previews\ Oct 12, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Superman Returns: The Videogame - 360 - Preview 2

I couldn’t imagine a better way to open up my preview for Superman Returns than this … “Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!”  Okay, maybe you won’t get that quote unless you have seen the movie – which by the way, Kevin Spacey steals every scene he appears in.  Back on track though, the quote isn’t directly applied to the video game since I would much rather have said this about Superman Returns … “Right.  Right.  Right!”  EA Tiburon is out to make the best Superman game ever.


In the past, we all have come to know that creating a Superman video game is tough.  What is even tougher is the fact that EA has to make an adaptation of a licensed movie with the guy in blue tights.  How would one address this problem?  Well, EA for one has decided to take a few creative liberties and beef up the video game with their own content.


Superman Returns: The Videogame Xbox 360 game

First off, EA is not using the John Ottman’s score or John Williams’ theme from the film.  What a travesty!  EA has all this money and can’t dish out the dough for integral parts to keep it authentic to the video game.  Wait a minute, maybe this isn’t a bad thing after all.  Tiburon can continue to distance themselves from the movie with not using licensed music, which will be a good thing when everything is said and done.  Tiburon knows that the movie wasn’t action oriented and was geared more towards Clark Kent stalking Lois Lane like a maniac.


Now that we know that Tiburon is moving away from the drama and inserting the action, what else could they have done to boost the game in a whole new direction?  It’s easy to see, just from screenshots of Metallo – Tiburon is putting forth new villains and telling new stories the movie never did.  One example would be before the movie, when Superman went to search for Krypton, he was on his way back when Mongul warps him to his WarWorld.  Mongul puts Superman through a series of battles with his greatest gladiators until you finally meet up with him to battle.  This WarWorld encounter serves more as a tutorial for your powers and how to control Superman.


Superman Returns: The Videogame Xbox 360 screenshots


Other villains will be making their appearances in different ways.  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the Ringmaster of mischief, is there for mini-quests for Superman to play through.  A few examples would be playing as Bizarro himself, racing Mxy through the city and saving kittens.  Bizarro makes his way into the game in two fashions; one as a villain and one as a playable character destroying the city.  Other villains include: Riot, Overkhast, Plahtune, and of course Lex Luthor.  If you aren’t sure who a few of the villains are playing through the game, you’ll be at the same level I was.  Due to that EA has received the approval from DC Comics to create a few of their own.


What EA Tiburon has put forth in terms of keeping it authentic to the movie is that Kevin Spacey, Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Parker Posey and Kate Boseworth all voice their own characters.  They all were avid fans of video games, besides Spacey, and wanted their voices to be in the video game when asked if they could.


EA Tiburon has also reached out to Marv Wolfman and Flint Dillie to help the storyline for the video game.  Wolfman has worked on prestigious comics like Black Cat, Blade and Nightwing.  Flint has helped with Chronicles of Riddick, Transformers, and Buck Rodgers.  Tiburon even had an associate producer, Sergio Bustamente, that had worked on Spider-Man the video game with Treyarch over at Activision. 


Superman Returns: The Videogame Xbox 360 screenshots


Playing Superman Returns is much better than hearing about it if you had to ask me.  Sitting down to dwell deep into the game, I came to the realization that I am still the comic book fan I have always been.  Don’t tell EA this, but I am a Marvel Comics fan at heart.  “Spider-man, Spider-man, radioactive Spider-man.”  Anyways, Superman is simply three video games in one.  There’s the flying mechanic, the protection of Metropolis, and superpowers you have to use for combat.  The flying portion could have been a game all on its own right – it’s that good. 

Protecting Metropolis is the method in which EA Tiburon gives you consequences.  Superman can’t die, so he must protect Metropolis for the game to continue.  Metropolis is represented with a blue health bar that will steadily go down as villains like Metallo destroy the city.  For the superpowers, EA Tiburon incorporated all but the X-Ray Vision and Supervision into the game.  Tiburon even went as far as giving Bizarro his own dedicated powers he has with Suckbreath and Ice Vision. 


Tiburon is using the Havok physics engine and they feel they have pushed it to the limits.  Picking up cars and throwing them at Metallo as he tears through the city is great to see in action.  For all those wondering, Tiburon didn’t use the Godfather engine because simply, you can’t fly in that game.  In Superman, you can fly 5,000 feet above sea level.  When you get above the clouds, the sun will provide you stamina.  Speaking about stamina, that’s one way Superman is limited in the game.  When he runs out of stamina, he’ll faint and you have to tap the Y button to get him back on his feet and back into action.  Super villains like Metallo and Mongul have the power to knock you out with one punch, so beware of your stamina level.



One thing the stamina level has going for it is that the super speed doesn’t affect the bar.  You have unlimited use of super speed while with heat vision and ice breath, you’ll run out of energy using those powers.


The last thing I want to comment on is that there are no Clark Kent portions placed within the video game.  You’ll see Clark Kent in a few cinematics, but that is it.  Tiburon couldn’t incorporate him into the game the correct way without frustrating the players.  Who would want to be Clark Kent anyways?  He can’t use Superman’s powers at all.


There’s a lot going for Superman Returns that EA should be proud of.  Tiburon has handled the title well enough that it’s a good time to be excited again for the franchise that was a cancer for any video game developer.  Look for the game on store shelves this winter when it ships along side the movie.  If you can’t wait that long, Tiburon is working on a playable demo at this moment that they are planning to release on the Xbox Live Marketplace before the release of the game.


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