Though Spider-Man: Web of Shadows hardly treads new ground, it should manage to appease fans eager to play a Spider-Man game that isn’t sub-par (Spider-Man 3, we’re looking at you). Web of Shadows manages to provide a good deal of fun even it doesn’t bring much new to the table. Fighting random batches of criminals, an average story, and even the ability to switch costumes and abilities on the fly have all been done before. Where it succeeds is with its presentation, as it offers some great visual touches, decent combat, and the fun spirit of Marvel’s friendly neighborhood superhero.
The story of Web of Shadows basically has Spidey staving off a symbiote army, as Venom is once more up to no good. An entire force of the alien entity descends upon the city, and of course it’s up to old webhead to get things under control. During his initial encounter with his nemesis, a part of Pete’s black symbiote suit attaches itself to the hero, granting him a few new avenues to combat crime throughout New York. As you progress through the game, you’ll encounter a slew of other characters from the Marvel U. Ultimately, it’s an entirely forgettable tale. It feels like something slapped together just to introduce new characters — you’ll be helping out Luke Cage as a street fight breaks out in front of a hospital, which will lead to the introduction of Black Cat, leading to encounters with Rhino or Black Widow, and eventually to the foreseeable climax, where it’s up to Spider-Man to finally quell the threat and save the day. While the storyline does manage to include a few fan favorites from Spidey’s world, it never achieves anything truly memorable.
With any Spider-Man game, it’s important for the developer to nail the web-swinging controls, as Spider-Man’s unique method of movement is a large part of what defines the character and makes exploring the cityscape entertaining. With Web of Shadows, Shaba did an excellent job of making swinging around the city fun again. Not only is it the fastest way to get around, it just feels right. It captures the speed and thrills of Spider-Man bounding through the city, allowing you to quickly soar amongst the highest peaks of the New York skyline or get right back down to the street to stomp on some baddies in a matter of seconds. Not only that, it’s amazing to look at, as Shaba has included some fantastic Spidey poses and flourishes while swinging. The game is filled with these stunning animations, showcasing his acrobatic nature and making for some great eye candy. However, the otherwise excellent visuals are marred by technical issues, which cause some frustration.
Despite the relative weaknesses of its hardware, the Wii manages to bring these visuals across well enough. The character models and the environments suffer from a downgrade compared to those of the higher-end versions, as they’re lower resolution and, as such, look like something out of last generation. Buildings look like boxes, cars look like soap box racers, and the characters look like passable caricatures of their counterparts from the other consoles. Despite that, the animations didn’t really suffer that much, and since it’s the game’s animations that help bring some character to our hero, our complaints don’t go much deeper than the aesthetic.
On top of that, the camera works a bit better on the Wii, doing away with the quick, jarring twists and turns, giving the player better vantage points during their fight against evil. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect — you’ll still wrestle with keeping the camera on-task — but it’s substantially better on the Wii. As far as controls go, buttons have been remapped to compensate for the limited buttons on the Wii controller, but the big change comes when you have to flick the Remote to shoot out a web. Just a quick flick and a tap of the jump button to launch yourself away from your webline will get you going. It works, paving the way for a very decent experience. If you’re worried about finding something as horrendous as the Wii version of Spider-Man 3, rest assured that this game has received the proper attention, making it a very decent experience.