Superman Returns: The Videogame Review

Superman Returns is one of those tragic games that are packed with the potential for greatness but in the end fail to live up to that potential. In Superman Returns you have a game that recreates the entire city of Metropolis and puts you in the role of its most famous citizen. You have the freedom to go anywhere from a walk down one of the streets to a high speed flight through its concrete canyons. The game does an awesome job of conveying the speed and power of Superman. When flying at full speed you’ll see the edges of the screen blur and streaks of red and blue come trailing off of Superman. You’ll hear the sounds of the wind rushing past you and the sonic boom as you break the sound barrier. You can zoom down for a landing and see the pavement crack beneath your feet, and then take off for a high speed run down the traffic filled streets. Clip a building while turning a corner and you’ll see the concrete crack from the force. You can pick up cars and streetlights, and send villains flying from the force of your punches. Awesome. So what went wrong?

Well some people will be put off by the game’s mess of a storyline that strings together random encounters with an occasional reference to the Superman Returns movie thrown in. It doesn’t make much sense to anyone who has or hasn’t seen the movie. I personally would be fine without an overriding storyline here just to have the chance to protect all of Metropolis from evil, but what serves as a story here is enough of a mess to distract you from watching over the city. This leads us directly to another of the game’s major problems: outside of the story encounters that not a whole lot to do in the game. Making matters worse, the story encounters are spread pretty thin while managing to still feel repetitive. You’ll find yourself spending a lot of time just flying around until you hit the spot that will trigger the next battle in the storyline, just to find that it’s pretty much the same battle that you just fought. Where are all the bank robberies? The random street crimes? The jailbreaks? You’ll occasionally be called upon to put out a fire with your super breath and you can spend time searching for the game’s hidden kittens, but there’s just not much going on in Metropolis. Does Metropolis still need Superman? Apparently not.

If you’re going to create a living city environment and making to pretty much devoid of activity, then your story missions had better be pretty darn good. Unfortunately that’s not the case here. The missions primarily consist of numerous fights against minions followed by a showdown with the boss. More imaginative missions such as protecting Metropolis from a storm of meteors or a swarm of tornadoes are very few and far between. The boss fights should be memorable showdowns with Superman’s arch-enemies, but they’re simply repetitive and overly long. You’ll discover this right from the beginning of the game when you find yourself on War World (not sure why, but remember what I told you about the story) in a series of gladiator fights. This involves chasing around an arena looking for your foe, followed by much punching and throwing of objects. Defeat one enemy and another steps up until you face Mongrul himself. Lose at any point during the sequence (and it’s not always clear why the game declares you a loser when it does) and you have to start all over again from the beginning. Painful.

 

I also ran into some problems with controlling Superman during a fight. The camera was often slow to react to enemy movements, leaving them off screen and impossible to target. The game’s auto-target lock wouldn’t always lock-on, and had particular troubles when the enemy was just off screen which was often the case due to the aforementioned camera issues. These problems often led to Superman grabbing nothing but air or throwing punches into the wind instead of the enemy just next to him. The game uses a combo attack system, but you’re pretty much fine just button-mashing the attack button. This is actually the preferred method of attack as some combos make use of the Y button which also happens to be the button to use to send Superman into the air. If you mis-time a combo sequence you can find yourself in mid-air, which is particularly frustrating as the game doesn’t really handle battles well when one of the combatants is in the air and the other on the ground. A jump button for use in the combos and a separate flight button would have been a good idea here.

Overall Superman Returns is a game that warrants a rental if you’re interested in checking out Superman in flight and going on a sightseeing trip of Metropolis from above. Otherwise it’s hard to imagine that it will hold anyone’s interest long enough to warrant playing it through to the end. There’s a lot of potential for a great game here, though. Hopefully Superman will return again and this time bring more gameplay with him.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 65%. Superman should have taken a bit longer to return.