Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows [Wii][DS]

Like Treyarch’s other webhead games, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is entirely free-roaming. The island of Manhattan is open for your web-slinging, wall-running pleasure, and it looks fantastic. The graphics are a huge step up from Spider-Man 3 for Wii, the city looks bigger, the animation is smoother, and the character models look more realistic. It also represents a change in how developers see the Wii – In the past, the Wii versions of multi-platform releases often shared code with Playstation 2 releases rather than with other “next-gen” systems. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is one of few titles where the Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 all share the same version of the game, minus a few graphical differences and console exclusives. Unfortunately, it also shares the same flaws.

Web of Shadows falls short on two fronts: storytelling and mission content. After a brief story introduction in the opening cinematic, the plot vanishes for nearly four hours. This might have been forgivable if the interim had been packed with fun, interesting missions instead of forcing the player through dull, repetitive training missions. Hours are spent learning basic moves from Marvel Superheroes and using them to stop a generic gang war. Eventually the story moves on, but poor storytelling and bad cutscenes make it hard to follow. Occasionally, narration will fill you in on the details, but overall the story lacks structure and the learning curve is dreadfully dull.

Flicking the Nunchuk down targets an enemy, and waving it left and right changes between red and black suits – neat, but too sensitive. I often found myself switching suits when I wanted to target, or visa versa. The initial feeling of flicking the Wii Remote to shoot a web feels great, but after swinging across Manhattan and webbing up a few dozen robbers, my wrist was getting pretty sore. Playing for extended periods of time can be physically painful. Navigating the menu is a mess, using the Z, C, plus and minus buttons to select options- it feels awkward, why not simply use a thumbstick or Wii-remote point and click?

It’s not all bad though, once you get used to the controls swinging around the city is as fun as ever, and things really pick up once you grind your way to the main storyline. It’s okay, but bad controls and boring training missions hold this game back. Unless you’re a huge Spider-Fan, rent it first. I give it two out of four stars.

Web of Shadows: DS Review

The DS version of Web of Shadows has everything I love about the Wii version with none of the faults. The animation is smooth, the web-swinging is fun, and the controls are simple. It has a large map you can explore freely and a fun beat’um-up action element. As a 3D side-scrolling explorer reminiscent of Metroid or Castlvainia, Web of Shadows DS shines as a great action platformer, and probably the best handheld spider-man game yet made. Three out of four stars.