Web of Shadows starts with little background and finds Spider-Man in the middle of a battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and symbiotes, looking for MJ. It then takes you back to the beginning of the story to see what led to those events. Your first few missions are what you would expect: Spidey battling basic street criminals; pretty standard warm-up missions where you get used to the controls and what you can do. Fairly quickly though, you're fighting more standard comic book fare: mechanically enhanced soldiers, symbiotes, a handful of supervillains and the occasional superhero just for fun.
That’s the interesting part of Web of Shadows... deciding whether you want to be the Spider-Man of the comic book and resist the temptation of your symbiote, or embrace the power he brings and do things your own way. Throughout the game you’ll be presented with a choice (normally after a boss fight) and can go good or evil. These choices affect whether the other supers you meet in the game will aid you later on. The supervillains obviously don’t care for the uptight Spider-Man of old, and the superheroes aren’t exactly jumping on board with your new stylish suit… or the personality that goes with it. Regardless of your choices, you can switch suits at any time, even in the middle of a combo.
Web of Shadows is a visually stimulating game. The graphics are clean, and fairly detailed, seeming to incorporate a large part of New York and you can explore all of it from the beginning. There are collectible power-ups that increase your level found literally everywhere throughout the system. It even includes a destructible environment for those that enjoy breaking things or throwing cars, with civilians still inside of course.
The combat system is fun and incorporates some classic Spiderman moves (using his webs to pull the target back in for another shot, tossing enemies around, etc.). The physics of the game seem very realistic (well, for a superhero game anyway)... And the story is, for the most part, pretty well thought out.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the graphics, while pretty good, aren’t pushing the limits of what new systems can handle. Okay, not really a negative, more like a missed opportunity. And there were a few spots where the sound would drop low or completely out, or the video would get choppy, but thankfully there weren’t many of these and they didn’t seem to detract too badly from the game.
Probably the most disappointing fact about the game is the lack of variety in combat moves. Okay, there are actually several dozen moves, for the ground, for the air, for the wall, and they can all be chained together for some pretty spectacular combos. The problem is more that you only really need one move, Web Strike, to complete the game. And in fact, it’s a necessary skill to master to defeat at least two of the bosses. So much so, that you get a special tutorial early in the game specifically geared towards learning how to Web Strike. Having a few more encounters that required more advanced combos, or that couldn’t be accomplished by Web Striking from one enemy to the next, would have been nice.
The only other limitattion is its replay value. With no difficulty option, there’s not much reason to play through the game more than twice (once for each suit). Adding harder difficulty levels with unlocked features, would have been a big plus.
That said, Web of Shadows is a decently entertaining game. You get to beat up bad guys and feel like Spider-Man while doing it. And that’s really why you would be buying this game in the first place, isn’t it? (Ok, we know it’s so that you can use the dark suit and take on anyone, but you get to do that too, so it’s all good…)