Superman Returns Soaring Through The Digital Metropolis

I don’t want to be a superhero anymore, it’s too hard. All these comics, TV shows and movies, which I considered a genre, made me think that special forces would lead to a life full of cool costumes, evil vilification and helpless ladies. Instead, a superhero seems to want to beat an endless parade of breeding robots until life repeats itself as much as the average of nine to five years. Personally, after playing Superman Returns for a couple of hours, I wanted to quickly return my cape (although I would have kept the lycra costume, it flatters my love handles).

The real shame for EA’s late stab at pulling money out of Bryan Singer’s worthy but not quite blockbuster movie is that it starts off so well. A meteor shower is heading directly towards Metropolis and only Superman (who looks eerily similar to his cinematic counterpart Brandon Routh) can stand in his way. When I shot through the sky with Supe’s thermal image and whirled around on the rock, it was easy to think that dying would be the best superhero game. But with this magnificent level, Superman returns to a steady decline in mediocrity, sometimes stumbling into bad terrain.


The plot of the film about the Man of Steel, who returns to Earth from a lost trip to Krypton and realizes that the people of the metropolis are doing well without Him, is told by several short CGI sequences (with the image and voice of each performer) that appear from time to time. To be honest, the story is really connected with the game only in these last levels, when Lex Luthor’s shameful plan is realized. Instead, you will have to face smaller villains like the robot Metallo (clever name) and his legions of robot warriors. Missions will be highlighted on the map, and for an hour or two you will be easily entertained if you crush a couple of can opponents. However, gradually it becomes clear that dying is all they are going to do, and the inevitable boredom sets in.

However, before we start with the many flaws that can be found in this rotten payout, it’s time to point out the one thing that is doing really well in Superman Returns: the Flight.EA should be praised for creating a control system that makes traveling through the air an unbridled pleasure. Only Activision’s wonderful work with Spider-man 2 comes close to the thrill of running through the skyscrapers of Metropole and breaking the sound barrier with a silencer. It’s an incredible feeling and unlike the rest of the game, it takes a whole to get old. It’s a lot of fun to look around the bustling city of the Xbox 360, listen to the catchy orchestral score and soar into the sky for a stunning view of the bustling city below. With 80 square miles to explore, from skyscrapers to filthy slums, one would think that boredom would be an impossible feat, but the lack of things to do (unless finding hidden cats is your idea of a good time) takes the shine off this huge open world. Personally, what amused me the most was to pick up unfortunate civilians and drop them off at the highest place I could find – but then I have an evil, cruel streak.


Unfortunately, apart from a few secondary racing missions and some disastrous aerial action sequences, most of the time is actually spent on the ground, and repetitive enemies are beaten with a clunky action system, which is pretty bad without having to act with the so-called “smart”camera system. Aiming at enemies is very difficult and mostly overlooked, while the abundance of combos that can be unlocked by accumulating experience points rarely turns out to be as effective as randomly pressing the X button and hoping for the best. Wave after wave, metal enemies will suddenly appear, and even if they finally sent Metallo (in a clearly neo-like giant robot action), they will still come. After that, other enemies like dragons (yes, dragons) seem to terrorize the city, but by then you will be so tired of hitting X and Y until your thumb hurts that they will cause only a hint of interest. At the very least, their superpowers (freezing, heating and blowing) can be used to freeze or melt certain enemies, have saved them time, and they become stronger and more effective during the game.


Superman is rightfully invincible – the worst thing is that he is temporarily knocked out-but-metropolis has its own energy bar, which you need to pay attention to. If your enemies lose too much of the city or you start to bypass cars and accidentally finish buildings, the bar will periodically drop to zero, which means that the game is over. It is a nice variant of the standard health care system and also works very well. I definitely found it helpful to get issued civilians into ambulances to improve the health of the emergency city. However, it is recommended to make reasonable savings after each action, unless you want to have to redo an entire chapter when an unexpected boss action suddenly finishs Metropolis.

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