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Video Game / Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a 2008 video game starring Spider-Man (Mike Vaughn) as he tries to stop Venom (Keith Szarabajka) and his symbiote army from taking over New York, and is helped by Moon Knight (Robin Atkin Downes), Wolverine (Steve Blum), Black Widow (Salli Saffioti) and Luke Cage (Robert Wisdom).

The game takes notes from the Wide-Open Sandbox of Spider-Man 2: The Game, ironing out the flaws introduced there and adding an evolving environment that gradually turns New York's appearance into that of a symbiote-entrenched alien world. The gameplay involves an in-depth combat system similar to Spider-Man 2's as well as changes in web-swinging mobility that actually allow aerial battles and wall-crawling battles to be fun. The Symbiote Suit/Red Suit duality is back from Spider-Man 3, with each suit having its own distinct playstyle and with the ability instantly change between them even in the midst of battle to switch up combos. The variety of combat options and the ease in switching between the different modes of combat means battles are extremely dynamic.

The game was often touted by advertisements and previews as delivering the "complete" experience of being Spider-Man. The console game is considered one of the best Spider-Man games in recent history to fans, but most critics found it So Okay, It's Average due to graphical and sound flaws, as well as some repetitive main- and side-quests.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Commands: Of the Press X to Not Die variety, mostly found during cutscenes and after boss fights.
  • Action Girl: Mary Jane. Rather than being the Damsel in Distress, she actually takes part in the boss fight against Symbiote Black Cat, blasting away at symbiotes with her shotgun from a hovercraft. She also fires that shotgun with essentially one hand, as her right arm is broken.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Played with and addressed by Spider-Man, stating that Venom is acting nothing like himself and is disregarding the very innocents he swore to protect. However, Venom in this case was really Drunk with Power, and he undergoes a Heel Realization at the end. The PS2/PSP version, however, plays this as straight as a line, featuring most likely the most evil incarnation of Venom to date in any media.
  • A.I. Breaker: The last two bosses of the Nintendo DS version are Those Two Bosses of the game, until you start Whoring two of the most basic moves in the game. Venom, the penultimate boss, can be beaten simply by standing on either the lower edge on the far left or on the other on the far right, and then keeping shooting webs, causing Venom to be slammed to the ground, while the Final Boss can be beaten by... wait for it... kicking him by spamming web-swinging. So much for the "final boss".
  • Alliterative Name: Peter Parker. It is Spider-Man, after all.
  • Always Save the Girl: Peter is given the choice of either turning Black Cat over to SHIELD after she's badly injured following her second boss fight, or bonding her with a symbiote to heal her.
  • Animal Motifs: Obviously — Spidey, Black Widow, Rhino, Vulture, Black Cat, and so on...
  • Ax-Crazy: Venom, when Eddie's not in control, decides to take over the world by bonding everyone to symbiotes.
  • Badass Boast: Spider-Man after getting the symbiote near the beginning of the game.
    Spider-Man: Venom, get ready for a world of pain!
  • Badass Bookworm: Peter is one of the more nerdy superheroes, but he's also a Grade A certified badass.
  • Badass Normal: Moon Knight, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, and Mary Jane have no powers, but that doesn't stop them from kicking butt.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mary Jane and Black Cat vie indirectly over Peter's affections, with Mary Jane wanting him to lead a normal life and Black Cat wanting him to turn to the dark side.
  • Big Bad: Venom, up until his Heel–Face Turn and Heroic Sacrifice.
    • The Symbiote Leader in the DS version.
  • Bishōnen Line: Black Cat, when first infected by a symbiote, looks frightening in appearance and power, but does not have control. When Spider-Man infects her with his own symbiote, Black Cat retains her human appearance, and gains a Stripperiffic costume even more revealing than the costume before and has become more powerful to illustrate the complete control of her symbiote.
  • Brick Joke: When Spider-Man talks with Luke Cage about ending the gang violence in Harlem, he mentions that, growing up in the relatively peaceful Queens, he probably wouldn't have any idea what it was like on the streets. Later, when arranging a meeting between the rival gang leaders, this exchange occurs.
    Spider-Man: Now, be there, or be square.
    Gang leader: "Be square"?! Are you from Queens or something?
  • Broad Strokes: Despite being unrelated to the Sam Raimi Trilogy and taking place in an already established Marvel Universe, the game could be seen as taking place after Spider-Man 3. Due to certain nods to the Trilogy (see Mythology Gag below) as well as sharing 3D Models, Tweaked Mechanics and Animations from the Spider-Man 3 Video Game. In that sense, it is similar to the 2005 Punisher Game.
  • Building Swing: As always, the main mechanic of traversing NYC.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Kingpin taunts Spider-Man after he loses Mary Jane, leading to Spider-Man almost unleashing the symbiote on him.
  • Byronic Hero: Spidey is at his whiniest and most troubled here.
  • Car Fu: The super-powered variant, but Spidey can only use it while in Symbiote mode — presumably, he has too much restraint otherwise.
  • Cat Girl: Black Cat, naturally, as both her costume and alias are intended to invoke it.
  • Chest Insignia: Spidey and Venom have spiders and Moon Knight has a moon.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Black Cat is clearly getting turned on during her first fight with Spider-Man, and accuses him of also enjoying it more than he lets on.
  • Comic-Book Time: Luke Cage defends his old costume by pointing out it was the '70s... in a game released in 2008. That this would presumably make Luke middle-aged is not addressed.
  • Continuity Nod: During the fight with Wolverine he begins asking questions about Spider-Man's comics history to confirm he's the real Spider-Man and not under the symbiote's influence. Such questions include who declined to join the New Avengers (the answer is Daredevil), whose killers they tracked in Berlin (Ned Leeds), and who served them roast and pie (Aunt May).
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Kingpin has enough high-tech weaponry to make Tony Stark jealous; his garden-variety thugs are equipped with Goblin gliders, Powered Armor, and Mini-Mecha. What do they use it for? Robberies and vandalizing city hall. And we thought his guards having laser guns was improbable!
  • Dark Is Evil: The more Black Suit choices the player makes, the more sinister and aggressive Spider-Man becomes.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Spider-Man himself is this if the player primarily has him use the Black Suit's powers but otherwise follow the Red Suit path.
  • Dating Catwoman: Black Cat initially shows up in the game working for Kingpin because she is still in love with Spider-Man and did it to help him from the inside. Problem is, he's currently married to Mary Jane. Over the course of the game, she gets infected with a symbiote, and the option is actually given to choose her over Mary Jane, especially in the "Black Suit" storyline.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Spidey is the ultimate master of cracking sarcastic jokes, of course, but several other characters get in on the gig as well.
  • Destructive Saviour: Spidey tends to cause a whole lot of damage to the city while he's fighting bad guys.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Tinkerer's demands to build the sonic bomb include a specific girl from a tool catalog.
  • Dumb Muscle: Rhino, as always. In fact he may be at his dumbest, as the good choice when dealing with him is to tell him the exit to the Raft is back the way he came. Rhino falls for it.
  • Enemy Mine: Spider-Man is forced to team up with Rhino, Vulture and the Tinkerer to put a stop to the symbiotes.
    • Also he has to team up with Kingpin and his men, along with 2 of the street gangs he was fighting against earlier in the game when the city is overrun by the symbiotes.
  • Emergency Transformation: When Black Cat is badly injured following their second fight, Spider-Man can choose to either give her to S.H.I.E.L.D. for medical treatment (Red Suit path) or bond a symbiote to her (Black Suit path).
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Venom has a guttural, growling voice befitting his monstrous appearance. Venomzilla's voice, however, is much deeper.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Spider-Man in the Evil Endings. Black Cat as well if you choose her over Mary Jane.
  • Fallen Hero: Spidey takes over the symbiotes in the Black Suit endings.
  • Final Boss Preview: In the DS version, while exploring Residential finding Eddie Brock's apartment, you can at one point see the legs of The Symbiote Leader standing on a dumpster. When you enter the next room, it abducts an uninfected woman with its tentacle-like tendrils.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The game's Halfway Plot Switch to the symbiote invasion. The player knows they won't be dealing with a mere crime wave the entire story.
  • Foreshadowing: In two missions, you protect / attack a gang leader in order to convince / force him to consider an end to the gang war. In both areas, you can find graffiti tributes to two important gang members who were killed. Both gangs believe the other to be responsible for their deaths and want to take revenge on the other because of it. The game only draws attention to one of these graffitis, with a conversation about that very topic taking place in front of it, while the other mission oddly enough lacks any cutscene at the end, making it easy to miss the second graffiti. But the fact that both gangs lost someone in similar ways at around the same is explained shortly afterwards - neither gang is responsible for starting the war.
  • From Bad to Worse: One of the central themes to the story was how quickly the symbiote infection seemed to spread. Made apparent when, after unwillingly giving Spider-Man back the symbiote in the beginning of the story, without losing his, Venom soon realised he could reproduce the symbiote and do the same to others. After that, it literally takes one night before things get out of control.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The Black Suit is extremely powerful, and, in the eyes of some players, makes many fights much easier than if you just used the Red Suit. It gives the player the very temptation of incredible power that it gives Pete himself.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Oddly, this can happen with the alignment meter - with the red suit/black suit choices the player can be a perfect boy scout or a real bastard, but as long as the player simply uses the black suit or red suit respectively in actual gameplay most of the time they will still quickly go to that suit's alignment regardless.
    • MJ is furious at you in the prologue for using the symbiote after having promised to stop, but if you're sticking to the Red Suit path, that won't have actually happened - conveniently, when you actually reach that point in the story the prologue's events are only covered via montage, presumably in the hopes that players will have forgotten about the discrepancy.
  • Genius Bruiser: Given how strong and fast Spider-Man is, it's easy to forget that he is one of the smartest characters in the Marvel universe.
  • Guide Dang It!: There's a boss fight against Wolverine that involves him asking trivia questions based on the comics. If you're not up to date on Spider-Man lore, you'll accidentally increase your black meter even if you want to be a good guy.
  • Guttural Growler: Logan has his traditional gruff voice, but Spider-Man also drops his voice an octave and adds a menacing note to it when using his symbiote.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: If you pick the Black Suit option after beating Symbiote-Wolverine, Spidey will tear him in half, Hulk-vs-Wolverine-style. It's given a Gory Discretion Shot, but damn.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The story starts out with Spider-Man and several other street-level heroes like Luke Cage and Moon Knight dealing with a crime wave and gang war. Then the symbiotes start infecting everybody and things suddenly get a whole lot worse.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Eddie redeems himself, and turns good to help stop Venomzilla in the Red Suit path.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Eddie Brock/Venom throws himself into the Helicarrier's turbine in the Red Suit path.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: No matter how heroically Spider-Man behaves in the black suit, New York citizens will still react with fear and loathing when they see him.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A lot of the Black Suit choices involves this, including letting the two gang leaders kill each other, violently beating Electro, ripping Wolverine in half, and tossing Venom into the turbine instead of letting him make the choice himself.
  • High-Altitude Battle: The Symbiote Vulture boss battle cranks this trope to epically extreme levels as, considering the fact that you're Spidey, the battle takes place high above New York and quickly becomes a warzone when SHIELD troops arrive... and there is no ground. Therefore, you'll have to swing across hovercrafts and use air combos and web strikes on the Vulture and his mooks to keep up in the sky. Speaking of which, the game's final mission and boss is on the SHIELD Helicarrier, high above New York City.
  • How We Got Here: The game begins with Spider-Man desperately searching for MJ and Luke Cage in a Symbiote-Infested New York City. He eventually does find them, but is soon attacked by an unknown figure. The story flashes back four days prior to the incident.
  • In Medias Res: The game begins while Peter is frantically searching for Mary Jane after losing track of her, leading to How We Got Here.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Black Cat makes it quite clear that she is willing to give Spider-Man the ride of his life during their first fight.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: When Luke Cage makes a crack about Spidey's costume, Spidey points out that Cage used to run around in a yellow silk shirt and a tiara - er, headband. "It was the '70s!"
  • Karma Meter: Red Suit vs. Black Suit. Your alignment is determined partly by your actions (with Black Suit being the more evil and/or murderous choices) and partly by which suit you use more, with the latter being somewhat more influential.
  • Kick the Dog: After escorting a convoy of non-symbiote survivors to the safety of Fisk Towers, Spider-Man realizes that only one vehicle didn't make it... the one that was carrying Mary Jane. Kingpin then mocks Spider-Man over the fact he got everyone to safety except the person he cares about most. Peter is so enraged that he activates the symbiote and is about to go all Back In Black on Fisk before he remembers his promise to MJ and backs down.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the best ending, Spidey narrates how the loose ends are all tied up, and we are led to believe that it is an internal monologue... until Mary Jane calls him out on talking to himself.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Spidey vs. Black Cat and later Spidey vs. Wolverine. It's just barely averted with Moon Knight.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The Black Suit's upgrades allow Spider-Man to turn into a mass of spikes and writhing tentacles.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Luke Cage can tank bullets and a car blowing up behind him.
    • Spider-Man as well. In this game, you can jump off the top of the Empire State Building, and Spidey will impact the ground with such a force that he's almost flattened, and he will slowly pull himself up with just a minor loss in health.
  • Male Gaze: In the scene in which the Black Widow, Kingpin, the Vulture, Spidey and the Tinkerer are coming up with a plan to save the city from the symbiotes together, and the Tinkerer makes ridiculous demands of the group, Black Widow agrees reluctantly and stalks off, angrily muttering in Russian. ALL the men in the room including Spidey (who hilariously cranes his neck) turn their heads to watch her leave.
  • Master of the Levitating Blades: This game’s take on the Vulture shows him as this. His wings are actually comprised of "feathers" that are large blades he magnetically controls and occasionally launches at you.
  • Money for Nothing: It is possible to purchase the entire upgrade tree a few missions away from the finale if you did enough grinding prior at which point XP becomes useless since there's nothing else to spend it on and, by extension, so does completing side missions.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Black Cat, who pretty much throws herself at Spider-Man, including one instance of her practically shoving her breasts in his face.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: During the final confrontation, Spider-Man tries reaching out to Eddie Brock, within the writhing mass that is "Venomzilla". Peter convinces Eddie that his vendetta against him has gone too far, as he has begun hurting innocent people. In the Red suit choice, this causes Eddie to sacrifice himself to destroy the symbiote for good.
  • Mythology Gag: The first time you meet Kingpin's gliders, Peter will say "Gliders are so 2004, guys. The kids like The Sandman and Venom now!"
    • During the second fight with Venom, he is seen pulling civilians into himself and spewing them back out as symbiotic Mooks. This is done in the exact same fashion as the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, where Venom constantly did this to feed off of people's life.
  • Multiple Endings: Four of them, depending on how many "Red vs Black" choices are made during the game and what alignment the player ends the game on.
    • If all/most of the choices were Red and Spider-Man picks Mary Jane, then New York starts returning to normal following the elimination of the infection and Spider-Man is reunited with Mary Jane.
    • If Peter picks the Black Cat with mostly Red choices, Peter attempts calling Mary Jane to apologize for his actions in the story.
    • If most of the choices were Black and Peter picks Mary Jane, Spider-Man becomes leader of the symbiotes and vows to get back Mary Jane at any cost. Black Widow, working with Kingpin and The Tinkerer, prepares to send in Wolverine, fully in control of his own symbiote, to bring him in dead or alive. Wolverine opts for "dead".
    • If all/most of the choices were Black and Spider-Man picks the Black Cat, Spider-Man becomes leader of the symbiotes, with Black Cat at his side as his "queen", and opts to spread the symbiote infection. He also rejects Comes Great Responsibility, as in his own words "I never knew what power was." Again, Symbiote Wolverine is brought in by SHIELD to bring Peter to justice.
  • Musical Pastiche: The soundtrack appears to be heavily inspired by Danny Elfman's score for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy.
  • Nested Mouths: In an early cutscene, Venom peels back his toothy symbiote mouth to reveal Brock's mouth inside and talk to Peter.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Symbiote Walkers, low-level zombie-like symbiotes.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you don't stop Venom from reaching Mary Jane during the first fight with him, a cutscene is triggered, though it cuts away before Venom actually kills her.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Spider-Man first sees the Kingpin Flyers he thinks they're the Green Goblin and/or Hobgoblin, and immediately mocks them for being ripoffs when he engages them.
  • Offstage Villainy: We never see exactly how or when Black Cat and Vulture were taken over by symbiotes.
  • Pop Quiz: Wolverine gives Spidey one to make sure he's the genuine article.
  • Press X to Not Die: A pretty forgiving example, since failure just restarts the sequence. Sometimes it's funnier just to fail a few on purpose.
    Spider-Man: Cat! No! (Spidey dives and grabs Black Cat... then forgets to shoot a web and smacks into the ground.)
  • Product Placement: Billboards advertising everything from Five Gum to (ironically) the Watchmen DVD release can be seen throughout the city in the 360 and PS3 versions, mixed in with ads from in-universe companies including Stark and Roxxon.
  • Psycho Electro: Electro was always nuts, but in Web of Shadows, he gets worse. Mostly due to his sister being taken in by SHIELD. Being possessed by a symbiote didn't help.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The opening of the game is set to the Adagio sostenuto segment of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, better known as Moonlight Sonata.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Spider-Man's upgraded Red Suit abilities lead into this.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In the Red suit choice, Eddie comes to his senses at the end of the game and climbs into the turbines of the helicarrier, using tendrils to drag and trap "Venomzilla" with him. This causes the turbine to explode and the helicarrier to fall out of the air and crash into the river below.
  • Relative Button: During Kingpin's Kick the Dog moment, Spider-Man almost uses the Black Suit to pummel the guy, but stops himself because he made a promise to Mary Jane that he wouldn't use it.
  • Sanity Slippage: Continued use of the Black Suit makes Spider-Man more aggressive and sinister.
  • Shooting Superman: Luke Cage's first appearance. The gang members keep firing until the car behind him explodes, but not even that scratches him.
    Luke Cage: "Now that was rude."
  • Shown Their Work: On the mythos. In a fight with Wolverine, he asks you questions about whether or not you're the real Spider-Man; unfortunately, these questions are so obscure that even hardened fans of the mythos may get them wrong. Depending on your opinion, showing their work may have been a bad thing in this case. This is Lampshaded partially by Spidey mid fight — after one question, he'll note the answer isn't in his wiki article. At the time of release, it wasn't!
  • Sky Surfing: Kingpin Flyers. Due to some Web-Strike combos, Spidey can do it for a short time.
  • Slave Mooks: The Symbiotes are this to Venom.
  • Smashing Survival: Certain enemies have grapple attacks that necessitate button mashing to get out of.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Wolverine uses a set of questions to determine if you are the real Spider-Man.
  • Spider-Sense: Obviously. Peter can upgrade it to track and detect infected citizens.
  • Spy Catsuit: Black Cat and Black Widow both wear form-fitting black leather outfits.
  • Stance System: Red Suit and Black Suit start off playing similarity, but after being upgraded have very different play styles. The Red Suit focuses on agility and Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, while the Black Suit focuses on Combat Tentacles and other Lovecraftian Superpowers.
  • Stepping Stones in the Sky / Blade Run: During the ending action command sequence of Vulture's boss battle, Spidey does both of these at the same time
  • Stripperiffic: Black Cat, oh so very much. Especially in her second Symbiote outfit.
  • Super Loser: In the bad Red Suit ending, MJ ends up breaking up with Peter regarding him choosing Black Cat over her.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: This is what the symbiote does. It makes you evil, while making you stronger.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: During the first fight with Black Cat, one of her attacks consists of pulling Spider-Man to her, then kissing him, before kicking him away.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mary Jane, in comparison to other adaptations of Spider-Man where she's the designated Damsel in Distress, after getting out of the hospital in the midst of the symbiote infection. She meets up with Luke Cage and Spidey, with the latter asking the former to promise that he would protect her. MJ's response? Turning around racking a shotgun whilst exclaiming "Y'know what? MJ can take care of herself!"
  • Truer to the Text: This game's portrayal of Mary Jane Watson is far more faithful and accurate to the 616 version than any game, cartoon, or movie that came out before it. She's a feisty girl who loves Peter and Spider-Man, dislikes the Venom suit and insists that Peter not use it, uses shotguns and weapons to defend herself and has a witty and snarky sense of humor. Likewise, just like the comics, for all her worries about Peter risking his life as Spider-Man she loves it when he takes her web-swinging.
  • 2½D: The PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS versions are all this rather than the Wide-Open Sandbox of the other versions.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Spider-Man and Black Cat in the bad ending.
  • Unique Enemy: The prison guards in the "Jail Break" level, who are essentially a Palette Swap of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Also, the prisoners, who are encountered in the same level.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The DS version. Throughout the game, Spider-Man assumes Venom is the culprit behind the Symbiote invasion in New York City. Once he finally manages to corner and fight him, it turns out he never commanded the Symbiote army and was trying to stop their leader until Spidey defeated him, leaving the hero to defeat the Symbiote Leader himself.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Moon Knight, of all people, gives Spider-Man this when he thinks he killed some people, though the people in question were the first infected with the symbiote infestation. Black Cat also seems shocked that he'd murder innocent civilians. Most of the Black suit choices will also get this reaction from a lot of people.
  • A Winner Is You: In the PS2/PSP version, once you beat the final boss, all you get is a pop up saying verbatim: "Congratulations! You saved the city," or if you're on the evil route: "Congratulations! You have chosen to enslave Manhattan," before going back to the main menu. You don't even get an image for your efforts regardless of which suit path you take.
  • Villain Protagonist: Spider-Man in the bad endings, where he assumes command of the symbiotes.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Spidey, Venom, and Wolverine are main characters. Wolverine even shows up on the cover despite not even appearing until halfway through the game.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Wolverine's quite adept at Power Bombs.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Peter Parker is as fond of insulting his enemies as ever.