Monday, 3 February 2014

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows part 1

Analysing Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, part 1 This week on Highbrow-Lowbrow is Spider-Man week. Spider-Man was my all-time favourite character as a kid all the way up to me late teens, right up until the writers messed with the character and backstory beyond all recognition, and around the time the Marvel Studios movies showed me how awesome character like Iron Man and Captain America are. So, why is this Spider-Man week? Just because.

One of my favourite bloggers, Shamus Young, often writes in-depth reviews of videogames, analysing the story and critiquing each aspect of the game, and they are a joy to read.

Inspired, Spider-Man week is going to be celebrated with a week-long ridiculously in-depth review of the 2008 Spider-Man game, Web of Shadows. It wasn't a great game, but I devoted a note inconsiderable chunk of time to the game, and thought I'd share my thoughts on the game, which developed into a 3,000 word thesis on the bloody thing.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was released in 2008 by publishers Activision, who also published the Spider-Man: The Movie game tie-ins, as well as Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, and the DS and PS1 Spider-Man games. After roughly a dozen iterations, Activision is still making mistakes that prevent this games from becoming true classics, the closest to perfection being Spider-Man 2: The Movie: The Game


Web of Shadows returns to the open world format introduced to the series in Spider-Man 2, but is more closely related to Spider-Man 3 as one of the games big selling points is the ability to choose between the Classic Red-suit spidey or the Symbiotic Black Suit.

Web of Shadows begins with New York devasted, as S.H.I.E.L.D. troopers, superheroes and supervillains fight an invasion of alien symbiotes, the creatures that once gave our hero Spidey enhanced powers, until it bonded with Eddie Brock, creating the infamous villain Venom and later Carnage.

Anyway, after a short tutorial where the player, as Spider-Man, battles symbiotes, Spidey is knocked out and has a flashback to a few days before the invasion. The game begins fully from this point with Spidey half-way through a battle with his nemesis Venom, when suddenly, part of Venom's symbiote jumps across and attaches itself to our hero. Now, with a choice of two suits and two different play styles, Spider-Man must swing around New York, saving its citizens and discover the truth behind the Invasion.

Exciting huh?

Well, we should hope so, as the game developers made a big point about how this was an "original" storyline, and was not tied to any previous comic or movie tale. The game developers also stressed the moral choice system of the game, with multiple cut scenes and endings, based on being "Good" and using the Red-suit, or being "Bad" and using the Black-suit.

Cynics will claim that having these two branching paths of "Good" and "Evil"
simply force the player to complete the game a second time to see the alternative endings. Non-cynics should probably say the same thing...

The Wii version is basically exactly the same as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, except for a slight graphical step-down (more on this later) and executing attacks on the other consoles will be easier (and less harmful to ones wrists) and the game itself is fun, enjoyable and certainly addictive. I certainly keep coming back to it and lose hours at a time by playing the game. Yet it still has significant problems which detract from the experience, some specific to the Wii version and other problems shared by all three versions.

To be continued...tomorrow!

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