Spiderman has always been one of my favorite super heroes (Batman being the other at the top of the list) and that’s mostly because of the web swinging and cool acrobatics, I’d so love to be able to do that sort of thing (ignoring the fact I’m a wimp).
You get thrown into the game at the deep end – there’s a pretty cool cinematic (which reminded me of the Mad World Gears of War trailer) and then you’re swiftly fighting evil flying things, rescuing people and then confronted by Venom himself… Very little is done to explain the controls throughout all of this and you will often feel frustrated and confused – however it’s nice and easy so shouldn’t pose a challenge.
Giving a game the same sense of freedom that the “real” Spiderman has is bound to be a challenge. He can swing through the air, climb on walls, and fight like a ninja – often all at the same time. The controls are explained through a series of missions given you by the in-game characters, specifically Luke Cage.
Early on in the game there is a good chance you will feel frustrated with the control scheme. It’s hard to get onto a wall to climb and climbing is quite slow. You won’t be able to do the swinging without crashing into something.
Not being into comic books (they’re not so big in the uk) my knowledge of Spiderman is limited to the films and cartoons (mostly films) so that tends to be what I think of when Spiderman is mentioned. However the ingame characters are one of the points where the game distances itself from the movies, there are lots of things going on in the game that do not happen in any of the films – including a lot of characters who would no doubt make more sense if you knew the back story a little better. For instance the Cat shows up at regular intervals and generally get’s in the way (aka teaches you swing around the city).
The controls and both the best and worst part of the game. They take quite a bit of getting used too. Initially there is a lot of disorientation when switching between standing on floors and standing on walls, but once you get the hang of what does what it’s pretty plain sailing. One element I thought was particularly cool was in the in air combat which worked incredibly well. Never do you feel you’re plummeting to your doom – you’re always in control.
The story is a bit hit and miss. A number of the enemies seem like they’re there just to pad the game out a bit. Collecting the moves through earning credits is also a bit funky – I’m sure that’s not how the “real” Spiderman did it.
Visually the game is pretty good. Up close the characters do look a little bit plasticy – but the frame rate when zipping around the pretty impressively drawn city is plenty good enough – and it IS a full grown city. Unfortunately the invisible boundaries stopping you from leaving are a bit on the lame side – although with the abilities Spiderman has they’re understandable.
I must admit I didn’t make much use of the dual nature of Spidermans personality. I always went for the good option when given a chance to decide between good or evil I always went for the good option. The only time I really used his dark abilities were when I needed to throw cars, or when I pressed the “change” button by accident.
One quite cool thing I noticed was all the references to Tony Stark and the Iron Man game/ film. A nice tie in that will work well in Marvels favour. The tie ins of other franchises as part of the story also work well – although surprised me more than a little (as I said above, I don’t know the comics so am not sure how these things work).
All in all Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is an above average adventure game. The story tries to do something different and works pretty well and the action elements, once you get used to the controls, are suitably enjoyable. The downside is the relatively slow start to the game and simply getting used to the controls.