GC 2008: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Preview
Written Sunday, September 21, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Superhero games have been generally been pretty poor over recent times. Way back on the PS2 though a glimmer of hope called Spider-Man 2 hit our consoles. A very playable game in what can only be described as the best superhero title to date. It’s a shame that Spider-Man 3 took a massive stride backwards, but here we are, waiting for another Spider-Man title, worthy of the accolades that the films and comic books have received. Treyarch, having created number 2 and 3, are looking to get the series back on track with Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is an open world game where you can play as either the red or the black suit with each suit having its own strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to flick between them on the fly. The two suits represent two different fighting styles, on the on hand, the red suit gives Spidey increased agility and better long ranged attacks, whereas the black suit is more of a brawler suit that carries with it certain health abilities.
Welcome to New York in its nightmare state after what can only be described as a symbiote invasion and you, as Spider-Man must step in to rid the quarantined city of this alien life form so it can return to its normal state. The game in fact features two different story arches depending on which suit you decide to follow giving the game some good replayability value. Depending on what path you take has a direct consequence on the story arch, the characters you meet and your general experience.
Web of Shadows introduces a new combat system to the series after the failure of that found in 3. It focuses around chain combat allowing you to string long combos together with an easy transition from ground, to air, to the wall and back again. The new wall combat is surprisingly simple and non disorientating allowing you to stick and unstick Spidey to and from the wall with a simple tap of the left bumper.
The game features a pretty deft targeting system allowing you to easily lock on to threats and select new targets using the right analogue with ease. The control system is entirely time based and you won’t be thrown in to the deep end thankfully, instead, the game introduces you to the new types of combat through a natural progression and after a while, it feels like second nature.
I have to say, that as far as the general feel of the game goes, it’s refreshing to see that Web of Shadows actually has actually over-shadowed (excuse the pun) recent Spider-Man titles the 360 has seen. In a way, the ease of the controls and how it feels is a lot more like Spider-Man 2 than 3, for instance, just navigating the city using the web slingers feels like you are actually in control of Spider-Man and not a confused superhero on some sort of day release. This ultimately means that it allows you to pick up some great speed but at the same time maintain a high degree of control.
The game features an RPG element that runs in the background and is tied to both of your suits, rewarding you with red experience or black experience that you can use to upgrade them as you see fit. It’s even possible to sell the experience back if you’re not happy with how you’ve allocated it and then go down a different path with them.
As well as Spider-Man featuring in the title, plenty of other Marvel characters are also due to feature. Only a small few have been announced so far and amongst them, Wolverine and Black Cat are two names that stand out. These other Marvel characters will most likely be quest givers but there are instances where you will be able to take control over them for a short period to aid your cause.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is certainly looking like a vast improvement over previous Spider-Man titles of recent years, leaving Spider-Man 3 as just a bitter taste in the back of your mouth. The new combat systems and level navigation is the reason for this, as controlling Spider-Man no longer seems to be a chore. Obviously, we won’t know how the full title will shape up until we get our hands on the final review code but instead of dreading another headache and frustrating experience, we’re quietly looking forward to seeing Spider-Man strut his stuff again on the streets of Manhattan.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is available this coming fall for Xbox 360, PS3 and Games for Windows.