Sunday, July 7, 2013

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008) X-box 360

Rating: 3 out of 5 Hours Spent Web Swinging

Plot Synopsis:  Venom shows up and somehow causes a symbiote invasion that you have to stop.

The Good:

-Swinging through the city is very fun.  That alone brings this from a 2 to a 3, I felt really involved in the motion unlike the Amazing Spider-Man game.  You can cling to walls, perform acrobatic bounces, run on walls, web zip and even web swinging feels really easy and it’s all pretty easy to link together.  There were times where things got frustrating, mostly in trying to be pin point accurate, but for basic locomotion it’s really fun.  Even the animation for the swings is just really pretty to watch.  You can change how you web swing and go for speed by using acceleration and timing when you let go and you can get going really fast which causes the visuals to change slightly to accommodate.  You can change the timing of letting go and easily climb in elevation.  You can go for a casual swing using long swings, pole swings and cling jumps or something more artistic with fast swings, web zips, wall runs, pole swings and the acrobatic bounces.  It really feels like an old Tony Hawk game in the way you can string awesome stuff together.  It’s a little toned down compared to Spider-Man 2 but it’s the closest thing to that there is.

-Moon Knight is in it, I like Moon Knight and I rarely get the pleasure of seeing him since he’s treated as a barely contained psycho in the comic world.  In the comics everyone seems to know he’s a totally unstable violent psychopath and they keep away from him so it’s weird to see him in something this mainstream.

-There are a couple of great battles.  The Vulture fight is pretty interesting, as is the Black Cat fight.

-Some of the interaction with the other heroes is pretty great, especially with Wolverine who is especially cantankerous in this.

-There are two modes, Spider-Man red and Spider-Man black.  They are both very different styles and can change up the game quite a bit.  Black suit Spider-Man feels incredibly strong and powerful while red suit Spider-Man is quick and acrobatic.

-Every major plot point has a good choice and a bad choice.  I only made good choices so I don’t know what that means for the game but I doubt I’ll ever play through this thing again as a bad guy so who knows how much that changes the game.

The Bad:

-Combat gets really repetitive, it’s basically one button and I had real trouble getting combos to happen consistently so I gave up and just constantly mashed the button and let whatever happen happen.

-There is a lot of emphasis put on this web pounce ability where at a touch of a button you leap into the air, shoot a web line at an enemy and pounce on them.  However I could not get this to work consistently, most of the time the enemy would block me or counter me and just leave me hurting so I stopped using it.

-Most of the boss battles are just wars of attrition where you just exchange punches until one of you is left standing.  It gets very boring.

-When it comes to pretty much anything but the web swinging this game gets really boring and repetitive.  That’s the thing I spent the most time doing, I really only finished the game hoping to open up the world back to a pre-symbiote invasion state so I could go back to web swinging.  Such is not the case because…

-…after the game is done if you continue the game loads at the credits.

-Quick time events show up randomly and if you fail you start over at the beginning of the scene.  The worst example of this was the final cutscene which has four QTE’s.  The scene is so long and the events are so far apart that missing one means minutes of time lost.  Which may not sound like a lot until you miss several in a row like I did.  Why not just start a little bit before the next button press, why start all the way at the beginning?  It would be more forgivable if the game’s story was a bit more compelling.

The Ugly:

-The sound cuts out during cuts scenes.  Sometimes you won’t hear an entire side of dialog.

Final Thoughts:  When I got to the scene called “Final Showdown” I said to myself “I’m not in the mood for this bullshit.” And shut it off.  If everything else in this game was any indication this battle was going to be long and tedious and frustrating.  So I turned it off and found something better to do.  I played Skyrim until I was ready to come back to it.  I was of course right, the final battle was all those things I thought it would be but I wanted to open up the city for web slinging.  Of course that didn't happen. 

But that is the game in a nutshell for me.  Speeding through plot points when I got bored of web slinging so I could get back to web slinging.  There’s really nothing special to see in the game and the unlockable moves are incredibly limited.  You unlock a base set of moves and abilities early on and the rest of the game is spent unlocking either an extra hit in the combo string or more power for that established move.  The battles are, for the most part, tedious; combat gets very tiresome and the story just isn’t compelling enough to really move you forward.  Top that off with a seemingly half assed assist mechanic (using the team up never really did much for me and all the characters seem interchangeable as far as ability) and you don’t really have much to keep you interested.  Other than the web slinging, which is the second or third best mechanic I’ve experienced (Spider-Man 2 and 3 may be tied for best but if you include the poses you could do in Spider-Man 2 then Spider-Man 2 has the deepest mechanic with equal fun value) so if you can get into that then this game is worth playing.  If that isn’t something you think would interest you that much then I would stay away.

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