Spider-Man, Web of Shadows, has gotten more than a little bit of criticism in the higher review circles, such as IGN, and though I normally would be hesitant to disagree with such juggernauts in informing the public whether games suck, I feel inclined to toss in my two cents.
(Or, in American currency, 1.something-or-other cents.)
It’s true, Spider-Man, in many ways, seems to follow the same general formula that Spider-Man 2 and 3 used, inasmuch as you’re Spider-Man, you swing around, and you hit stuff until it stops trying to kill you.
Of course, following that logic, Halo has barely changed, since the general formula is that you’re the Master Chief, (sometimes the Arbiter,) you run around, and you shoot stuff until it stops trying to kill you.
Or Gears of War, wherein you’re Marcus Fenix, you leap around for cover, and you shoot/chainsaw/blow up stuff until it stops trying to kill you.
Naturally, the response to this accusation, (other than insults towards my lineage and hygiene,) would consist of many examples of how the First Person and Third Person shooter has evolved. They’d mention new weapons, techniques, better graphics, etc, etc, and to this I must agree; these games have evolved, in some ways, since their first creation. But, I extend, so has Web of Shadows.
For example, Spider-Man himself looks great; since it’s following the comics, the art style and graphics are a little more cartoonish, (not Ultimate Spider-Man cartoonish, but further along than Spider-Man 3,) the black symbiote suit follows the comic style, and it did my heart good to just flick the suit on and off, beaming at the simple, smooth animation, and glowering at the recollection of how you couldn’t perform the ol’ switcheroo for Spider-Man 3’s Xbox360.
All right, I’m easily impressed.
But there’s more!
While the battle style of the previous games typically involved you inevitably standing your ground and pressing the attack button until your enemy stopped moving, there are now some different options. Standing your ground is still more or less viable, and the combos for both the red suit and black suit look great, (Symbiote tentacles!) but unlike the previous games, fighting while in constant motion is still an option.
You can swing down into battle and throw a mighty kick as you cut between your enemies, the kick more than powerful enough to send an entire group of enemies flying. Or, with a press of a button, you can latch a web onto your opponent, hurl towards him, and then choose to either flip-kick off his head, toss him into the air, or ride him like a surfboard. Since this ability is essentially stackable, you can immediately use it again upon finishing the attack, effectively turning into the Red and Blue Pinball of Doom.
I’m not going to go too deep into the storyline, which is admittedly of a simple premise, but suffice to say, the city you’ve sworn to protect begins to get infested with symbiotes just around the time you get your black suit once more. It is your duty to protect the city from the menace and safe everyone.
Or not. Every so often, you get to make a morality choice, Good or Evil, and while I’m normally not a big fan of cut scenes, I did enjoy replaying the game to see how the other side lived. Do you choose to save Wolverine from his own symbiote infection via talking him through it, or do you just tear him in half and be done with it?
The enemies are relatively varied, inasmuch as they all cover some basic archetype. You have foes that are essentially thinner, quick Venoms, Carnage-style juggernauts with tendril attacks, Vulture-style flying foes, (flying in the air is pretty fun, along with battling along walls,) and of course the boss battles. Typically you’ll fight a boss twice, once while they are themselves, such as Electro, Wolverine, Vulture, etc, and once more when they’ve themselves been corrupted or enhanced by a symbiote. For some of these boss battles, especially against Symbiote Electro, the key is to keep moving. Your health regenerates ala Halo or Gears of War, but it only works if you’re not getting hit, which can be difficult if you don’t keep a few dozen feet between you and your enemies.
Overall, the game is worth being rented, bare minimum. Unfortunately, unlike the previous Spider-Man games, there’s no sandbox upon completion, which means that if you want to just wander around and solve crime, you should save a separate file at a point of your choice.
So, get out there, put on the trusty spandex, and just remember not to try any of what you see at home.