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Reviewed: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
Required System: PS3, Xbox360, Wii, PC (P4 2.8 or Athlon 2800+, 1 GB RAM, 256 MB Graphics Card)
Overall Rating:
Author: Michael Ahlf
Date: November 17th, 2008


Activision's been doing Spider-Man games for an incredibly long time - their current catalog lists games all the way back through 2001. There have been gems in that list, there are a few stinkers, and there are a decent number of "so-so" mediocre titles.

In recent days, it seemed like they were trying to figure out what the audience wanted in a game, or more to the point, trying to pierce the vapors and divine the infinitesimal essence of something that, for lack of a term, we might call "fun." Spider-Man: The Movie had taken a wild ride of a movie, but hastily dumped it into the patterning of previous games, and never quite gave the thrill that the property deserved. The designers of  Spider-Man 2 had turned around and touched on something ephemeral, something that gamers wanted. It offered, in lieu of the bland "levels" and rigidly focused gameplay of the earlier Spider-Man titles, the ability to travel the whole of Manhattan, to swing merrily past cheering and booing crowds, to right wrongs or simply allow wrongs to happen in the pursuit of certain red-headed ladies instead.

In other words, Spider-Man 2 was the moment when they really found the "fun" of Spidey's world.

Unfortunately for Activision, when they pushed to duplicate this achievement, they fell flat. Ultimate Spider-Man felt rushed. Spider-Man 3 tried its best to re-create the fun of its predecessor, but wound up shooting itself in the foot with some glaring errors, most notably the "button push segments" that have become inconcievably common (and mind-numbingly boring) in far too many major franchises, but also the bizarre, nearly random way in which combat resolution occurred, a phenomenon once described to me by an onlooker as "whoa, is Spidey spazzing out or fighting?"

Enter Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. Something of a move to go back to basics, something of an attempt to strike out on their own... and finally, a game that gets back around to the real goal of a Spider-Man game, which is giving the player the freedom to do what they want while in control of Spidey himself.

Added:  Monday, November 17, 2008
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 1/3

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