We’ve seen a lot of endless runners over the last few years. Most of them range from “meh” to “good Lord why?,” with a few brilliant gems shining through that make it all worthwhile.
The same could be said for superhero games. Combining the two, then, seems like a guaranteed recipe for disaster. (Case in point: Marvel Run Jump Smash). Spider-Man Unlimited, however, manages to buck both trends. It’s good. It’s really good. In fact, I’d argue that Spider-Man Unlimited is both how you do a runner right AND how you do a superhero game right.
That’s one hell of an accomplishment right there.
So how does it pull it off? With a perfect mix of speed, humor, missions, and collectibles — every corner of it dripping with polish.
At this point, it’s probably worth pointing out that Spider-Man Unlimited isn’t an endless runner so much as it’s an autorunner, the difference being that this game is about missions with goals and definitive ends rather than an endless high score drive. It has the latter as well (the eponymous Unlimited mode), but that’s an element designed to supplement play rather than be the focus of it.
The running itself is tight and responsive. You’ll need to navigate three lanes, with obstacles constantly cropping up to surprise you. Water towers fall, hired goons try to take you out with a well-aimed punch, rocket, or jetpack attacks, barriers drop out of the sky; it all comes together to make every second of play feel like the most action-packed minute of every summer blockbuster rolled into one.
Running, though, is only a part of what you’ll have to do. Sometimes you’ll have to swing on your webs, climb up walls, or do a freefall descent. The game will keep you on your toes, tossing in these variables at seemingly random moments. The result is a game that continues to feel fresh long after the hundredth play. (I’m gleefully speaking from experience).
Aiding in that goal is a variety of environments, each with their own set of obstacles. And as you progress further in the campaign and unlock new chapters, you’ll find that these introduce even more. Even if the core gameplay remains largely the same, Spider-Man Unlimited is cleverly crafted to keep its hooks in you in a way that would make Doc Ock green with envy.
Spider-Man Unlimited is free-to-play, and like most free-to-play games, getting those hooks into you is crucial to their success. That’s probably why there’s a lot going on outside of the running, too. For one thing, you’ll be able to spend in-game currency to buy different Spider-Men selected at random. It’s a mechanic that’s straight out of card battle games, and it works shockingly well here. As a proper comic book nerd, I’m happy to keep grinding in an effort to see which version of Spider-Man I might unlock next.
Sometimes you’ll end up with the same Spider-Man, which is ok, because you’re going to need to fuse cards (again, like a card battle game) to speed up leveling and raise their level caps. This is where things are going to get a little sticky for some folks (web fluid pun intended). Leveling up matters because in the campaign mode, each mission requires that you have a Spider-Man at a certain level. If you’re not there yet, you can grind away in Unlimited or fuse cards, but this is admittedly where you’ll start to find some free-to-play roadblocks start popping up.
Similarly, you’ll find that having a 3-stars Spider-Man that you’ve been using as your main is going to hamstring your play at a certain point, as they can never get past level 30. Stuff like this is going to grate on some players (and to a certain extent, myself included), and the fact that you can always speed everything up by exchanging real money for fake, but overall the game is pretty fair about giving you a way to play without having to break out your wallet.
The only exception – and it’s a biggie – is that there’s an energy system in place that dictates your ability to start a run. You’ll be given five energy points (each run only costs one), and they recharge at a rate of 1 point for every 10 minutes. With runs easily lasting 5 minutes or more, this ends up feeling a lot fairer in practice than it sounds on paper.
And when you take it in as a whole, even if the free-to-play elements do bug you, it’s hard to not love the bigger picture. Spider-Man Unlimited plays wonderfully, has a “gotta catch’em all” hook, and manages to capture the feel of its source material better than anything I’ve played in recent memory.
Spider-Fans and endless runners alike shouldn’t miss this one.
Want a few pointers to get you started? Be sure to read Gamezebo’s Spider-Man Unlimited Tips, Cheats and Strategies!