Xbox 360 Review: Spider-Man – Web of Shadows

My Spider-senses are telling me this game is going to suck, what do you know…I was right

A deadly symbiote invasion brings total devastation to the streets of New York City in the next Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, where players have ultimate control over the city’s salvation and Spider-Man’s destiny. Set in an apocalyptic New York City, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows gives players an unprecedented level of gameplay choices, including, for the first time, control over the game’s direction and outcome. The all new combat system allows for truly three dimensional battles that start in the streets, continue up sides of buildings and finish on rooftops. Gamers can instantly switch between the agile red suit and formidable black suit, choose to ally with Marvel’s honored heroes or ferocious villains, pick which of Spider-Man’s abilities to upgrade, and decide which missions to undertake in order to protect Manhattan from certain destruction.

Spider-Man 2 was the best game to be based on a film and that formula had so much potential to be great. I personally loved Spidey 2 and although Spidey 3 was pretty identical, it did have a few problems with its camera and repetitive gameplay. Friend of Foe was an average game but I did enjoy it slightly, even if it could have been an arcade game instead of a full blown game. Web of Shadows includes the primary gameplay from Spidey 2 and 3 but makes too many mistakes to be considered a must-have title.

The game doesn’t follow a film story, so they include an original storyline and while it’s a good idea, its implemented poorly. It’s all very predictable and while you can choose good and bad paths for you to take, its nothing that hasn’t been done in a lot of games much better such as Fable II and Fallout 3. The voice-acting is perhaps the worst ever in a Spiderman game, Spiderman himself sounds like a whiney teenager and the other voice-work isn’t much to write home about either.

Mission structure is fairly basic as it always has been. Go to this point on the map, kill this number of enemies, protect this person, disable bombs… you get the idea. Instead of focusing on improving these repetitive and similar missions, the team have focused more on improving the combat so you can now fight in the air and as you crawl up walls as well as the usual street fighting. There are a ton of combos to learn, but you should be fine with just button-bashing X and Y.

The dark suit Spidey can pick up cars and throw them. So, during a mission where there are 2 robots firing rockets at you, you somehow have to find the time and space to pick up a car and throw it at them, the trouble is that a rocket will hit you and make you drop the car, which explodes afterwards. You can’t really evade a rocket when you’re carrying around a car, so it’s a really dumb design choice. I screamed at the TV for ages because of it, even making me turn my console off on one occasion. Why make it that frustrating? The camera is more erratic than ever, in some cases a simple tap of the analog stick can turn the camera facing the sky as you try and walk across a roof looking for a collectable. That’s another thing; there are hundreds of spider collectables to get. Since when did Spiderman turn into a sequel to Crackdown? Oh I don’t mind the odd collectable, but there are so many that it would put a Rare platformer to shame.

Combat is probably the most satisfying part to Web of Shadows, but because the game becomes too focused on it, it becomes repetitive quickly. I also am sick of protecting dumb AI from dying in escort missions, sure it’s a challenge but for all the wrong reasons. After the past few Spiderman games, I had high hopes that Web of Shadows would be a return to form, but sadly I was mistaken. Another problem is that when you scan for enemies using spider sense, the camera locks onto them…even if they are miles away, so the camera is stuck and you’re forced to work around it. It’s an absolute nightmare and one that is frustrating as hell. Switching between the red and the black suit is a simple click of the left analog stick, and each suit has their own skills to upgrade through experience earned in fights and missions. There are quite a lot of them, so it’ll take a while to master them all. Although, if you have enough patience for that is another thing altogether.

The game’s visuals aren’t that great, in fact they are quite disappointing to look at. Character models look dated and the game doesn’t really feel as next-gen as it could have been. It still seems stuck in the old PS2 days instead of being more focused on the console’s potential. There are a few bugs and glitches around also…sure, it’s not as bad as the ones in Iron Man or Incredible Hulk, but it’s not something to be celebrated either.

The Verdict

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows had the potential to be the best Spider-Man game to date. Unfortunately it does everything wrong, the story is weak, the game has the same old gameplay from Spider-Man 2 but its far worse with an annoying camera and control scheme. Combat is fun, but it becomes dull quickly. Voice-acting is dreadful and the graphics are below average. The team need to go back to the drawing board and make a new game from the ground up, one that plays different and one thats actually fun to play, because this isn’t.