Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

He can swing, from a web. In this game, he’ll mostly run.

Look out! It’s free-to-play Spider-Maaaaaan… and not even a spider-sense could prepare you for how surprisingly good it is.

This offering from mobile game developer Gameloft contains many of the elements typical of freemium endless runners; it’s a fast-paced affair that mostly has you dodging back and forth between three lanes, dodging obstacles, grabbing currency, and bopping enemies. But you’ll also web-sling with the greatest of ease, or wall-crawl your way to greater heights, or smack the spit out of a boss or two, and it quickly becomes clear how much time and energy went into making Spider-Man Unlimited not only fun, but a real treat for long-time spider-fans.

Gameloft

The story here is appropriately fun and comic-bookish— there’s been a tear in the fabric of space, and now alternate versions of Spider-Man’s foes are pouring out to run amok. Fortunately, with them come alternate versions of Spider-Man himself straight from the pages of some of Spidey’s greatest stories, and they’re all ready to kick butt and help out. If you’re a fan of ol’ webhead, get ready to get pumped at the appearance of Miles Morales, The Armored Spider, Scarlet Spider, and numerous more variants.

Gameloft

Each Spider-hero comes with his own special abilities, and there’s a decent, if simplistic, system in place to allow you to fuse extra Spideys together should you end up with more than one of the same character.  Most of these amazing Spider-friends are collected as random drops purchased with in-game currency, or the all-powerful crystal, which is mostly acquired with real money. And the story mode is fairly heavily gated, requiring you to either use specific Spider-Men, or be a certain level, before you can do certain levels, ensuring you spend extra time playing the game and possibly getting impatient with the long recharge time on each life.

Gameloft

But wait! Before you list this as yet another greedy freemium game, know this: the first time you boot up Spider-Man Unlimited it comes with a warning from the game developers to parents cautioning them about the existence of in-app purchases, trying to deter them from letting their kids make questionable purchases. Though you can blow a hundred bucks at the in-game store should you so choose, you also acquire a steady trickle of these crystals through play, and while your lives refill slowly over time, they only do so after you’ve progressed a certain distance through the game, allowing you to die as much as you want early on until you’ve got a feel for the game. Little things like these show that Gameloft doesn’t just want your money— they want to make sure you have a good time, too.

Gameloft

Spidey himself controls magnificently, responding instantly to every tap of the screen. When you die, you’ll know for sure it was your fault that it happened. The music is reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s score from the original Spider-Man film trilogy, giving things a heroic feel at every moment, the voice acting is excellent, and the graphics have a brilliantly crisp cel-shaded style that’s a feast for the eyes.

Spider-Man Unlimited doesn’t exactly break new ground, but it does what it does pretty darn well. While it’s true you could get ensnared by the web of its free-to-play offerings, Spider-Man Unlimited’s sharp game design and loving reverence for the history of this spectacular superhero make it a solid choice for anyone looking to sling a few webs, bop a few bad guys, and run their little spider-booties off.

This review was based on a download of Spider-Man Unlimited for iOS.

App Store Link: Spider-Man Unlimited for iPhone and iPad | By Gameloft I Price: Free | Version: 1.0.0 | 95.7 MB| Rating 9+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating