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Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Can we trust Spider-Man? Or, to put the question more accurately, can we trust his games? The superhero's franchise has been unpredictable at best and frustratingly inconsistent at worst. While 2004's Spider-Man 2 and 2005's Ultimate Spider-Man were both faithful and fun, 2007's Spider-Man 3 and Spider-Man: Friend or Foe were either painfully mediocre or absolutely terrible, depending on which console you had.

So, which extreme should you expect with the release of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows later this year, the friendly neighborhood web slinger or the emo dancing asshole? We recently got our first look at the new game and, for now, are surprisingly optimistic. Here are five big reasons why.

FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Web of Shadows' developer, Shaba, has never made a Spider-Man game before. What they have produced are seven extreme sports titles, including three Tony Hawk games. Before you start panicking, think about those two worlds - are they really that dissimilar?

We witnessed the webhead smoothly chaining punches, kicks, swings and throws off a large group of thugs, just as if he was a skateboarder doing tricks on a series of ramps and pipes. During a boss fight with the Vulture, in fact, the hero and villain were connecting so many moves in a row that they literally never touched the ground.

The action seemed wildly over-the-top, but that's a comic book for you. That's Spider-Man. Speaking of which...

WHO IS SPIDER-MAN?

In Web of Shadows, he's who you make him. If you're a fan of classic red and blue spandex, choose that suit. If you're a fan of symbiotic black, choose that one. The game enables you to switch between the two outfits at any time, which doesn’t make complete canonical sense, but should create some diverse combat.

Each version of Spider-Man has thematically different fighting styles. Wrap a baddie in web with the "good" suit and then - a second later - pound him into the ground with the "bad" suit. Or switch the order, choking him with dark goo before acrobatically swinging in for an old-fashioned kick. The more you play with one suit over the other, the more moves you'll unlock for that suit.

Even the citizens of New York will notice which style you prefer, treating you with adoration or fear accordingly. Speaking of which...

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