Spidey's got some solid new Wii controls to go along with his new combat moves. Too bad all he does is beat dudes up.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is, without a doubt, the best console Spider-Man game I have ever played. However, the fact that it’s the best console Spider-Man game does not make it perfect. Spidey’s Shaba Games and Treyarch-developed Wii game does a lot of things right, namely with combat and presentation, but it still falls short in mission variety and controls.
The story of Web of Shadows is presented wonderfully, at least in the beginning. Good-looking cut scenes feature enough mystery and intrigue to keep even mild Spider-Man fans interested. It is a somewhat convoluted tale, but it sets up some pretty cool set pieces and events. The player is also given the choice between good or bad at crucial points in the story. Different things will happen depending on how you answer, culminating in one of four endings. However, outside of these cut-scenes, the story is presented in lame dialogue between Spider-Man and whichever character is giving him his missions.
These missions are doled out by various heroes, beginning with Luke Cage and moving on to characters such as Black Cat, Moon Knight, and Wolverine. With the exception of a few interesting story missions, every single one is a simple "kill x amount of this type of enemy" scenario. While not all of these missions are necessary for completion of the story, most players – especially completionists – will find that they begin to get very old very fast. The game actually flows much better if you completely ignore all of the side missions.
Fortunately, combat prevents the missions from getting repetitive right away. Boasting new features and two similar yet different suits, combat is a blast. The trademark red-and-blue suit, the more acrobatic of the two, features more emphasis on speed and agility, while the symbiotic black suit is more powerful and focuses more on strength and brutality. Both suits have separate skill trees that add to and upgrade Spidey's various moves and combos.
What differentiates this combat from previous Spider-Man games is the web strike. Activated by just a flick of the Wii Remote, the web strike sends out a web strand to the nearest foe that lets Spider-Man home in and attack. As you upgrade the web strike it becomes more powerful, eventually granting you the ability to chain together extended combos by mixing different punches and kicks with the web strike. Combat really shines with its emphasis on graceful moves, and only becomes a chore when you fight an enemy who repels the majority of your attacks.
The boss fights in Web of Shadows are a lot of fun the first time you try them (the Vulture battle is an especially spectacular aerial showdown that really couldn't have been done in any previous Spider-Man game). However, it’s a shame that the game entails fighting every enemy twice (regularly, and in their symbiote form). There are also some weird moments, like when Wolverine barks out comic trivia like "who are your parents?" mid-fight.
Web of Shadows deserves a good deal of credit for the way they introduce you to the game’s controls and its basic gameplay. You are slowly introduced to all the different moves via tutorials at a pace that never gets overwhelming. For the most part, the controls work perfectly and the only real fault is the Wii Remote's capabilities. The motion controls in this game, while all necessary, all overlap. A downward flick begins web-swinging, while a side flick brings about the best addition to combat, the web strike. The Nunchuk is saddled with a side flick for an on-the-fly suit change and a down flick for lock-on targeting. I can't count the number of times I mistakenly changed suits or web-striked into an enemy when I wanted to swing away.
Overall, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a very good game that I recommend whole-heartedly to any Spider-Man fan. If you don't have an affinity for ol' webhead, the lack of mission variety and control issues are likely to significantly detract from the enjoyment you will have with this title. If you can get past that, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows offers a cinematic experience and a great combat system.