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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Shaba Entertainment

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 21, 2008

 

 

- Spider-Man has never been more powerful or agile

- Lots of comic book cameos

- Story takes a long time to build

 

 

- Camera still has a very hard time keeping up with Spider-Man

- Lack of interesting side missions

- Some really bad voice acting

 

 

Review: Spider-Man 3 (360)

Review: Superman Returns (XB)

Review: Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

 

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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

spider-man web of shadows          spider-man web of shadows

 

Acknowledgement that the Marvel Universe version of New York is rife with superheroes (and villains) has always come up short. Ultimate Spider-Man came close to embracing this fact, but Spider-Man: Web of Shadows gives it a bear hug.  There are cameos and major roles played by Luke Cage, Wolverine, Moon Knight, Nick Fury, Iron Man, Black Cat, and the pantheon of Spider-Man villains like Vulture, Rhino and Venom.  For the first time the city that Spider-Man calls home feels fleshed out, at least when it comes to meta-humans and web slinging through the wide-open city.

 

The story takes a long time to build, especially when the game starts with such a spectacular scene.  New York is under attack and there’s all this chaos exploding all over the place and Spider-Man dives off a building and into the game and you think to yourself “This is going to be awesome!”  Then reality sets in – the opening scenes are taken from much later in the game and getting there feels like a long

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slog.  Once the action amps up and it feels like the city is under siege, Web of Shadows really is the best Spider-Man game ever. Ever.

 

That’s why it’s so horrible to still be coping with a camera that just can’t keep up with the protagonist and there’s still very little in the way of side quests to do.  You’re not saving falling construction workers or grabbing balloons, but the side missions are all pretty

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simple and repetitive.  “Defeat 100 enemies of this kind” mission aren’t interesting and if you decide to complete them (to earn experience and upgrade your abilities), it just slows down the main story arc of the game.  And when you’re fighting with a camera that has a hard time keeping up with Spider-Man, especially when moving from aerial and ground combat to wall combat. Sometimes I actually had to stop and figure out what surface I was standing on because the camera had flipped one too many times.   Both the camera and crummy side mission artifacts from previous Spider-Man games desperately need to be addressed in any future games.

 

Spidey has never been this powerful. The range of moves and abilities at your command are huge, especially as Spider-Man levels-up and upgrades both his regular and symbiote suits (which can be swapped with a simple press of the right stick).  As much variety there is with the combat, it’s oddly accessible.  I could hammer on the attack button or I could mix it up with aerial combos and switch midway through a combo to Spidey’s black suit to really keep it interesting.  It feels really good, without feeling overly complex.

 

spider-man web of shadows          spider-man web of shadows

 

While I actually liked the story, especially toward the end, the fact is Spider-Man (as voiced by Mike Vaughn) sounds awful.  He’s whiney, nasally and wildly uneven throughout the game.  The supporting characters are much better in their roles, especially Steve Blum as Wolverine. (Blum has a CV as long as your arm with almost exclusively video game and cartoon voice acting parts.)  Even if it is better than Tobey McGuire’s wooden Spider-Man, the fact the main character is actually annoying to listen to is unfortunate and could have been avoided.

 

Developer Shaba Entertainment seems to be in the best position to finally iron out the camera difficulties and insert some more interesting side missions into the next Spider-Man game.  If the combat and story (even as long as it takes to get going) wasn’t as good as it is, I would be much more hesitant to give Web of Shadows a positive recommendation.  As it is, Shaba has done some really good work here and it’s worthy of attention, just go into the experience with your eyes wide open.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(November 10, 2008)

 

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