Spider-man: Web of Shadows
The intro of Spider-man: Web of Shadows looks fantastic and promises a great experience in the Spider-man universe. We see a tired and despirited Spider-man walking on a skyscraper through the debris of fights between Shield soldiers and the offspring of Venom. The music is haunting, the atmosphere almost perfect and the story is playing out well even in this first minute.
The days are hard for Spidey, he lost the trust of the citizens of New York, the bad guys have the upper hand and his hearth is broken because he lost the trust of his girlfriend MJ, who’s mad because Peter Parker always falls for the easy power of his dark counterpart. Then Venom appears on the screen, and all mayhem breaks loose. In the chaos following his appearance, everything goes wrong.
After this great intro, the game sets you off three days before the unavoidable events you’ve just seen. Too bad this is where the real drama begins for the gamers who just thought they had seen something amazing. Because amazing isn’t really a fitting word when looking at Web of Shadows as a whole. There are way too many irritating mistakes for that, and Activision did make some strange choices.
Web of Shadows lets you decide whether you want to be good or evil which is, without a doubt, a nice feature in theory. Do you choose to be the noble hero who’s concerned about his fellow New Yorkers or do you play your part as the evolved mutant that lives inside Peter Parker like a virus? The bad version of Spidey certainly has the upper hand when we’re talking about power so don’t be surprised when you’re suddenly swinging minivans at your enemies. At fixed points in cut-scenes you can also choose good or evil, sparking a likewise outing from your environment. It’s nice to see how your choices affect the story but unfortunately there are different factors that keep you from actually wanting to play the game once again to see the effects of all the choices.
Of all these factors, we’re most unforgiving about the gameplay. Swinging through the city with your webs looks cool and we hardly can remember any Spider-man game that had the beloved superhero flying through the city so fluently, but the main part of the gameplay, the fights, disappoints big time. They seem to get stuck in a rut after a few times. They aren’t horrific, but there are so many fights that the shortcomings are easily detected. There’s not much depth to be found and there’s really nothing more left to do than brainlessly smash your way through opponents by pressing the same button over and over again. Though it has to be said, the combos through the air (webswinging your way through the opponents while smashing them) look really cool. For the first ten times that is, because afterwards you just wished the fight would already be over. I didn’t even care who won. I’m in need of some serious variation, which Activision failed to deliver.
Boring fights wouldn’t be half so boring if they fitted in a decent story, which isn’t the case sadly enough. There’s no real emotional connection with Spider-man or his bad counterpart and Activision refuses to go any deeper into the inner conflict of Peter Parker. Because Spider-man: Web of Shadows takes place after the events that many people know of from the movies, you will never see the great villains we all love. It does seem Web of Shadows has a cast of misfits and the villains from the B-team of Marvel. I’m sure that the real fan will enjoy these characters, but the moderate Spider-man fan will be disappointed.
As I’ve said the movements of Spider-man are brilliant. Spidey swings through the city as you wished he always did and really comes close too the acrobatics of the three movies. Too bad the city itself looks mediocre at best and never actually feels like a real living city. Sad, because sometimes the graphics seem to skyrocket off the screen, while at other times it looks like a polished PS2 game. For example, the boss fights excel both with graphics and gameplay. Now why couldn’t the whole game be as good as these boss fights?
The same feeling of inconsistency lurks at every corner of the game and especially concerning the voice actors. Some characters put on a good realistic show, while Spider-man himself sounds like a whining bitch with a bad taste for humour. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a more irritating performance from a superhero flick, and I’ve seen Spider-man 3 so that’s saying something. The humour is really annoying and everything but funny. Peter Parker should just shut his yap for five seconds. It seems as if Activision didn’t want to go full frontal with the dark character of the story, which is a mistake.
Oh well: choosing good or evil never really affects the gameplay that much because you’re still fighting pretty much the same fights; pushing the same combinations etc… There’s no real reason to discover the things you missed when choosing for good or evil, so I’m putting this game next to my other pile of mediocre games. It got potential, so maybe Activision can try again in a couple of years.