reviews\ Nov 20, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Superman Returns: The Videogame - 360 - Review

One of the most iconic and popular superheroes in the world is Superman. If you ask anyone walking down the street to name some superheroes one of them is bound to be Superman, and that is not really surprising since he has been around in comic books since the 1930’s. He is one of the most enduring superheroes and became one of the “models” for many other comic book icons created back then. As time progressed people become more interested in this character and there were televisions series and movies created based on this character's exploits and mythology. As interactive entertainment became more prevalent around the world, developers have been trying to make a Superman game that feels like you really are controlling the “Man of Steel;” there have been numerous attempts on many systems throughout gaming history, but they all have fallen very short of the bar, until now. Read on to find out why Superman Returns is one of the first video games that truly represents Superman and not a cheap imitation.

Superman Returns was suppose to be released this summer with the movie, but due to delays it has been pushed back until now. The story for this game follows that of the movie pretty closely but adds in many more events and enemies from the comic books to help give gamers more to do. In this game you will have to utilize all of Superman’s powers: Superspeed, Heat Vision, Freeze Breath, Superbreath, and lets not forget about Superstrength in order to save Metropolis from malicious villains such as Lex Luthor, Metallo, Bizarro, and others.

Heat breath verses freeze breath, who will win?

Even though there have been numerous Superman-based games they all have failed because none of them have captured the essence of playing as Superman. The problem is that developers seriously limited the things that Superman could do at any given time. For instance, you had to earn your Heat Vision, or you could only fly for so long, or only in a certain way. The developers at EA did away with this philosophy and from the beginning moments in the game, you will have access to all of Superman’s powers.

So when you first load the game you will be able to fly to your heart's content, go Superspeed (flying or running), shoot heat from your eyes, pick up very heavy things and throw them vast distances, freeze things with your breath, and even blow out fires with your breath, it is all there. There is one more power that didn’t get mentioned and that is Superhearing and this power is always on. It alerts Superman to know what sorts of danger is going on by showing you an icon that there is a problem in that area. So from the very beginning of the game the developers let you know that you are Superman and not some cheap imitation.

Just another day in the city for Superman

As stated earlier you have access to all of Superman’s powers, but there is a limit to how much you can use the Heat Vision, Freeze Breath, and Superbreath, depending on Superman’s stamina. Even though this might be seen as a limitation, I think it is a good one because not even Superman can continuously keep going on and on without need some sort of rest from using on specific power. The way the developers implemented this limitation was very good and still keeps up with their resolve to make this game feel like the comic books and movies. Also another limitation given to the players it that the city of Metropolis has a health meter instead of Superman. The city can take only so much damage before it is destroyed so this gives players the urgency to keep the city safe from evil doers.

The main problem with this game is that it is extremely repetitious. While you will be able to fly around 80 miles of Metropolis, the dangers you must fight are all too familiar, which seems to be a problem with games of this size (Spider-man 2). The mission flow seems to be as follows: put out a fire, go fight Metallo’s minions then repeat until you have enough experience to level up, fight a boss, and then a new chapter opens for you to do the same thing again and get some more of the movie storyline.

Another thing wrong with the game is that the fighting gets boring pretty fast. Early on in the game you will be able to use most of your powers to beat the enemies, but soon some enemies will get immune to your heat vision so you will have to start relying on your superstrength to defeat enemies, which means picking up a heavy object and throwing it instead of just going in to hand-to-hand combat. There are some combos that you will be able to perform, but after doing them for the umpteenth time they will get boring as well.

Nice view

The graphics for this game are decent but they will not blow your mind like other games of this nature that are currently out on the market now. What will impress you is the size and scope of the bustling city of Metropolis. You will be able to fly/run across this city and see what is has to offer and see its various “districts” and how they are slightly different form one another. The game is so huge that it does take several minutes to fly at Superspeed to get from one end of the city to another. This is pretty impressive of the developers to get this much of the city in the game and still run smoothly.

Since this game’s storyline mimics the movie that was recently released it only makes sense that the developers get the actors to voice their in-game counterparts and thankfully that is what happened. The voice acting in this game is really well done. The one thing that is really good is the soundtrack which complements the game perfectly. As you battle out the enemies on the streets listening to the music will motivate you to continue the fight for justice and save the citizens of Metropolis.

Superman Returns is rated teen and contains violence.

Review Scoring Details for Superman Returns

Gameplay: 7.5
Superman Returns is the best Superman game that I have ever played, but that does not mean it is perfect. The controls are really good, in the way you control the man of steel and use his powers, but the main problem with this game is that it is extremely repetitious from a mission standpoint. Destroy Metallo’s robots, put out fires, boss battles, and a couple of others, that is all.

Graphics: 7.6
The graphics are not bad but they are not great either. The Xbox 360 is capable of much more than this but you also have to remember that Metropolis is huge, even flying at Superspeed for a while will take you several minutes to get from one side of the city to another. The main character models have nice details, from Superman’s cape flapping in the wind to other small things you will notice in the game.

Sound: 8.2
I liked that the developers got the actors from the movie to reprise their role in this video game as it makes it more authentic. The music score is really good and complements the game.

Difficulty: Easy
Superman Returns is a really easy game that you will be able to blast though in no time.

Concept: 8.2
I really like the way the developers handled this game. While there are some things that need adjustment, this is still a fun Superman game.

Overall: 7.7
Superman Returns is the best Superman game produced thus far. The developers at EA finally nailed down what it takes to create a fun Superman game. The only problem is that the game is really late (since it is a movie tie-in and the movie came out nearly six months ago) and the game can get really tedious. If EA can fix these problems in their next outing (if there is one), then they will have crafted a very fine game.


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