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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action Adventure

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Tiburon

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

November 20, 2006

 

 

- Large 80-mile, open-world gaming environment of Metropolis

- May not be saying much, but is the best Superman game ever

- When not bothered by the denizens of Metropolis, flying around at mach speed can be exhilarating

 

 

- Camera really has a disruptive mind of its own, especially during enemy battles

- Canít the people of Metropolis do anything for themselves? Canít enjoy exploring the terrain without being dragged into some ďhelp, us Superman!Ē rescue situation

- Gameplay too repetitive. There re only so many generic robots/dragons/mutant creatures that Superman can defeat and fires he can extinguish before gameplay gets too stale and boring

- Controls too uneven, particularly during in-air fights

 

 

Review: Justice League Heroes (PS2)

Review: Marvel Ultimate Alliance (360)

Review: Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (XB)

 

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Superman Returns

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

Look! Itís a bird! Itís a plane! Itís another rather abysmal Superman game!

 

Yes, along with the major motion picture last year, the Man of Steel has returned to gaming, but like previous games through the years, Superman Returns once again brings the Superman persona down to earth faster than a Kryptonite cruise missile.

 

superman returns          superman returns

 

With a large, expansive gaming world to fly around, a sort-of-based-on-the-movie story with other non-movie-related appearances from plenty of characters from the world of Superman to entertain Clark Kent fans, this should be considered the best Superman gaming adventure ever. But thatís not saying much at all, particularly taking into account that Superman starred in the worst video game ever made, the infamously appalling Superman 64 for the Nintendo 64.

 

The most alluring aspect of Superman Returns is the open-world environment, which covers 80 miles of Metropolis. Flying around at supersonic speeds that

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come with accompanying visual and sound effects are the most gratifying adventuring Superman Returns provides. Alas, these thrills wonít last long, because the people of Metropolis are the neediest folks of any big city, always crying for Superman to solve some problem or the other. Like they canít take care of the mutated monsters and robotic rampagers themselves. Jeez,

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I mean, here you are, the Man of Steel, enjoying soaring around the skies of Metropolis, and you canít take in the scenery for long before youíre dragged into some sort of emergency situation (which also includes the ďthrillingĒ adventure of using your super breath to put out fires all around town).

 

Yes, Superman has all his superpowers, including heat vision and his above-mentioned freeze breath, which make him indestructible to everything except crippling kryptonite. To balance out that indestructibility, Metropolis itself also has a life meter. If you let enough villains run loose and inflict a high level of wanton devastation in the streets of the city, you will be defeated. You can build up, in a role-playing game style, your superpowers to even stronger levels, and borrowing from fighting games, there are all kinds of combo moves to unleash on your enemies (with a satisfying result of swift enemy defeat).

 

Those enemies include many from various stages of the over-60-year history of the Superman comic, with Bizarro and Metallo playing prominent roles, as well as Lex Luthor as portrayed in Superman Returns. Despite the fact that actors from the movie, including Brandon Roth and Kevin Spacey, reprise their roles in the game, the voice acting is rather insipid throughout. And the inclusion of the sort-of movie tie-in storyline is rather clumsily injected into the gameplay, fitting rather awkwardly with the rest of the gameís developing stories.

 

superman returns          superman returns

 

Thatís not all thatís dull in the game, however, because the repetitiveness of the gameplay, that has you fighting generic wave after generic wave of robots, mutants and dragons with an occasional boss battle thrown in becomes less than super. Making matters worse is the atrocious controls and even more horrendous camera, which prove to be somewhat unresponsive and debilitating to the gameplay, especially when trying to fight while airborne. When youíre battling in the skies, it can become many times disorienting, due to an out-of-control camera and physics-defying controls.

 

Despite some satisfying leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound moments above the skies of Metropolis and providing the best Superman adventure yet (again, not saying too much, if you examine the history of Superman games) with some moments of solid adventuring before getting too repetitively stale, Superman Returns just isnít that super. Superman as part of a better video game with his fellow Justice League members in Justice League Heroes? Nearly splendid. Flying solo in Superman Returns? Not so much.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(January 23, 2007)

 

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