I’ve played a lot of free to play endless runners over the years, but none have grabbed me quite the same way Spider-Man Unlimited has. Unlimited piggybacks off the current Spider-Verse events ongoing in the comic books, where every single Spider-Man in the Marvel Multiverse is under threat and has to join forces to fight for survival.
In a wholly separate but similar story, Unlimited sets you up to play as all these Spider-Men, as the Sinister Six have opened up a multi dimensional portal above New York letting their alternate selves loose, but consequently letting alternate Spider-Men through as well.
Where I feel Unlimited stands out from other endless runners is within the varieties of the missions and what you get up to in them. The game starts you off in the story mode and these missions act as a challenge mode of sorts, where your goal will be either to reach a specific point, kill so many enemies or collect this many items without dying. Completing enough of these unlocks the boss battles to move further in the story. There’s also the traditional endless mode, where the aim is to get the highest score possible.
Finally there’s the time limited events. Each event only lasts a few days and is often themed around instances from the comic books, focusing on a specific Spider-Man. The events provide the quickest way to earn the in-game currencies—vials and ISO-8—and these rewards are dealt out regularly, the more committed you are to playing the game. Rank high enough on the leaderboards or work through the set objectives and you’ll also earn the Spider-Man featured in that event or a premium portal. Premium portals provide the rarer Spider-Men and are one of the more costly items to buy in game, so If you’re a keen player and want to build up a vast collection of cool Spider-Men to play with, events are where you’ll be spending most of your time.
Each run, no matter the mode, provides a surprisingly unique experience. You’re not just running; you’ll be web slinging, climbing up buildings, diving off tall structures and performing all those iconic Spider-Man moves you’d expect to see in a Spider-Man game. They’re really well integrated into the gameplay, too.
There’s a real flow to the combat in-game, which feels like it understands that “Spidey” attitude really well. General enemies can be taken out in multiple ways, such as a downward swipe to perform a sliding attack or swiping up to lunge towards them. As the pace of the game picks up and becomes much more frantic, you’re thrown against enemies that can only be be defeated one way or another.
Eventually, everything starts to pass by so fast, you need to start planning out your moves ahead of time, whilst still quickly reacting to what’s happening immediately in front of you.
Swinging around New York is a really satisfying experience as well, and it’s exciting when your run takes you on an extended swinging sequence, rather than a quick inbetween section between rooftops. If you’re wondering how the game handles the web swinging, when so few Spider-Man games have managed to get it right, you’ll be pleased to hear that the game does a very good job of handling it. Tapping and holding will cast a webline and start your swing upwards. Letting go at any point will cause you to fall. It sounds overly simple, but it’s very intuitive as each swing feels natural and weighty. As the game throws obstacles and collectables at you while swinging, you’ll find you can pull off some stylish moves with a great deal of control of your position.
As you play, you’re not limited to running around New York either—you crash into Oscorp, take down Sinister Six ships and even destroy a huge Doc. Ock machine, and if you survive long enough, all that can happen in a single run. Also, the game has a very vibrant cel shaded look, which really reminds me of the PS2-era Ultimate Spider-Man game.
Even if you’re not a fan of endless runners or free to play models, I think you’d appreciate the way Gameloft handles the monetisation of the game. Usually, I find that with free-to-play games, you’ll eventually reach the breaking point, where a game will either demand you spend all of your time performing little annoying tasks to proceed, or pay up to skip the whole process altogether. For the moment at least, I can’t see that happening with Unlimited.
I’ve never felt like I’ve struggled to afford any of the upgrades or portals I wanted, simply because I know whatever I spend, will be replenished soon enough, just by playing the game as I normally would. The daily playing bonus lets you summon a new Spider-Man, so you’ll build up your collection quickly and even if it’s a duplicate, you can use it to improve your current collection of Spider-Men. Even the daily goals that are usually fairly easy to complete give out fairly decent rewards.
The main limitation I’ve come across the most while playing is with the Spider Energy. Each run uses up one unit of energy and you can only stock five at a time, although it only takes ten minutes to generate one unit. I usually find that by the time I’ve used all five energy units, I’ve earnt one or two extra units to play with anyway. If you’re still keen on playing, it would be worth your while to use the game’s social features and start populating your friend list, as each friend can send you one extra unit of Spider Energy a day. If you want to earn an easy 2500 vials, you can also brag about your score to your friends and earn 500 vials for each friend. The in-game wording makes it seem like you’re paying to brag but this can be a good earner for extra Spider-Man portals, especially when you’re just starting out.
Spider-Man Unlimited’s ‘economy’ is really well thought out. You’re not constantly spending the in-game currencies on upgrades, simply because there isn’t all that much to buy or upgrade, unlike the recent Crazy Taxi game, where you need to buy all these cars and upgrade all of them in order to continue. Each Spider-Man is treated as a character rather than a costume, and there’s no store to buy specific Spider-Men, like the one in Gameloft’s own Minion Rush. It would have been such an easy decision for Gameloft to restrict the high ranked and popular Spider-Men to a paid only store, but even as a free player, there’s still plenty of opportunities to earn those rarer Spider-Men.
The game always runs daily sales or offers on premium portals, too, via a chance to win rarer Spider-Men at half the amount of ISO-8 than they usually cost. As soon as I feel the need to pay to continue in these games, that’s where the fun stops, which is why I think Unlimited has dug into so much of my time. There’s no F2P barrier when I want to play, there’s nothing you’re forced to unlock. You have the freedom to choose how you want to play in this game and for a F2P game, and that’s really refreshing to see.