Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is fantastic fun even though a few pages have been disappointingly left out.

Dart past a couple panels when flipping through a comic book and you're not likely miss much. Even if there's a page torn out, you can still get through it without much trouble. You might miss out on a minor plot point or get left out of some nuances, but that doesn't make the experience any less enjoyable. A great comic combines stunning artwork with cool characters and an intriguing plot - it's a sum greater than the parts. That's the spin on Spidey's newest adventure.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows breaks down into three acts, the first of which moves pretty slow. You slip into Spidey's suit as gang tensions reach an all-time high, prompting you to work with Luke Cage to quell the conflict.

For several hours you'll square off against street thugs intended to introduce you to the game's wide-ranging combat system and movement mechanics. It isn't until you move to the second act when you begin to face a legion of symbiote foes and super-powered bosses that the game really hits its stride.

Fighting these enemies requires an intimate understanding of the controls and wielding Spidey's arsenal of moves to great effect, which explains the slow, instructive start. Beyond swinging through the crowded streets of Manhattan, you're able to engage in fisticuffs on the ground, midair, and even vertically on walls.

All of this occurs seamlessly - you can punch a symbiote toward a building, then take it to task with a wall combo, and finish the sucker off with an aerial blow. It's fast, incredibly stylish, and totally fun. Things get worked up into a greater frenzy when facing bosses that run the gamut from deranged superhero to super-charged villain. These are some killer boss battles and they do much to save Web of Shadows from a slate of shortcomings.

NEXT PAGE: too buggy to be a spider

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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is fantastic fun even though a few pages have been disappointingly left out.

Too buggy to be a spider

Chief among the game's flaws are crippling bugs that either force you to restart a mission or reset the console. They're completely random and utterly annoying. Having to restart an entire mission because the enemy you have to defeat gets stuck in a wall is frustrating.

At least you have the ability to reset your console whenever you hit one of these glitches. Facing the erratic camera, however, is something you just have to deal with. No solution here - the camera takes on bizarre angles when swinging through the city and climbing walls.

You learn to predict the camera's behaviour when climbing up walls, for example; yet, it frequently sticks to those angles even after you've stopped clambering up walls. The camera often takes on odd perspectives that hinder your view, which in turn makes it difficult to navigate the city and fight enemies. Holding down the left trigger/L2 button allows you to lock onto a target, but that can complicate matters more than help them in some situations.

The inconsistency that rocks the camera can also be observed in the visuals, which take on an uneven quality. Characters look fantastic and there are a number of impressive scenes, particularly in the later half of the game. That comes at the cost of a smooth performance, though.

Later stages that pack the screen with hordes of symbiotes or loads of special effects cause the game to stutter significantly. By the time you reach those points in the game, though, you'll have fallen in love with the combat system. Spidey's adventure gets entangled in a number of silly issues, but the action is so satisfying that you're likely to skim over them just as you would those few panels in a comic book.

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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows: Specs

  • Windows PC
  • Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Microsoft Xbox 360
  • Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
  • Windows PC
  • Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Microsoft Xbox 360
  • Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS

OUR VERDICT

Awesome action makes up for several shortcomings including a dodgy camera and random technical glitches. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows delivers the best combat system of any Spider-Man game to date and intense boss battles to go with it. An imperfect effort, but an entertaining one nonetheless.

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