Superman Returns

by
RagingGeek
on
2008-12-07 17:33:56


Superman Returns(Xbox 360)

Yeah superman returns alright, back to the damn gamestop. Now as much as I enjoyed various heroes in the past, Ninja Turtles, Batman, Punisher, Spiderman. I was never much of a big fan of heroes with powers. They just didn't excite me that much. Ninja Turtles didn't have special powers, they just had ninja talent, Punisher just had guns and technology, Batman had boomerangs(excuse me, batarangs) and a grappling hook and billions of dollars. Spiderman had super powers but he still acted like a kid. Superman never really excited me all that much because he was just damn invincible, and the only way the comic could make him not be invincible was to have these radiated pieces of Superman's home planet Krypton near him sapping his energy, which of course every one of his enemies happened to have a clump of this extremely rare material. It was just insane. So I bought Superman Returns, without seeing the new movie, and without really thinking because hey it was cheap, the gameplay looked relatively amusing, and hell my kid loves superman, so I figure he'd love to sit next to dad and watch him fly around metropolis until he's old enough to fly around metropolis himself.

I start the game up and I get the impression that Superman left Earth for a period of time to go take care of some things in the galaxy, next thing you know I'm part of some kind of circus of freaks deathmatch on some other planet. So this is basically the tutorial level, pretty basic, learn button mashing combos to produce attacks. Learn how to use your 3 super powers(Heatvision, Superbreath, and Frost Breath) and then you fight a boss and return to Metropolis.

Metropolis is a pretty big city, but when you first get to Metropolis you run into this guy Mxyzptlk who tells you to collect cats and that if you fly high and fast enough you're bound to find them. These missing cats are all over metropolis there's something like 100 of the damn things, much like in Transformers the game I recently reviewed this thing has you going on a scavenger hunt to get them, each one you collect gives metropolis that much more health.

That's the mechanic for superman's life in this game, since superman himself can't die, he's invincible and all he has the city of metropolis' well-being to be concerned with instead. When Metropolis is almost fucked up beyond all reason you start hearing via your super hearing the cries of various citizens "help us superman!", "Step it up superman!", "Won't anyone save us?" etc. Basically the gist I get from this is while the evil doers don't literally destroy Metropolis into a smoking crater the health of Metropolis is really Metropolis' belief in superman being their savior diminishes. This is further evidenced by the fact that after stopping the evil doers there are victims that are lying helpless on the ground that you can pick up and sweep off to ambulances parked something like 10 blocks away, which renew that faith in superman and grant you a replenishment of an arbitrary amount of Metropolis health bar. This health bar is also renewed each chapter otherwise the game would be impossible to complete.

The game itself is fairly open world. One of those typical sandbox games where you can do crazy experimental things. I'm not really a huge fan of those, cause I'm not the kind of guy to sit in a sandbox with a rake and make pretty designs to soothe my mind. I'm not looking for Digital Zen Garden, I'm looking for a fun and compelling game that might also permit me to pick up and use objects like I could in a real world. Superman can do things like pick up the Daily Planet's Planet on the roof and throw it at evil doers, pick up a Burger off the top of a generic Big Boy lookalike and toss it etc. but most of that does damage to the city if you're not careful so you usually don't want to do it unless you're doing a submission.

Submissions in the game consist of 2 things, either Mxyzptlk challenges you to a race where you follow ghostly faces of Mx while you race against him towards a golden ball at the end, which gives you some XP and a time record so you can beat records or show off your super speed to other knuckle head superfans, or you can do the bizzaro submission, and cause over a set amount of damage, once again records are kept for bragging rights about how much you can tear up metropolis, which is incredibly hard to do unless you use certain button combinations and have lightning reflexes. At this point any illusion to a kids game is tossed out the window. If I was 4 years old again playing on NES and NES threw this shit at me, I'd toss the controller at my mom and tell her to take this abortion back to the game store and get me a game that's not impossible to beat, all while crying at my bruised ego.

Anyway back to the main gameplay, so basically each chapter has a sequence of mini scenarios that superman has to save people during. The first sequence is just robots, you thrash the different kinds of robots and you put out fires they cause. Sometimes a freak fire will start up on a skyscraper with no enemies and you'll be tasked to put that out too. it's all to build XP for superman so you can learn his secret abilities and get stronger super powers. Most of the game is a mash fest, and once you finish the mini missions you face a boss. The first one being an oversized metallo, and you beat him by chucking cars are him until he dies. That's it, mission over. All boss battles have some kind of gimmick, have a particular winning sequence, and anything else is pointless. Heatvision while a superman staple is largely useless in this game unless you want to start fires. Superbreath is also pretty gimmicky and while it can put out fires, Icebreath does it 10 times better with cooler effects(literally) Pluse icebreath not only puts out fires, it also stops enemies cold, sometimes you have to really lather the enemy in the breath for a long time before it has effect but once you do, you know they won't be going anywhere for a while. This is particularly useful for enemies that you can't outright hit. Like the gimmick who clones himself 3 times everytime you punch him, yet somehow, if you freeze him first, he can't do his clone trick until you give him some time to thaw out. That's the only way to beat them.

Speaking of gimmick characters. Let's look at the roster of fetid waste. You have robots, generic shitty looking disasters I guess Metallo cooked up, easily beaten in like 3 of any combination of hits. Flying drones, fun to freeze and run into at superspeed in midair for huge explosions, they shoot rays of radiation filtered through kryptonite it appears though so they kind of suck if they land hits on you. Then after metallo is over with you're fighting mutants. But metallo's minions are still around, so you'll have robots mixed in with mutants, mixed in with Dragons eventually. Yeah, the city of Metropolis gets grab bags full of wierdos that all attack at once. Robots, Dragons, Lizard looking Mutants, Mercenaries from the War World, and the Guy who clones himself are all gimmicks that the mini missions throw at you and at the end of the game in a lack of innovation they just kind of randomly mix and match any 2 or even 3 bad guy types together and you end up fighting them. Like it might be Dragons mixed with robots mixes with the clone guy for example. Anything to whittle down your Metropolis PR to nothing.

Some of the monsters are challenging, others are just a nuisance. The faster robots and some of the flying drones and dragons can be a pain if they are in the city zones because there's just so many skyscrapers. So you're constantly having to either circle around buildings to find where they're hiding, or fly straight up so you can get a birds eye on them and then swoop down for the kill. Others like to stay right on your ass the whole time breathing blue fire on you. Now you might ask, "but Raging Geek, you said you were invincible what point would it be to shoot at you?" well not only do you have a Metropolis PR gauge, but you also have a Superman Super Powers catch all gauge. When superman uses his breath and vision weapons it drains this pool, which generally fills up pretty quick so you're rarely out of juice, but enemies hitting you will also drain that same bar. If you're flying while the bar dies you fall out of the sky and thud on the ground. At the time this happens you are happily reminded with a GIANT Y button on the screen to rapidly hit Y to recover superman super energy.

That's not the only time this abortion takes a cue from Kratos and God of War. Battles with Bizarro also result in superman and bizarro shooting their superweapons at each other, and during that scene you must overpower bizarros beam with your own by rapidly tapping whatever giant button appears on the screen at the time, which changes randomly. I would prefer to not have reflex button mashing in my games and especially if they consist of a GIANT BUTTON icon on my screen. GAH I hate that shit so much it's like the festering abomination of lack of imagination. Here, let me just remind you of the fact and break your immersion that you sir are playing a GAME, with a gamepad, by the way hit this random button for no other reason but that you're a trained seal to the programmer and will do exactly as I expect you to! Fuck that shit, fuck the developer who decided this kind of shit was a good idea. Hell while we're at it why don't we put sequences in DVD movies where you have a giant PLAY Button appear of the head of Gandalf or some shit and have it bouncing up and down telling you to keep hitting play rapidly until you "spool" up enough to continue watching the movie. how about that for 4th wall breaking bullshit! Fuck you kratos, and fuck you Superman Returns.

So after I realized that the game was getting less interesting the more the programmers tried to mix and match monsters so they could reuse the same ones 50 times instead of coming up with new and exciting ideas or letting superman the game be like 5 minutes of gameplay instead of 5 hours, I took the game out decided to fuck being animal control(fuck you stray cat collection quest!), fuck racing flight sim(Mxyzptlk), and fuck killing the same uninspired 8 types of enemies again and again for maybe 5 minutes of cutscene every 30 minutes of play. Sorry son but superman's been a bad bad boy, he's going back to the store for credit.

So in the end, if you like mindlessly bashing your fists into a generic looking monster you've beaten down 1000 times before you can either tape a horror poster onto a punching bag or you can buy this game, either way you'll get the same level of enjoyment. What would make this game better is either make the different sections of town look vastly different, the city is painted in mostly the same poor grays and browns. put in some different trees in different places, and make the mini missions more meaningful, I understand I'm a superhero and I have to fight crime, but superheroes especially ones as old as superman have some serious lists of bad guys to fight, hell put in a bank robbery to stop, even if it's mundane. I mean hell you put in putting out fires in the game, why not a few robberies, car chases, etc? Not oh no those mutants who escaped from the lab have teamed up with dragons and metallos robots to cause havoc in an unbelievable and stilted fashion. Don't mix and match enemies without tying them together somehow, they can't just run rampant for no reason and decide hey we're both bad guys, let's kick supermans ass together without at least a cutscene depicting that.

All in all, I expected Superman, what I got was a coaster of kryptonite. 3/10 is my review on it and only because the lockon system unlike transformers wasn't a complete waste of time.