Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Preview!

The new “Spider-Man: Web of Shadows” video game will make a gamer feel so much like they’ve really stepped into the suit of Marvel Comics’ famous web-slinger, they could debate the finer points of wall-crawling with Tobey Maguire.

Superhero Hype! got an early look at Activision’s latest foray into Spidey’s world and it’s a major thriller, allowing the player an astounding level of control and seemingly endless options as they venture free-roaming into an expansive, stunningly rendered three-dimensional New York City – and not just any NYC, but one set squarely in the Marvel Universe – with an invasion by Venom-style symbiotes overtaking the population – and smack in the midst of a Kingpin-ordered crime wave.

Yeah, there’s THAT much going on, and Spidey has to combat it all at a breathtaking, breakneck pace, taking unprecedented advantage of all of his powers and both of his costumes in every level of the city – on the street, on rooftops, scaling walls and swinging from building to building and pirouetting from bad guy to bad guy. And the hero has a little bit of help here and there – do the words “SNIKT!” and “Sweet Christmas” mean anything to you?

Professional gamers guided us through an Xbox demo of the new game and we were stunned at the level of action and detail that’s been rendered in “Web of Shadows.” Not only does Spidey move through the game with all the speed, strength and agility as the real deal certainly would, it also cleverly uses his Spider-sense to ID and target threats and enemies, and gives him startling and dynamic levels of wall-crawling and web-slinging skills in an enormous playing field that makes the player feel like they’re smack in the middle of the New York cityscape where the action can literally go anywhere. It’s as if the player has been dropped in the middle of the most enormous action scene any of Sam Raimi’s movies could come up with. And throughout the relentless battles, Spider-Man retains that classic Peter Parker sense of humor, spouting a running series of quips and one-liners conceived by comic book writer Brian Reed.

And then there are the suits. As Spidey, the player can choose between either of his famed superhero suits – the classic red-and-blue look and the more menacing black symbiote suit – at ANY moment during the game in a split-second, with each offering a different set of options to suit a specific battle: the classic uniform is big on speed, agility and acrobatics suitable for clashes high above the cityscape, while the black suit is useful when pure strength and power come into play and cars are needed to be tossed at forebidding opponents (and make sure when yanking a baddie out of a robot suit that he’s fully down for the count, or he might climb right back inside). And in keeping with the character’s “patented Parker luck,” there’s a price to pay for donning the darker threads, which makes our hero more volatile and reckless, strikes fear in the hearts of the civilians he’s saving and, as the game wears on, may take an even greater toll on Spider-Man’s soul.

As the citizenry is increasingly overtaken by the invading symbiotes, Spidey also has to face down against the Kingpin’s high-tech minions – armed in everything from giant robotic suits to high-flying Goblin-esque gliders – who are in the midst of a major crime spree just as the Venom invasion goes down. There are also encounters with some familiar characters from Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery, including smacking down the The Vuture soaring in between skyscrapers and chasing down the sultry, slinky (and bodaciously endowed) Black Cat, given voice with a sexy purr by “Battlestar Galactica’s” Tricia Helfer during their string of amusing banter. The demo players treated us to an especially entertaining sequence between Spidey and his alluring enemy, showing just how tough and slippery an opponent she is during game play highlighted by character-driven story sequences that brought the two characters to convincing life.

That’s one of the most fun and engaging elements of “Web of Shadows”: this is Spidey swinging squarely through the Marvel Universe, past buildings labeled with the logos of Iron Man’s Stark Industries, the notorious Roxxon Corporation and Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk’s various holdings (we didn’t spot the landmark Baxter Building, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that’s in there, too). And when Spidey’s in a jam, other Marvel heroes are also on hand to help repel the Venom invasion as well. During our demo, Luke Cage stepped in to help the wall-crawler throw down with a heavily armed gang of the Kingpin’s thugs, and we caught more than a few glimpses of the X-Men’s most famous anti-hero popping his claws in another intense battle sequence which left us wondering: are the superheroes of the Marvel U as susceptible to symbiote control as the general populace, and how each character will react to Spidey depending on whether he’s in red-and-blue hero mode or savage black-suited vigilante style.

Not to put too fine a point on it – we were blown away by the sheer game-playing diversity on display in “Web of Shadows.” The controllability and dynamic abilities of the Spider-Man avatar was stunning, complete with an array of customization that makes game experience utterly unique, and the vast, sweeping landscape of NYC is incredibly impressive, as Spidey’s battles can go from block to block, building to building and ground floor to rooftop as fast as the player can maneuver. The animation and camera moves were as advanced as could be, and every step of the way the game remains dedicated to conveying the character of Spider-Man and the Marvel U.

We also got a demonstration of the portable DS version of “Web of Shadows,” a 2-D playing system that’s no less clever and compelling in its action and storytelling, complete with mini-games and exclusive cameos from characters NOT seem in the more tricked out version: The X-Men’s Nightcrawler “BAMFs” into the action, and there’s another familiar figure from Spidey’s rogue’s gallery that pumpkin-bombs his way into the invasion – but is he friend or foe?

Any Spidey fan with a taste for gaming will find themselves fully immersed in any iteration of the game and become a True Believer. Faithful to the fun-loving and angst-ridden spirit of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and as overflowing with endless action as any of Sam Raimi’s big screen adaptations, “Web of Shadows” earns the adjective “Amazing.” ‘Nuff said.

“Spider-Man: Web of Shadows” will be released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PC, Nintendo DS and Wii on Oct. 21.

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Source: Scott Huver