I'm not afraid to admit I was a massive Spider-man fan growing up. I collected all the various Spider-man titles Marvel put out to steal kids' money and ate up every story, villain and love triangle old web-head ever came across.
I loved the first two movies (and had been holding my breath for them as far back as when James Cameron was rumoured to have secured the rights, back in the 90s) and even find value in the third one (though just a little), and so looked toward Activision's Spider-man: Web of Shadows
with a sense of hope as a host of guest characters was revealed as well as a promise Shaba and Treyarch would address all issues ever found with previous Spidey games.
Having said all that, I really don't know where to begin with Spider-man: Web of Shadows post play-time except to say unless you're under the age of 13 or don't care about the Spider-man universe in any capacity and just like mashing buttons, you're probably better off just turning away. If you don't fit the above criteria and need some reasoning, however, here is a list of examples as to why you should probably avoid this game at all costs:
- Spider-man's voice sounds like a pimply-faced teenager
- Mary-Jane Watson is apparently pretty tough
- Spider-man doesn't know how to be Spider-man, he needs Luke Cage to tell him
- Gangs fight with each other in the middle of the street, and keep shooting over and over and over. But no one ever dies
- Gangs aren't afraid of Spider-man, a hero who can climb walls and lift cars over his head
- Apparently when Spider-man is around, there's very little traffic in New York
- Spider-man can swim, but is so much like a spider, water is not affected by him being in it, at all
- Spider-man can attach his web-line to thin air
- The city of New York has the same buildings on every corner
- When gangs do drive-by shoot-outs, they simply drive around the block at the correct, law-abiding speed, over and over again (until Spidey decides to intervene)
- While it's clear most people love Spider-man, most people all tend to have the exact same response for him when spotted
- Innocent NPCs in New York are impervious to exploding cars
- Spidey's 'black' symbiote suit is really more a shade of purple than anything else
- Wolverine has a vested interest in symbiotes, Spider-man and New York, for no real reason (cashing in?)
- New York is a big place, but Spider-man must follow a set of rules to be able to utilise it
- Despite Spider-man's ability to adapt to any situation, in-game breaking a single rule for a mission requires a restart
- Spider-man keeps yelling at people about Mary-Jane, meaning all anyone needs to do is find out who Mary-Jane is involved with, then see what that person's connection to Spider-man is (ie takes all of his photos) and put two and two together to see that Peter Parker is Spider-man
- Spider-man is supposed to be... well, enough really - you get the idea
Unfortunately Spider-man: Web of Shadows does so little to not only stay true to the Spider-man legacy and lore, but maintain any
kind of relationship to the series' roots (which are very deep), it comes across as an utterly out-of-touch franchise instalment.
What's more, as far as videogame design is concerned, almost everything here (beyond just swinging around the city which is the only real
fun aspect of the game) feels like it has been ripped right from an archaic 90s action/arcade game, or maybe something a game design student put together for a project.
The touted freedom of New York is barely even present beyond the physical geometry. Failing a simple task resets said task and you only ever have one way to actually perform most of the game's missions anyway. And the hand-holding throughout (oh the hand-holding), even for casual gamers, is completely insulting.
Other hyped factors, such as the dynamic shifting of story elements based on playing as a good Spidey or bad Spidey (through extended use of the black suit) aren't really all that dynamic and come across more as Choose Your Own Adventure
style decisions with black and white outcomes. There's nothing organic about the game's flow, progression or narrative really only leaving the swinging around experience or battling with the massive combo potential as the only real draws here.
The real issues here are the mismarriage between game, comic and history as each component has been completely mishandled singularly, so when they're finally forged together as a unified product it creates an almighty mess.
What's equally vexing about all of this is on paper, any free-form sandbox Spider-man title should work better than your GTAs, Fables, Far Crys and more through his awesome abilities and New York stomping ground. But alas, since videogames began there has yet
to be a definitive superhero experience, let alone a Spider-man one. But I love the character so much and see the true potential here I'll keep holding my breath and know that Web of Shadows really didn't even come close.