Spider-man: Web of Shadows

The latest Spider-man title swings (geddit?) onto the 360 in the dual-suited form of Spider-man: Web of Shadows. Yes, folks, it’s a Spidey game not based on a movie… but is it any good?

The first thing that strikes you about the game is that you’re a bit confused. You start off on a New York roof top with a lot of bad stuff happening. Things are exploded. Symbiote creatures are everywhere and it’s all a bit bleak. Even the musical score accompanying the opening section gives you the general feeling that all is not well. Following a few minor scuffles, and some intriguing voiceover soundbites, you discover that this is the culmination of something that happened a short time ago.

And then you find yourself at the beginning of the story. The city is not over-run by symbiotes and you’re being taught how to fight by Luke Cage. It’s all very mysterious and this start-at-the-end-then-go-to-the-beginning hook does make you want to find out how the city got like that in the first place. Whether you’ll stick with it is down to how resilient you are to some of the more repetitive elements of the gameplay.

It’s your usual Spider experience in-terms of how you play the game – you swing, you fight, you swing off somewhere else – completing story missions and side missions. Each fight you win nets you experience, each mission you complete gets you even more. You can then spend your experience to upgrade your suits. Oh yes, I said suits. Right from the outset you can slip between red and black Spider at your leisure. The red suit is more agile and people friendly – walk around at street level and people will cheer and clap you – whereas the black suit allows you to do more powerful attacks but expect screaming people to run away from you if you go for a stroll.

The suits also affect the way your supporting cast with interact with you. Once you’ve come across another Marvel-ite and done whatever story arc you need to do to befriend them you can call on their assistance at any time. Any time, that is, that you meet their expectations. Luke Cage wants you to be all goody two-shoes before he’ll come and bash some heads, whereas Black Cat wants you to a be a little darker. Wolverine, bless him, tells you in no uncertain terms that if the black suit takes you over he will rip it out of you himself which gives you an idea of how he wants you play the game! This is an interesting twist, sort of a Fable-lite route of actions and consequences. At one point you get to choose whether to suck face with Black Cat or be a dutiful boy and head home to MJ – how you respond to that affects your standing with your in-game buddies.

The game is not without problems though. It’s very repetitive in places – the street crime sub-missions become a little boring. Fight the bad guys/trash the bad guy’s car, maybe save a civilian, swing on to the next one. Fair enough, if you want to upgrade your suit this is the easiest way to get the experience but a little bit of variation on the crimes wouldn’t go amiss – although the games does have a very user-friendly combat system and you’ll be showing off your web skillz in no time at all. One thing I have to say is that it’s a bit buggy – at one point in the early stages of the game I was in the road rather than on it, and during my rooftop chase with Black Cat she spent a good five minutes running into a wall before a few well placed punches from your friendly neighbourhood super-hero got her on the right path again.

That’s not to say the game is all bad. It’s actually quite funny in places. Spidey’s interactions with the other characters are just the right side of sarcastic in places, and the occasional quips he’ll come out with during a battle can raise a chuckle – making references to both the comics and the movies.

My one major gripe is to do with the way the Symbiote invasion is covered. You know it’s coming, because it’s plastered all over the back of the game box, and you’ve seen the future at the start of the game but it’s a long wait before it does show up. But when it does it’s worth the wait…







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