As a superhero imbued with arachnidlike powers, Spider-Man has seen his share of ups and downs, and the same can be said of his video games. His last few outings on the DS have all toyed with the 3D side-scroller formula, to moderate success. Web of Shadows returns to this formula but adds a few twists that take Spidey in a fun, albeit short, direction.
Symbiotes have taken over New York, and Spider-Man, along with a couple of his allies and enemies, is out to find the one responsible. The story of Web of Shadows plays out like a sampler of its bigger console counterpart. Instead of following a long and epic struggle for the city, the DS version focuses on one night. There's not a lot of context or setup--you're never told why Spider-Man is back in the black suit--but the presentation of what little narrative there is is great.
Web of Shadows plays like a brawler crossed with an action adventure game like Castlevania or Metroid. The gameworld includes four sections, most of which are accessible from the beginning. As you progress, you'll unlock more abilities that will gain you access to previously inaccessible areas. The level design compliments Spider-Man's powers with plenty of crawl spaces and a good sense of verticality. The four sections that make up the tiny piece of New York you get to explore offer a nice variety, there's just not enough of it. You'll see every section multiple times within the four hours it takes to finish the game.
The constantly respawning enemies in Web of Shadows aren't exactly tough, but they do tend to swarm. Most areas give you plenty of room to zip around and pick off enemies, but some locales are a real pain to fight in. Expect to die a few unfair deaths at the hands of a symbiote swarm in a claustrophobic corridor or crawl space. With the tap of a button, you can switch between the red and black suits, which are each equipped with their own combos and abilities. Defeating enemies earns you experience orbs that you can use to purchase new moves at the numerous save points. Because there's a never-ending supply of enemies, leveling up is extremely easy. Initially, the combat is a little boring as you pound on one button over and over, but it picks up as some of the more acrobatic moves are unlocked. By the end of the game you'll be dodging, webbing, and kicking like only Spider-Man can.