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Although this Spider-Man tale brings little new to the genre, Web of Shadows does provide a surprisingly enjoyable romp through symbiote ravaged New York. The disjointed storyline and somewhat repetitive nature of the combat are more or less made up for by the nice combat options (with more and more complicated and powerful attacks being purchased with experience points) and free-roaming web swinging amongst the gradually decaying and symbiote-infested tower blocks.
The web-swinging of course is a vital component of the game - this is Spider-Man after all! Get it wrong and it's going to be no fun at all, so it's fortunate for us that, barring the odd situation, the developers have got it pretty much spot-on. You can fire your web at will and swing majestically though the air, with spidey performing some really nice moves and flourishes as he goes. You'll be doing a lot of it as well, as you'll need to cover a lot of ground during the course of the game and this is the only way to get around the city at any decent speed.
There are a few glitches involving the targeting system and the camera position - the old chestnut of targeting everything but the enemy you actually want to hit crops up fairly often, and rapid camera switches as you scale walls can leave you with no idea which way you're facing for a few moments. But these are really only minor irritations and most of the time you'll move around pretty smoothly. Unfortunately I came across one glitch that required a mission-abort when Rhino got stuck in a corner during a mission to free him from prison, and there were several occasions where I locked on to invisible enemies or enemies that were actually behind walls or doors.
Web of Shadows does provide a surprisingly enjoyable romp through symbiote ravaged New York.
The storyline for Web of Shadows is pretty basic - protect New York from Venom's symbiote army. Along the way you'll meet various Marvel characters like Luke Cage, Vulture, Black Cat (voiced by Battlestar Galactica's favourite Cylon, Tricia Helfer) and Wolverine. Each of these key characters is introduced in a battle, following which you have to choose a good or bad (or 'red' and 'black') path which then determines which character you hang out with for a while and what cut scene you get to see. Thus far it seems a fairly cosmetic choice with no apparent effect on the actual gameplay. It adds to the enjoyment of the game, but I don't think I'd be willing to play through again just to see what effect a different choice would have (I'm also lucky to have one of my children playing at the same time and he has chosen to go fully 'black' path, whereas I'm going fully 'red', so I can see the different scenes when he is playing).
The 'red' and 'black' choices combine with the ability to choose to wear spidey's black or red suits (though they can be changed at will). The choice of suit mainly impacts what attacks you'll be able to use - with red-suit spidey being speedier but somewhat lightweight, whereas black-suit spidey can pick up and launch cars and has some nifty ‘tendril' attacks where he can use his symbiote tendrils to whip, slam and generally unleash havoc. Each suit has its own set of attacks, subdivided into web, wall, air, ground and special, plus red-spidey's web-shot which can be used to tangle opponents up and black-spidey's tendril attacks. As you progress through the game you will use your gained experience points to enhance each attack. There are certainly enough experience points on offer to let you fully enhance both red and black suits so don't feel you have to stick to one ‘skill tree'.
Sometimes all we want is a quick blast at something that doesn't require too much cerebral involvement.
As mentioned before, the combat can get a little repetitive, especially if you're trying to achieve all the optional goals, so to keep the interest level up you really need to experiment with all the different attacks on offer to you. On the whole it's not a difficult game, though a couple of the ‘boss' battles can get tricky. Spidey's health will regenerate if you stay out of trouble for a short while (whereas your opponents won't) so unless you get careless you should be fine. Quick load times and regular auto-saves are a boon and mean that you won't have to go through large portions of storyline / battles again if you do come a cropper.
There was a feeling towards the end of the game that we'd just wanted the story to conclude - please don't send me out on another ‘defeat 25 symbiote type ‘x' monsters' quest, so I guess this means that the novelty was starting to wear off somewhat. However I did enjoy playing it and can thoroughly recommend it to both Spider-Man fans and others who aren't looking for a game with too much depth. And I don't mean that in a bad way - sometimes all we want is a quick blast at something that doesn't require too much cerebral involvement!
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