Friday, June 12, 2009

Game Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

[This one is a game review, I tend not to do these too often, because games are expensive.]

It's been a while since I've made contact, mostly because I've been too busy working and making my Halloween costume. (Dr. Horrible. It turned out pretty awesome. I'll show pictures of that later.) Anyway, the day after it came out, I bought Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. I finished it up fairly quickly, and was planning to write a review once I had finished it. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned, and before I knew it, I had totally forgotten about it. Anyway, on to the review of:

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Anyway, like lots of things that involve Spider-Man/Venom/Power Rangers/Donuts/cool stuff, I was prepared to adore this game. It had Spider-Man, Venom, the symbiote suit, and it seemed epic. I had seen every trailer released for it, and I loved the concept. On the whole, I found it to be disappointing, but I'll elaborate on that later.

Firstly, the story. (Oh, just so you know, spoilers ahead.) It was dark. It starts in the middle of a giant symbiote invasion, rife with explosions, screaming, and just general chaos. You then are sent to kill things and have no idea how to do so. A voiceover starts, and then the flashback begins. Let me tell you, it is one long flashback. It then goes to Spider-Man facing Venom, who has very unspecific motives. A part of the symbiote inexplicably comes off on Spider-Man, and he just kinda... well, it's not like he doesn't notice, he just doesn't do anything about it. Anyway, Mary Jane breaks her arm, and Spider-Man acts like a little bitch. Seriously, the voice actor isn't bad when he's trying to sound emotionless or cold, but when he wants to convey some sort of feeling, he justs ends up sounding like a bitch. I wish they had gone with some older voice actor, so I could have that sense of familiarity. Anyway, you meet Luke Cage, and for some reason, he has the authority to tell you how to use your spider-powers. He sends you to do some menial tasks, stop a gang war, and do other stuff. Then you meet Black Cat, who for some reason was doing some illegal stuff for the Kingpin. After kicking her ass while she tries to make out with you, you get to make a choice between staying with her, or abandoning her to be a goody-goody two shoes. Anyway, a bunch of random shit happens, and eventually people start acting funny, and by funny, I mean walking on hands and feet, crawling up buildings, and eating other people. Spider-Man beats the shit out of them, and eventually finds out Venom is infecting them with some sort of symbiote. You kick the shit out of Venom, and he leaves, once again not making it clear exactly what he plans to accomplish. You meet Wolverine, you kill more stuff, and eventually SHIELD starts quarantining the place. You fight Electro, who's freaking out because SHIELD took his sister. After a long chase, he gets shot by officers, but gets infected by a symbiote anyway. The whole city ends up covered in symbiotes, and you just need to keep killing them, and at certain points you get to choose whether to take the red suit or black suit path. This can get really interesting, and I was surprized as to how evil you can be if you choose the black suit. For example, at one point Wolverine gets taken over by a symbiote, and after you beat him you get a choice. I chose the black suit, and, to my great shock, Spider-Man picked up Wolverine... And ripped him in half. You then get a shot of Wolverine, with his feet right next to his head. After that I only chose red suit. Anyway, you break the Tinkerer out of prison under the pretense that he'll have the expertise to stop the symbiotes without killing the people. He makes a machine, and you do more menial tasks. Eventually a giant symbiote is blocking the machine, and instead of you being able to make a red/black choice, the game makes it for you, based upon which choices you made earlier. Anyway, you fight a giant Venom, still with no apparent motives other than "rule the world." Turns out Eddie Brock lost control of the symbiote, and once he frees himself, proceeds to kill himself so the symbiote can be destroyed. I got the "bad" ending, where Spider-Man, wearing the black suit, rules over the symbiotes and thus, New York. Yeah, a little depressing.

Overall, the story was pretty good, with a good Good/evil dynamic. Some parts seemed a little weak, and it felt like the cinema scenes didn't always match up, and everyone else had a better voice actor than Spider-Man, but that was easy to forget. What wasn't easy to forget, however, was the gameplay.

The gameplay was, and let me put it bluntly, repetitive. Basically, you pressed Y, threw yourself towards someone, and pressed X until they were dead. Sometimes different timing would yield different results, but you found yourself doing the same thing over and over on the same enemies. Combat was slightly more interesting in that you could fight on the ground, on walls, in the air, and switch between enemies in either of those. They had a nice take on Spider-sense, where you could target enemies with it, or just scan for enemies in a wide radius. Once one enemy was killed, the spider-sense would (at least theoretically) switch to the next one until they were all dead. Thing is, the developers were really into that whole "do this specific thing at this specific point" so, near the beginning, when two gang leaders are having a parley, and there's snipers outside trying to kill them; you have to webzip and hit, then webzip to the next enemy, about 27 times. In a row. If you try to do something different to dispatch the snipers, you fail. This got quite tiring, because I couldn't use the limited range of variability I was provided with. Another thing is the wallcrawling could really mess up the camera, where you want it to point up, but it decides to point sideways, making you run around the building rather than up it. Sometimes, the camera would lock on to an enemy when you want to just go away, and it takes a bit to un-lock.

Another thing is, for most of the game, you're just sent on quests by different contacts to just kill different types of enemies, or to go to a different place. It reminded me of World of Warcraft. I mean, if I wanted to play WoW, I'd play some damn WoW!

The music, in contrast to other parts of the game, was really good. It was reminiscent to Spider-Man 3's music, which I enjoyed, despite my complains to the rest of the movie. It was orchestral, and the black suit parts were quite dynamic. Unfortunately, it was often overshadowed by sound effects, or random characters yelling and stuff. The only time I got a good listen for it was during the end credits.

Overall, SM:WoS was not a bad game. It had one main problem, and that was it's repetitiveness. It had a lot going for it, customizable attack trees, good cinematics, a good story, and a natural new fighting style. If it had extrapolated that throughout the rest of the game, it would have been outstanding.
I give Spider-Man: Web of Shadows a score of

7.5 out of 10.

So yeah, that's my first review in a while, and I had been eager to do it. Anyone played the game and disagreed? Decided not to buy the game? Comment!

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