After a less-than-heroic start on the Wii, Spider-Man appears poised to swing back into good graces this fall.
After the letdown that was Spider-Man 3 on Wii, I've been pessimistic about Spider-Man games since. Treyarch's Spider-Man: Web of Shadows changed this. With my brief hands-on time at the Activision Press Event last week, I can safely say that this game controls very nicely and is visually pleasing.
The basic controls are what you would expect of any action title on the Wii. Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, you control Spider-Man with the analog stick, and use A for jump and B for a melee attack. In the previous open-city Spider-Man game on Wii, web-swinging was very convoluted and required swinging the Wii Remote and Nunchuk around like a fool. This is simplified in the new game as all it takes is a flick of the Wii Remote down and Spidey jumps up and shoots out a web to the closest building he can find. This simple rhythm is easy to keep up and it makes web-swinging a breeze.
The combat is where this game shines and this is for a good reason as it is the impetus of the game. In addition to the aforementioned melee button (B), combat is done using simple gestures with the Wii Remote. By gesturing to the left or right, you begin what is called the web flick. You shoot a strand of web at an enemy and launch yourself at it. There is a small timing window right as you hit the enemy where you can either flick the remote again, or press A, B, or Z. Depending on the suit, you perform a different attack each time to varying success depending on the foe. For example, I fought some symbiotes on gliders that were easily defeated by using the B button variation where I stomped on them in mid-air and watched as their precious gliders exploded. I also gleefully used the Z button variation so I could repeatedly throw symbiote-infested civilians off of the top of a building. That really pissed off S.H.I.E.L.D. All these moves can be linked together to create a lot of air juggling and combos. While I only got as high as 15 to 20 hits, the developer showing the game off said that he had managed to get up to a 100 hit combo.
There are a few problems that I noticed with the gestures in combat. The left or right motion for the web flick is easily confused with the web swing, which is downward motion. I occasionally began swinging away from battle instead of staying in the fight. Along with that, if you tilt the Nunchuk to the left or right, you switch suits on the fly. I accidentally did this a few times and didn’t even notice it.
Despite the few issues, my hands-on time with Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was very satisfying and I can only imagine it gets better as there appears to be a nice layer of depth to the combat.