combo. Itís a lot of fun.
Web of Shadows is a pretty long game if you take your time, sprinkling in optional side-missions with main story missions. My playthrough took me around 20 hours. The game might warrant an extra playthrough to make the opposite choices that you did in an original run, be it red or black. There are a lot of side missions and a lot of collectible glowing spiders throughout Manhattan, so some replay value can be found there, but Web of Shadows is most likely a one-and-done game.
In the rocky history that is Spider-Man video games, I think that Web of Shadows should be remembered as one of the better ones. Itís not as good as Spider-Man 2 but I think itís better than most that have released. I hope that the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man game can replicate the great web-swinging that Web of Shadows had, but thatís about it. Iíd like to see more and better. Overall, though, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is worth your time.