The highlight of day two at GC so far has definitely been the 45 minutes I spent playing Spider-Man, Web of Shadows while chatting with associate producer Brian Morrison about the game, games past, and all things Spider-Man. Brian is no stranger to the series, having worked on the excellent Spider-Man 2, the relatively amazing Ultimate Spider-Man, and...Spider-Man: Friend or Foe. The look I gave him as he revealed that last one prompted a quick "It's a kids' game" from Morrison, but as far as I am concerned the man should be in charge of anything Spider-Man related coming out of Activision from here on out. As I left the session I asked for his card, and the guy pulls out a battered Spider-Man Velcro wallet.
It's that kind of passion that is going into Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, which from what I saw will mark a rebirth of the franchise after the abysmal Spider-Man 3.
This is a Spider-Man game of the giant sandbox variety taken to the next level. Developers Shaba and Treyarch have done wonders with the webcrawler. The game is based on the comics, featuring Spidey in his classic cloth suit, without a hint of the ribbed for her pleasure movie version. Those of you favouring a darker, more powerful superhero can slip on his all-black symbiote suit at will, trading in the agile jumper for more of a powerful tank character. You can choose a suit to level up or work on both equally, unlocking combos that switch from one to the other in mid-attack.
Spider-Man has been beefed up from previous games, bringing him more in line with the comic book version. Comics Spidey can lift 10 tons, so punching through a brick wall really shouldn't be a problem. In Web of Shadows it isn't. You can kick and punch a car in the street until it explodes, or in the symbiote suit you can just pick them up and toss them. I spent a good chunk of my playtime cackling with glee as taxi cabs exploded around me, causing chaos in the streets of New York.
While running around and swinging all over the city could easily keep me occupied for hours upon hours, Shaba has managed to bring the fighting in the game right up to speed with exploration. While I found combat in the first sever Spider-Man titles to be adequate, combat in Web of Shadows is actually quite dynamic and fun. You can fight on the ground, in the air, and even on the sides of buildings, bringing to mind a Winston Churchill quote that probably wouldn't be appropriate given the setting of the convention.
Oh, and the best thing about Spider-Man: Web of Shadows? When Spidey falls into water, he swims. I checked. As I headed towards the water, Brian had this funny smile on his face. He knew where I was going. One of the biggest complaints about Spider-Man 2 was water causing instant death. Apparently New York has cleaned that mess up a bit since then.
I've watched the development of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows warily, biding my time until I could get my hands on it before getting excited about the second coming of the franchise. Consider me officially excited.