Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Xbox 360
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Shaba/Treyarch
Release Date: Out Now
It must annoy fans of Spider-Man that there has yet to be a great Spider-Man game. Most have been mediocre whilst some have been poor. Sadly the situation worsens if you happen to be deaf. We've reviewed a few Spider-Man games in the past and they haven't even been subtitled making them games to just avoid. Spider-Man 3 was the last game we reviewed and it suffered from poor provision for deaf gamers and a poor battle system as well as a rather disorientating camera. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows manages to improve on the battle mechanics but falls short on those other two areas.
New York City is being ravaged by Venom and his symbiotic army and it's up to Spider-Man to sort out the rather large mess. Actually, it's not just up to Spider-Man as the game features other Marvel superheroes and villains too. Whilst there's a storyline running through the whole experience, it's worth pointing out that there are plenty of missions for you to undertake and some of these don't really have much to do with the overall storyline. The reward for completing quests is experience points (XP) and you'll need XP to improve Spider-Man's abilities and unlock additional moves. The problem with these missions is that they usually involve taking out wave after wave of enemies and whilst some missions are OK, some are rather tedious.
Whilst playing the game you can choose between Spider-Man's default Red Suit (surely it should be called Blue and Red suit?) and his infamous Black Suit. Doing so enables you to change from one movie set to another and whilst the Red Suit allows Spider-Man to be more agile, the Black Suit allows him greater strength. This initially seemed like a good thing but there are problems with it. For starters the movie sets don't differ that much from each other and there's not really any advantage in using one suit over another for most of the time. Secondly it's more beneficial to pump your XP into one of either your Red Suit abilities or your Black Suit abilities and not both, as you can fully develop a suit's skill tree if you channel your XP into just one of them. At set points in the game you'll get to be good or evil and this morality system can affect certain things but most notably it will affect who you can recruit to fight alongside you and which one of the various endings you'll receive.
The two most impressive aspects of the Web of Shadows have to be the combat and the web-swinging. The combat is comprised of ground, air and wall combat. The combat is definitely satisfactory but what's particularly impressive is the way you can string three different types of combat together in a fluid manner. It makes the combat a much more immersive experience and it's something that Spider-Man fans will appreciate. Spider-Man's key ability is his Web-Strike which allows him to latch onto an enemy with his web and pull himself up to them quick enough to do some serious damage before they realise what's hit them. In truth it's the one move you'll use more than anything else in the game, such is its effectiveness. Web-swinging your way around the city also feels better than in previous games and is definitely the quickest way to get around the city. Various Spider-Man games have had unsatisfactory web-swinging so it's good to finally see a developer get it right.
From a visual standpoint Web of Shadows is actually quite pleasing. The character models for the heroes and villains are all fine. Spider-Man in particular looks good. A lot of the other characters in the game look a little too much alike however. New York City looks pretty good too. The camera is a lot better in Web of Shadows than it was in Spider-Man 3 but it's not perfect and there are still moments when the camera doesn't keep up with the action and you'll become a little disorientated. The frame is fine for the most part but there are moments, particularly later in the game, where there is some slowdown which is unfortunate.
Unfortunately, Web of Shadows is yet another Spider-Man game that's not that great an experience for deaf gamers. None of the cutscenes are subtitled so you'll miss out on what storyline there is in the game which is a real insult to Spider-Man fans. In-game dialogue is subtitled with character names and portraits being shown next to the dialogue but you have to wonder why the developers bothered when the cutscenes were completely ignored. Tutorial messages are shown in text so you'll get to grips with the game's controls rather effortlessly. There are also indicators that show you which way you should be heading in order to complete a mission which is certainly useful in a game where the possibilities for becoming disorientated are potentially great.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is actually a decent game but it loses marks because of how repetitive it becomes. Being able to change between Spider-Man's Red Suit and Black Suit really is nothing more than giving him an alternate set of abilities. The morality system doesn't feel as well realised as it could have been. The biggest problem however is the lack of subtitles which means that deaf gamers will not be able to enjoy the game's cutscenes. The camera can be a little disorientating but it's definitely an improvement on the one that was in Spider-Man 3. The combat is definitely the highlight of the game and whichever Spider-Man game comes next, the combat in Web of Shadows should definitely be included in it.