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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Fighting/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

There are times when I am on the verge of feeling ashamed to own a DS because of its lack of visual ability, but every once in a while, a title comes along that changes my mind. One such title is Marvel and Activision's Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. The play screen looks great, with a mix of what appears to be pseudo-3D environments (this is a side-scroller, after all) with 2D characters. While I'm not a fan of cel-shading in general (it's hard to know if Spidey is rendered this way or if it is truly two dimensional because the characters are rather small on the screen), in cases where developers are bringing comic books to life, it is a great visual style. Web of Shadows does a great justice in visual quality.

As far as animations go, this game hands me mixed feelings. While the animations are too sometimes too over the top, even for a superhero, the also play perfectly with the gameplay. Spider-Man will actually be able to hover in mid-air as he performs certain moves, which really goes against the fact that Spidey is a guy in a suit, yet it is perfectly acceptable from a playability standpoint, namely because it is fun.

When it comes to the game's audio, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is also top-notch. I was extremely impressed with the environmental audio. In fact, with some of the nonsense that sometimes comes along on the DS, this title puts them to shame. Grab some earphones to get the most from the ambient sounds and stereo awareness... you will undoubtedly enjoy the game a whole lot more. The voiceovers are quite cheesy most of the time, however, but sometimes you may get a chuckle. It's just unfortunate that the voice of Spider-Man seems more childish than it should.


Punch. Kick. Swing. Repeat. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows has very repetitious gameplay to say the least. For some of you out there, it will get quite old, quite fast. For others, your tired old fingers will possibly ache in pain from the button-mashing (you know who you are -- like me!) that is associated with this title. However, I have a feeling that many of you super-hero fans out there will enjoy every last spring in the buttons of your handheld system. There are a ton of enemies to fight, and just when you knock off one, three more enter the screen. The thing that makes this type of combat enjoyable is in the number of moves and combos that you can pull off.

In Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, you'll unlock different combination moves that allow you to rack up multiple hits, making short work of all of the baddies on-screen at once. By also implementing your built-in moves, you can manage the onslaught with relative ease, although it will likely be somewhat commonplace that your health will run out on occasion after getting past the initial learning curve.

Web of Shadows actually has you fighting Symbiotes as you chase Venom, and teases you with visual sightings of him along the way. One of the cool features of this Spider-Man title is that you can switch between the red and blue hero and his alter ego, the black suit. With each come slightly different abilities. For example, the standard Spidey can sling webbing to temporarily tie up foes, while black Spider-Man has the ability to dash across the screen, knocking enemies over as he hits them. Both heroes can stick to nearly any surface, which makes Web of Shadows sometimes feel like an even more fast-paced title that it may actually be. In fact, another area of the game that I have mixed feelings about is Spider-Man's ability to stick to everything. Sometimes the areas can be a bit tight and you'll find yourself jumping to avoid an enemy, only to stick to a wall or ceiling accidentally. The same thing often happens when you attempt to swing from the ceiling, release, and then swing again. The timing can be very tricky, and most of the time, you'll end up hanging upside down from the roof. The upside to all of this is that once you get used to it, you can actually shoot across the screen like a bullet and, in a sense, confuse your enemies with quick attacks from above or from the sides.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows also allows you to interact with certain environmental objects, which is a nice touch for the dirty streets and sewers that you are roaming. You'll be able to pick up objects to use as projectiles against enemies, and will even be able to sling a web to grab them from a distance. After some time, you will also be able to interact with heavier objects that may impede your progress and allow you to pass to the next section of the level. Because the game is extremely small and just as short, you'll re-explore areas that were previously inaccessible. There are also many save points throughout the game, so it is best to save often. When you lose your health, a touch-screen mini-game will come up, having you grab as many health orbs as possible to regain some of your lost life. But if you fail too many times, you'll have to start from your last save point. Good thing you saved often!


Spider-Man: Web of Shadows isn't so much difficult as it is intense. The enemies in this game aren't exactly very strong or hard to beat when by themselves, in fact. However, when you start to get four or five foes on-screen at the same time, the difficulty of fighting without losing health goes up. If you happen to get caught in the middle between multiple baddies, you'll have to take advantage of Spider-Man's combos and web-slinging or dashing abilities to make a dent in their forces.

While controlling Spidey does feel like a lot of button-mashing at times, there actually is some rhyme and reason to it all. As you progress, you can unlock new combo moves, some of which belong solely to the red suit and some that can only be used by with the black suit, while still others that can be used by either. These combos will help you out tremendously as you progress, keeping the overall game difficulty at a minimum.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is the type of game that can be played by just about anyone. Younger children will be able to fight off the hordes through simple button presses, although maybe not as easily as someone who remembers and uses combination moves. Older gamers will love the simple complexity that is involved in navigating and launching yourself around while whooping bad guy behind.

Game Mechanics:

Web of Shadows really is easy to get into, but is still enjoyable enough for a wide range of gamers. The DS's face buttons are all used, for jumping and swinging, grabbing with your web, melee combat, and interacting with objects. While it did take a small learning curve to remember which button was what, it won't take long until you're able to take down Venom's bad guys. Switching between the two versions of Spider-Man is as easy as clicking the shoulder button, so the number of combinations that can be performed almost feels amplified and effectively using both during combat will give you a satisfaction that you just can't get with only one playable character.

In addition to the standard controls, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows does make use of the touch screen, although in terms of the Nintendo DS, it is relatively little. When your health depletes, you'll be prompted to play a quick mini-game of orb-grabbing to replenish your life blood. If you go slowly, you will only recover a small amount of health, but if you grab the orbs quickly, you can actually refill your health completely. After a few times of falling into these low-health situations, however, your game will be over and it will require a restart from your last save point. Save points are numerous, however, so there should be no excuse for forgetting to save often.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a solid title that I'm sure many will enjoy, whether because of the action-based side-scrolling or because of the Spider-Man name associated with it. While this game does feel like a mindless button-masher, there is still a strong sense of satisfaction and playability in Web of Shadows for the DS. Solid audio and nice visuals help drive this one home. It's unfortunate that the game offers very little in terms of gameplay time (potentially as low as four hours), otherwise Spider-Man: Web of Shadows would be a knockout.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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