You’ll note that I haven’t exactly been blogging at my usual sterling pace the last while. Actually, this is partly on purpose as I’m trying to throttle back on the time spent behind a computer monitor on my off hours and partly because I’ve spent the last couple of week nights singing lullabies to Chantelle in order to get her to fall asleep on the couch after supper so that I might fire up the XBOX 360 and load Spider-man: Web of Shadows, a fairly simplistic beat-em up sandbox style game, but a game that I’m nevertheless thoroughly enjoying playing through at the moment!
The gameplay is very similar to what came out of Ultimate Spider-man, but this time they’ve dropped the cartoony cell-shading approach and went for a more textured look which actually works quite well considering the darker storyline which this particular tale involves.
You play as both regular Red Spider-man and the more powered up Black Symbiote Spider-man, interchanging between the two at will and the click of a button. Although both have the same base move sets, the two are sufficiently different enough in terms of abilities to make it worthwhile spending time in both versions of the suit.
Of course, Treyarch’s brilliant web swinging gameplay is back (and tweaked a bit) and it is an absolute blast to swing effortlessly through the vast cityscape that is presented to you, swiftly swinging around corners, jumping on to buildings, running along walls and in fact it is this absolute freedom of movement that makes playing Spider-man: Web of Shadows so compelling.
As for the actual game action bits, well here it falls into the pretty standard fare for the superhero game genre, with you basically stumbling across various types of randomly spawned crime spots that appear on your map, featuring a selection of generic goons to polish off. Although there is a fair variety of goons to tackle throughout the game, the unfortunate generic nature of their costume sometimes makes it a drag at times – seriously, anyone thought of using a random clothes generator for the normal knock-about thugs yet? Anyone?
But of course, this isn’t all bad news because remember you have the ability to fight villains on the ground, in mid-air and of course on the side of buildings. Take into account the various abilities afforded to you as Spider-man, normal attack combos, aerial combos, web shots, car throwing, and web zip attacks, you have more than enough movesets in your arsenal to build up some really big and impressive combos!
The random crime hotspots is however a secondary part of the story as of course there is a linear story to be told and as you could have guessed thanks to the Black Symbiote Suit’s appearance, Venom and this symbiote play a rather big part in it. As you encounter a number of heroes and fulfill their various mission requirements (note, Wolverine is one of them!), you actually get to call on them to assist you on the ground once your special meter has been filled, meaning that at any time and depending on which path you choose, you might have Black Cat, Luke Cage, Moon Knight or even the Vulture beating down on thugs at your side.
And speaking of paths, at various points in the game you will be tasked with making a selection as to which action to take, the one leading your down a more villainous black path and the other down the more righteous red path. This leaning constantly changes during the game based on both your actions and choices and in the end, it is up to you just how you want to tackle the game, be it as the ultimate good guy or perhaps as a more darker, win-at-all costs kind of hero.
There are of course boss fights to be taken care of and these are all usually multi-staged fights, though you usually battle it out much as you would against a normal villain, though perhaps just using your block button a little more than normal. There are also a couple of quick time events to take care of at the end of a boss sequence, though thankfully they have been made pretty simple to get through and won’t leave you frustrated by randomizing the sequences at will!
The graphics are pretty solid, nothing too spectacular, getting the job done, though some of the character models like Kingpin up close isn’t exactly a good thing. The camera does sometimes get a little stuck thanks to the fluid movement you are allowed in terms of swinging through the sky, flipping onto a building and then diving to the ground all in a single heartbeat, and I’ll admit, the game has managed to crash on me once so far while playing it. (Thankfully though the autosave works pretty damn well!)
The voice work is a little B-grade at times and there are moment where the game comes across as well, a bit silly, but the general music makes up for it by complementing the action sequences perfectly, so I’m not going to harp on about it as a negative.
The story has a number of neat little surprises in store for you and as such I won’t say anything more to spoil it in case you are keen on picking up the game, but I do want to say that despite the generic and sometimes unpolished feel of the game at times, for fans of the comic book series this really is a fun little game to pick up.
Even if you do just spend half the time swinging around the vast city just for the hell of it! :)
(And as an extended note, I even managed to get Chantelle to swing about the city and beat up some bad guys on one of the nights I couldn’t serenade her to sleep… She’s a natural I tell you! :P)