Superman Returns: The Videogame Impressions

We check out the Man of Steel's upcoming console adventure.

EA showed off an updated version of Superman Returns running on the Xbox 360 at its Studio Showcase event today. The forthcoming game is based in part on the recent film of the same name but beefs up the adventure by adding content drawn from the iconic hero's extensive comic heritage. Though we weren't able to get our hands on the game, we were able to get a look at a sampling of the action you'll experience.

The demo began with a montage of the cinematics that are going to be used to tell the game's story. The cinematics are all being done in the game engine, and thanks to the 360's considerable graphics power, they look very impressive. The key characters are being brought to authentic virtual life because EA was able to secure the rights to the main cast's likenesses and their participation in the voice recording.

Once we had our gander at the cinematics, we were able to see the game in motion. Given the work-in-progress state of the game, the frame rate wasn't completely stable, but the rep demoing the game noted that the goal is to have the final game run at a minimum of 30 frames per second. The first part of the demo showed off the Man of Steel flying around Metropolis and facing the now familiar menace of Metallo, one of the new comic-influenced elements of the game. The Kryptonite-empowered menace did its fair share of stomping around and fired off a rocket that threatened the fair city. The menace to the city forms one of your main concerns because, given Superman's legendary invulnerability, you don't have to sweat dying. Instead, your success in the game hinges on the state of the city. You'll see a health bar in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that reflects the well-being of the city. As Metallo and other assorted menaces do their evil thing to the city and its people, the bar will decrease. If it runs down completely, it's game over.

Though he doesn't have a proper life bar, Superman does have a stamina meter you'll have to be conscious of, since it impacts how much of Superman's abilities you can access. As with any game based on the Man of Steel, the team has had to find a way to make his godlike powers accessible. Fortunately the team has opted to give you access to his full suite of powers from the get-go. The limitations are tied to the stamina meter, which is drained every time you use an ability--you'll have access to his super strength, flight, vision powers, and super breath. Vision and breath are assigned to the D pad, so tapping a direction will call up an ability such as heat vision or freezing breath. Double-tapping affects the range, so, for example, pushing a direction once for heat vision will let you fry a single target in a small range, and double-tapping increases the range of effect. You'll even gain a measure of fine control over Superman's abilities thanks to pressure-sensitive controls on the triggers. The amount of pressure you apply when triggering the ability affects its intensity. The catch to the different ranges and intensities for your abilities is that they drain stamina equal to their power.

One nice nod to the comics is the ability to quickly replenish your stamina bar by flying higher in the sky, which puts you closer to the sun--Superman's power source. Of course, you'll need to make sure you've saved up enough stamina to allow you to fly. Another gameplay element taken from the books is a new minigame-style sequence that lets you play as Bizarro and wreak havoc on the city. Comic fans should also be pleased to see the presence of War World and its evil ruler, Mongul.

The visuals in the game are, as we mentioned early, coming along, but they still have the expected work-in-progress blemishes. The frame rate is in need of some tightening, but there's a lot of potential on display thanks to the massive city created for the game and all its different districts. One nice touch to the game on display was that it was running at 1080i.

The audio has some neat touches aside from the movie-cast participation. The soundtrack will feature more than two hours of original music that's layered and that will adjust dynamically depending on what you're doing. So, for example, when you take to the sky, the strings in the piece will come to the forefront, while horns will be more prominent when you're closer to the ground.

Based on what we saw, there's a good amount of potential on display in Superman Returns. Given the rough road Supes has taken in video games over the years, we're hopeful Superman Returns' approach will live up to our expectations of what a hero game should be. So far we like what we see, but we're eager to dig our teeth into the game and see how it all handles. Superman Returns is currently slated to ship this fall around the time of the film's release on DVD. Look for more in the coming months.

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Discussion

47 comments
arseblog
arseblog

I don't what it is about superhero games. So far the only game that impressed was Spiderman the first. Spiderman 2 had silly action scenes and then the latest spiderman is quite ok but it has too many racing missions and it's too comic like. One of the worst superhero games is Fantastic four (the latest).. I recently bought Justice League heroes. I was done with it in 2 days and considering that i had other things to do, I'd have finished it sooner. I guess that says it all for superhero games. Too brief, poor graphics, fighting normally sucks. I kind of liked hulk even though it was incredibly easy and short. I liked the whole idea of smashing anything in your way unlike superman who is always limited. Atleast in the justice league heroes game flight was unlimited. But the main problem was that you don't get to fly that high. I hope that superman can really fly high. And since when does superman need to gain momentum to fly or use super strength. Superman's flying is like walking to us humans. Since when do you see Superman walking around on the streets. Superman gets around by flying. I hear that Superman's flying is going to be based on a momentum meter. In that case i think it's going to suck. I kind of like justice league heroes. Superman had stronger punches than the rest of the justice league and when i faced the last boss;Darkseid, Superman started first and lasted the whole fight unlike his justice league counterparts who were all eliminated. Superman was on invulnerable but he has a man of steel feature or power that's based on momentum. I do hope Supes can fly and go as high as spiderman(the first spiderman ps2 game) or higher. And if he can lift real heavy stuff, i think that will be neat. I obviously can't count on the story being good so I am hoping the action is next to the real thing...

noblethedon
noblethedon

it look''s a good game to play i hope this game is beter then the last super man game _+_

TheEnigma20
TheEnigma20

It shouldn't matter if there's Kryptonite or not there shouldn't be a health bar, the kryptonite should just drain your stamina all the way (therefore taking your powers away) untill u find a way to get rid of it, it would make sense and its exactly wat happens in the comics

eddylogan
eddylogan

Some of you seem a bit dissapointed that flying drains your stamina but I think it will be minimal and they also say that the higher you go in the sky the faster your stamina recharges being closer to the sun etc etc.

Chefjase
Chefjase

I think the game looks great, I'm also glad EA stood up against the movie release deadline and decided the game was not ready. Also, I hope there are lots of rings to fly through in this new game with rigid time constraints , who's with me.....anyone?.....anyone?..........

chunwosu2
chunwosu2

ha ha very fun! why not also include tom wellington too!

FPS_Matt
FPS_Matt

This game looks bloody brilliant, as long as its not to repatative then it should be great.

ruina3015
ruina3015

if the game is better than the movie coollll!!!

zaid55
zaid55

there should be a health bar if kryptonite is present during a fight.

zaid55
zaid55

this game looks good, hopefully its as good as the hulk.

borboap
borboap

it said that you have to have stamina to be able to fly in the first place which would suck because then you cant even fly when u want to

PrebuiltKiller
PrebuiltKiller

i think that this game is going to be really good because EA made it but the one think that i want it to have is the free play like in spider-man 2

jthechosenone
jthechosenone

It better be as good as the hulk game for GC or better.

acamike
acamike

I liked the film a lot. And this game looks like it could be the first great superman game.

mscrisostomojr2
mscrisostomojr2

superman should not have a stamina bar for flying, but for heat vision, super breath, etc is acceptable. the fact that superman is so super, they should make the game not just a bash 'em up game, but a game that will use superman's wits and strategies occasionally.

irishsuperman
irishsuperman

Have to say , really looking forward to this one. Film was a let down , fingers crossed this isnt.

Ipc0ne
Ipc0ne

I hope superman is as action packed as the hulk game with loads of powerups etc...

WagTheDog
WagTheDog

Hulk was good, Spiderman was good, Superman can and should be good. DC games always suck *cough* Batman though. Oh well, I hope this game's a must buy this XMas. How could they screw this up?

ilLD
ilLD

October!!!! Way too long to wait man.

pspnewbie
pspnewbie

You know everyone will get the unlimited stamina code right from the get go.

payback_56
payback_56

I think that is why people could never make a GOOD superman game in the past, he is superman, how do u make a game that lets u be superman with his powers, but still make it hard? Just like stamina to fly? He never had trouble flying before, but they have to do somthing to make it challenging or it will be really boring....

starwarsking613
starwarsking613

what that crap about causting stamina to fly how the hell are you suppost to get around walk down the sidewalk. Flying is who superman is and is how he gets around. same with causting stamina for super strength since when have you seen superman get tired from lifting something, If they keep these as stamina driven powers that will be the downfall of the game im a huge superman fan so i just hope they dont ruin it by making flying and super strength stamina driven in my opinion thats really dumb. even superman 64 wich is the worst game ever you could fly anytime anywhere.

mark_unix
mark_unix

1080i is easier to display then 720P, due to 1080i actually just being 540P interlaced.

seansolo1701
seansolo1701

I wander if they will have the Christopher Reeve version as an unlockable skin! That would be COOL !

slybri
slybri

I'm really looking forward to this game being a hard core Superman fan. It's one of the main reasons I bought the 360 (sad, I know). I was dissapointed by the movie and it's depressing tone. Hopefully this game will make up for it. Love the idea of playing as bizzaro. I predict they will delay the release a few months, maybe until jan or feb 2007. Sounds like they've got a lot of work left to do.

Mona5443
Mona5443

Well, this article is telling. If they had released this game on the same day that the movie came to theaters, we would have gotten a badly optimized game with a lot of graphical mistakes. I remain cautiously (sp?) optimistic about this game.

_Sam_
_Sam_

It's not looking too great

Victer642
Victer642

I actually liked the N64 game. It was the first free roam game i had ever played and it was cool to me. I hope this game can top it.

sinister_m
sinister_m

Hope it's good, but there have been a lot of poor superman games. EA are going to have to take their time with this one. And superman should have a health bar by the way. His invulnerability fades as he becomes exhausted. Its how Doomsday beat him to death in the comics.

EcksBocks360
EcksBocks360

i just hope it's nothing like that crap n64 game...

andyt66
andyt66

It's looking really good...im really glad it's not just me who figures that superman wouldn't have a health bar in a game...being invincible and such

morororo
morororo

Wow, EA are waiting for the dvd release to launch the game. Imagined they would just rush out a **** game for the cinema release like they usually do. Fingers crossed that EA will actually make a good game, doubtful, but just maybe!

gamer_10001
gamer_10001

I didn't think much of this when it was first announced, yet it seems to be shaping pu well enough.

antoine420
antoine420

plz make a good superman game, hope to god ea or whoevers developing it knows what their doing

rynmls
rynmls

create this superman into a great game...

superninjahype
superninjahype

woo hoo! nice to hear some information from EA, i got my 360 for this game, cant wait for it

FRoStYisGoD
FRoStYisGoD

yeh this better be good and plz dont blow it

jemlyn
jemlyn

I really hope they don't blow it. The fact that they were prepared to let the movie release date slide by while they worked on it some more is a good sign.

xSpitFire3x
xSpitFire3x

this actually sounds promising in a way, I'm just hoping for the best.

mauiman240
mauiman240

superman is the best, I can't wait

Elementskate14
Elementskate14

now this should be a good game on all systems and cant wait!