Spidey canâ€™t catch a break lately. The third movie was laughable in many places, and the last couple of games just went downhill fast. Of course, Iâ€™m sure all of these enterprises made bucket loads of money for those involved, so who am I to judge.
And now we have Activisionâ€™s latest attempt, Web of Shadows. Eschewing the movie world for the comic books, weâ€™re presented with an intriguing premise and some novel gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, there are an equal number of design flaws and other annoyances mixed in as well, making this yet another Spiderman title that isnâ€™t what it could (or should) be.
Things start off well. New York City is being overrun by symbiotes (from that alien entity thing thatâ€™s pals with Venom â€“ can you tell Iâ€™m not a huge Spidey fan?), and it all looks pretty dire. Amidst this chaos, youâ€™ll go through a tutorial that quickly gets repetitive â€“ but more on that later. Once this segment is finished, the rest of the game plays through the few days leading up to the attack. During the course of the plot, youâ€™ll encounter Spiderman-related heroes and villains, as well as cameos from the likes of Wolverine. Comic book fans may appreciate some of the lesser-known baddies getting their moment in the sun, but for most people, youâ€™ll never have heard of many of them.
What Web of Shadows does well is the basic feeling of roaming the city. Spideyâ€™s web-slinging antics are well recreated here, and youâ€™ll initially get quite a buzz from simply swinging around the place. Combat is simple yet effective, for the most part â€“ you can use Spideyâ€™s many web-related abilities to pull yourself towards the baddies and kick their butts. It all looks good, but unfortunately gets fairly repetitive after a while.
This is indicative of the game as a whole. Itâ€™s always a shame when developers pad out what should be a tight, short game with too much content. In this case, the game could probably have been half the length â€“ I might have complained about a lack of value in that case, but at least I wouldnâ€™t have had to sit through as many identical fights.
The plot is all over the place as well. Itâ€™s a veritable smorgasbord of Spiderman tropes, but in a derivative, incoherent way. By the end, I was too numbed by the repetitiveness to care much about what happened to New York City. Having said that, there are multiple endings, and you have the chance to respond to events either heroically or evilly. Itâ€™s fun to take Spidey well away from what heâ€™d actually say, but the implementation of all this is a bit patchy, making it feel half baked at times. And again, the plot doesnâ€™t do you any favours here either.
Graphically, this game is a mixed bag. Some aspects look really pretty â€“ Spideyâ€™s animations, particularly when leaping around the place, are awesome. However, the cityscape feels really sterile at times, and there are several glitches in there â€“ such as frame rate drops and tearing â€“ that bring things down.
Overall, this one is worth a rent â€“ itâ€™s fun to swing around for a while, and you can always return it to the video store once you get bored. Itâ€™s hard to recommend it at full price though, unless youâ€™re a hardcore Spiderman fan, or just want to have a fight with Wolverine. There are certainly some good features in Web of Shadows, but theyâ€™re wrapped up in a pile of poor implementation.