Oct 17, 2014

Video Game Spotlight on Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Welcome back to A Dose of Venom's Video Game Spotlight segment. Today, we shall explore one of my all-time favorite Spider-Man and symbiote video games, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (Xbox 360 edition). Developed by Treyarch and Shaba Games and published by Activision in 2008 for almost every platform available back then, this game was perhaps one of the most exciting for symbiote fans because half of the game's campaign revolved around a city-wide symbiote invasion and players could switch between Spidey's classic red-and-blue costume and his powerful black symbiote costume freely.

Use Gamefly to play Spider-Man: Web of Shadows anytime on any gaming system
Now, I loved this game when I first played it, and still love it even to this day. I know it has some mechanical issues (especially with wall crawling and targeting enemies) and people have their gripes with the voice acting, but I felt it was a solid game with a fun story at the time. There is a morality system to the gameplay as well that pretty much started the morality trend later seen in other Spider-Man games (including the recent The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game adaptation, though that one had a comparatively dumbed down version). The morality system allows players to make one of two decisions during select cutscenes—depicted as "Red Suit" (good) or "Black Suit" (evil) decisions—which would ultimately decide which of the four ending cutscenes the player would experience in the campaign's conclusion. The morality decisions are set up as instances in which either Peter Parker or the symbiote was in control of his actions.

Wait, where did Spidey get the symbiote suit from, though? He gains his alternate suit shortly after the introductory level in which the game throws the player in media res during the symbiote invasion as Parker's narrative (voiced by Mike Vaughn) explains how everything began with a fight against Venom (Eddie Brock, voiced by Keith Szarabajka). During their fight, Venom's symbiote tries to bond with Spidey again, but the process is interrupted and Spidey escapes with a fragment of the symbiote. From then on, players can switch between the red and black suits, each of which possesses unique abilities and stats. The red suit is super agile and fast and executes web-oriented attacks while the black suit is all about power and symbiote-oriented attacks.

Read the origin of Spider-Man's iconic living black costume in Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars #8 available digitally for Android and iOS devices via comiXology

Both of Spider-Man's costumes are beautiful, neo-classic representations of their comic book counterparts, and the symbiote costume has a black base color with an indigo sheen. The ability to switch between costumes at any time really helped to sell the game to me, and I definitely felt the power of the symbiote suit whenever I used it (which was much more often than the red suit).

Venom is pretty cool in this game, as he's most definitely the classic Brock version—he even calls his symbiote "the other." You can't get much more Venom than that! The character design is passable, even if the spider symbols on his chest and back aren't that great and his white hand patches are missing. The little detail of Brock's mouth at the back of Venom's throat as seen in the video below made up for it, though, and was a very interesting take on how Brock integrated with the symbiote.


The first half of the campaign is pretty much inconsequential to Venomaniacs, as Venom only ever shows up once in a while as the mystery behind how Spidey came to possess the symbiote suit thickens. Players battle a host of classic villains, including the Vulture, Rhino, and Electro, as well as work with a team of heroic and villainous characters, including Mary Jane Watson, Luke Cage, Black Cat, Wolverine, Moon Knight (another favorite character of mine, and done very well in this game), Black Widow, the Tinkerer, and the Kingpin. Players are able to summon some of the superheroes and villains during combat for assists, as well. All of it, though, is setup for the third and most exciting act: the symbiote invasion of New York City!

The Venom symbiote takes control of Brock as it learns how to replicate itself on a massive scale, and New York is quickly overrun by its own citizens possessed by symbiotes. Spider-Man and his heroic friends work with Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. to help evacuate uninfected citizens to quarantine zones, but their nightmares become realized when their allies and enemies are taken over as well. Players get to battle symbiotic versions of Black Cat (who receives a special second symbiotic form for those playing with a darker morality), Wolverine, Vulture, and Electro, each of whom have pretty bad-ass character designs. There was even a symbiotic Moon Knight planned, but he didn't make it into the game outside of concept art featured in the end credits. Of course, let's not forget the awesome character designs for all of the symbiote minions—of which there were many variations—and the endgame boss: a giant multi-headed Venom.


(Start the video at 8:50 for the symbiote Wolverine fight.)

Depending on players' morality choices made throughout the game, two of the four endings left the game open for a sequel as Spidey becomes completely overtaken by the symbiote and takes command of the symbiote hordes. There was a sequel planned, as evidenced by the release of some concept art that even included Carnage, but the game never panned out due to a lukewarm reception of the first one and the production of the more successful Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Despite its flaws and glitches, though, I personally believe the game possesses a high replayability rate, and I occasionally dust off the disc for another fond go-around.

If you're looking for an open-world Spider-Man video game with plenty of symbiotic action for your buck, you can't go wrong with Web of Shadows. It's a definite must-buy for the avid Venomaniac game collector. What did you think about the game? Who had the coolest symbiote costume? What more would you have liked to see in this game? Let us know in the comments section below, and, as always, check back in at A Dose of Venom every Friday for a new article!

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