Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Thanks primarily to the additional power developers have had to play around with, since Spider-Man 2 came along; games of our favourite web crawler have been a marked improvement over earlier offerings. The open-world setting and the reworked swing mechanics have made good old Spidey an utter joy to take charge of. Perhaps, because of their over devotion to these facets, other important aspects have been left feeling a little half baked.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is Activision’s latest game of Marvel’s legendary superhero. It has the luxury of no movie constraints, so there was obviously free reign there to dream up their own storyline. The result is an often exciting story, involving Venom, Spidey’s black suit and an infestation of symbiotes, along with all the cringe worthy wit that has come to be expected from Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows returns to the sizable New York environment that was dropped from Friend or Foe. Swinging around the city is even more of a joyous experience than it was previously, all thanks to Spidey’s smoother and more dynamic (apt word for a superhero, eh?) animation. It may be more enjoyable to do than it’s ever been, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better in every way. For some inconceivable reason, Spidey’s web no longer needs to be attached to buildings or other objects, but can magically connect to clouds (perhaps god is offering him a helping hand) which brings to mind Spider-Man games of yesteryear, just not quite that bad, but still very much a step back.

The combat system on the other hand has seen immense improvements. It not only looks smoother and more heavy hitting, but its underlying mechanics are in much better working order. Most moves are accessed through simple button combinations, whilst, there’s very much an emphasis on aerial combat, Spidey having the ability to swiftly jump from enemy to enemy by unleashing his iconic web, which allows that combo count to often rise well over 100. It’s not the most mentally stimulating combat system and in terms of depth, it’s a shallow puddle in comparison to Ninja Gaiden’s vast sea, but it’s certainly huge amounts of dumb fun.

As I mentioned earlier on in this web of words, Spidey’s black symbiote suit plays an important role in the story, it can also be freely accessed, whilst actually playing the thing, which opens up further combat options and an extra world of pain for your enemies (if not in damage, certainly in appearance). Suit alignment also effects certain aspects of your experience and occasionally you’ll get choices within the story, which will not only have minor ramifications on the storyline and the ending you’ll ultimately come to receive, but will also determine your choice of allies.

In regard to allies, the game, considering it’s a Spider-Man title, has a generous amount of Marvel personalities, many of which can be called upon to help you out. Unless you’re really desperate to fight alongside Wolverine and company though, the game is so easy that it’s a largely pointless feature that most will likely soon forget about, and with it being Spider-Man and all, these characters unfortunately aren’t playable.

Structurally, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, has you taking on missions from a host of characters from the Marvel universe, which have you saving people, beating down bad guys, or both, and just generally making you feel heroic, there‘s also some epic boss battles in there, which unfortunately largely offer little in the way of challenge, but still rarely ever fail to entertain. There are also a ton of side missions, but these require you to do the same set of tasks again and again, which makes them feel nothing more than padding to extend the longevity of this otherwise short game.

Visually, it’s nothing more than adequate. Spidey’s model looks great, but the city is a bit bland and the camera has behavioural issues, furthermore once the city becomes much busier later on in the game, the framerate starts to take an almighty dip, sometimes almost to the point that it appears as if a Spidey slideshow is running.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a rough around the edges game that lacks general polish, and has, in regard to the light and dark side choices, got much in the way of unfulfilled potential. The combat is enjoyable and a step forward and the swinging is fun, but, at the same time, it’s a shocking downgrade. There’s still plenty to like, but when the camera and framerate start to fumble and repetition begins to set in, that like very nearly turns to hate.