I remember playing the very first Spiderman demo on PSOne and loving the hell out of it. For the first time, players actually felt like they were Spiderman thanks to a 3D environment and the ability to web sling from building to building. But after playing sequel after sequel, the coolness of web slinging has worn off and players are looking for something new and exciting about Spiderman to keep them entertained. Spiderman games have gotten progressively worst and Web of Shadows is no exception and presents itself as one big missed opportunity… but at least it is not a kick to the balls that Friend or Foe was.
Rather than being related directly to a movie, Web of Shadows is its own unique idea. During a battle with Venom, part of the symbiote that controls him latches onto Spiderman, giving him the ability to wear either the red or black suit at will. But Vemon’s black ooze soon starts to infect citizens of New York and eventually turns the whole city into a black chaos.
Unlike any other Spiderman game before it, there are several endings depending which path the player takes during the meat of the game. If chose to down the black suit path, characters like MJ will notice and the plot line will slightly change from scene to scene. Each suit also has a unique set of moves, forcing the player to make some interesting gameplay decisions. For example, when wearing the black suit, Spiderman has the ability to pick up and throw cars at enemies, giving Spidey and easy way to drop his foes. But since the red suited Spidey cannot chuck vehicles, he will either have to defeat baddies with his fists or rain web balls from afar.
One of the game’s biggest problems is activating the spider-sense. Supposedly by tapping the L2 button, Spiderman’s 6th sense should allow him to see who is friend and who is foe. However, this feature seems to only activate when it wants too. More often than not, hitting this button does not do anything. In my experience, it seems to only activate when swinging through the air. And when the spider-sense does activate, the camera automatically pans into the direction where the alleged problem is occurring. This almost forces players to go after the nearest problem because there is no way to see where the player wants to go. To make matters worse, the camera will also randomly let go of the lock-on, causing nothing but confusion and frustration. The entire game takes place outdoors. While it is a bummer not to sneak into buildings, this probably would not have been entertaining because the camera system would not have been able to maintain indoor combat.
Web of Shadows grabbed my attention when I first watched a developer’s video about making the game. There goal from the beginning was to create a game that has the best combat system to date. It is true that combat can now be taken from the ground, then to the air, and can even be finished while running on the side of a building. While this sounds and looks cool, combat is really nothing more than button mashing. For just about every fight I encountered, I defeated all my enemies by using the standard square, square, square combo.
Building even more redundancy, just about every mission in the game has the player doing the same thing over and over. During the game’s first opening stages, Luke Cage will teach Spidey a combat move in a tutorial fashion. After several of these tutorial objectives are complete, Luke gives Spidey a mission of using the move he just learned out in real combat. Once this has been completed, Spidey must go back to Luke and do the same thing all over again with a new move. Once the game progresses, this same exact process with happen with Moon Knight, Black Cat, and even Wolverine.
The player has the ability to travel around the city at will like a Grand Theft Auto title. At random, Spidey will face bad guys starting gang wars in the streets in the middle of the day, drop a civilian off at the hospital, or collect all the game’s million spider icons (stupid busy work) that are hidden throughout the entire city, just like collecting orbs in Crackdown. Doing the same tasks over and over, while using the same simple three hit combo is extremely repetitive. At times, the game tries to spice things up by offering different mission objects but they often wind up also being redundant. One that sticks out in my mind is during one of the earlier stages when the Kingpin sends some snipers to instigate a gang wars between two gang leaders. Here, the player must take out over 50 snipers by using the same triangle button zip-attack from one sniper to another. It lost its coolness after I killed the fourth bad guy in a row.
“This game saves automatically at certain points. Do not switch off the power when the HDD Access indicator is flashing.” This is one disclaimer that every PS3 owner has read countless times. About five minutes into my game, this message popped up and my HDD indicator light lit up and flashed like a Christmas tree. But after about three minutes, I knew something was wrong. In total, I must have waited about 10 minutes for this screen to go away before I was forced to cut the power. This terrible bug jacked up my save file, and I was forced to delete it from the dashboard and start over. Thankful I was only a few minutes in. Yes, quite buggy indeed.
Although technically not a bug, the game’s graphics do experience hiccups from time to time. When standing on a tall building and looking into the distance, it is easily seen that is game has impressive draw distance. However, it is kind of disturbing to watch people and vehicles on the street to randomly fade away into nothing. I understand that there are restrictions, but having random people and cars magically disappear really takes away from the sense of being Spiderman. While this is somewhat of an excusable flaw, nothing is worse than the one big giant invisible wall that is the New York Bridge.
The graphics have there problems but the audio department is even worse. Hands down, Peter Parker’s voice is absolutely horrendous and is a contender for worst voice acting ever. It is like he never went through puberty and inhaled the helium from a huge balloon. Because Spidey is obviously the main character in the game, he has the most speaking parts causing players to listen to his whiney bitch-ass voice throughout the whole game. Shame on whoever hired this alleged “voice actor” for this game.
Finally, there are some major problems with the overall story line. Pretty much everything that makes Spiderman who he is, is not in this game. For example, Spidey calls out for MJ in broad day light. MJ then proceeds to give “Peter” a present right in from of NY civilians. Every symbiote that Spidey defeats by punching them to death or knocking them off a build is a member of the general public of New York. By doing all these things, it is apparent that Spiderman (not Peter Parker) does not care about hiding his identity and does not care that he is actually killing citizens of his home city. And why is the Tinkerer the only person able to make a device to repel the evil symbiotes? Isn’t Peter Parker a science whiz? And is Spidey and MJ married, or just dating? Does he work for Bungle? Where is Aunt May? This game actually asks way more questions than produce answers.
In all honestly, Spiderman Web of Shadows entirely misses the mark. I can see the effort in creating the new combat system, but it is nothing more than button mashing. The story is filled with holes, the graphics and voice acting has more than a fair share of problems, and the game is filled with bugs (including one that will mess up your save file). There are some entertainment moments, like when encountering Wolverine, but there are so many other missed opportunities. My spider-sense says this game is best suited for a weekend rental.