Back when the Wii was first revealed in 2006 and everyone started brainstorming ideas about the sort of games that the exciting new control system might suit, one of our first thoughts was Spider-Man. Using the Remote and Nunchuk to web sling your way through New York? It sounded awesome to us.
So when the decidedly rancid Spider-Man 3 dropped in our laps last year you can't blame us for being extremely disappointed. It was unfinished, ugly, tedious and the controls were dismal. Fast forward 12 months and we have Web Of Shadows. Without the constraints of a movie license to hold them back we hoped that Activision might be able to right the myriad wrongs with their last effort and deliver the game that Spidey fans deserve. Have they managed it? Unfortunately, not quite.
First up, the positives. It's a far, far better game than Spider-Man 3. While it's still no beauty - there's some nasty pop-up and the frame rate chugs along at times - visually it's a step up from its predecessor. The controls are better too and this is where the game really excels.
Most importantly, swinging through the huge city is a joy, with a downward flick of the Remote slinging your webs from building to building. The combat system is nicely nuanced and in-depth too. The B button offers a standard punch attack which you can level up by unlocking new moves. Z fires a web projectile and a downward swipe puts Spidey's heel into a foes face. Aside from that, there are a range of moves assigned to various waggles which can be chained to pull off some really satisfying combos.
It's a satisfying and relatively sophisticated system but one that's wasted on some unbelievably stupid foes. Yes, you can take the time to unleash an intricate barrage of attacks on an enemy but it's quicker and easier to just wade in with some button-mashing.
Punch, Swing, Repeat
And here's the game's biggest problem - it's extremely repetitive and, for the most part, very easy. There is a semblance of plot (some doggerel about Venom and an evil black goo attacking the city's civilians) but it's incomprehensible at best, giving way to mission after mission of beating up a set number of bad guys. There's the odd boss fight thrown in that throws up a little bit more of a challenge but as soon as you realise you just have to run away and hide for 10 seconds to see your energy fully replenished, they too are a push over.
There's a host of familiar faces to meet along the way - indeed, almost every character from the comic books shows up at some point - but the dialogue is so limp and the combat so samey that even this latent fan-service fails to inject much character into proceedings.
There is some fun to be had swinging your way through the city and bumping bad guy skulls together; it's just a shame the whole package wasn't stitched together with a little more flair and imagination. There's a great game struggling to get out here, but alas, as it stands, this is a frustrating missed opportunity.