Superman Returns Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

When it comes to games, Superman hasn’t exactly had a “super” reception. Perhaps an understatement when you consider that “The Man of Steel’s” legendary (for all the wrong reasons) N64 endeavour is widely regarded as one of the worst games ever conceived.

Thankfully, whilst far from perfect EA’s Superman Returns is far from deserving of this unflattering accolade.

As is all the rage these days, Superman Returns plonks you right into the middle of a sprawling city, eighty square miles to be exact. Expectedly, much like Spider-Man, Superman is right at home in such a vast environment. Similarly to Spidey’s swinging around in Activision’s recent titles, in Superman Returns just simply flying around the gargantuan city of Metropolis and taking in the sights can offer a certain degree of amusement.

The city, whilst impressively sized is not the playground it is in so many other games with such vast environments. There are cats to find, side missions that allow you to bring destruction to the city with Superman’s evil counterpart Bizarro and others that allow you to partake in races. Other than this, Metropolis is nothing more than a backdrop for the primary missions, which is a real wasted opportunity.

Most of your time will be spent beating up generic bad guys in random missions. Completing so many of these will unlock the more interesting main missions, and perhaps a segment from the rather weak storyline. It’s a repetitive structure to say the least, and a lot of people simply won’t be able to stand doing the same thing over and over.

The combat isn’t particularly exciting either. Whilst Superman fans will no doubt get a kick from using all his signature powers, the basic punches and kicks are poorly animated and certainly lack the visual impact of someone who bears the mighty “Man of Steel” moniker. You’ll begin with many combos and learn a few more as you progress through the game. It’s good to have variety if you want it, but unless a certain strategy is required you’ll probably just resort to button bashing your way through most of your encounters.

Since Superman is essentially invincible, you cannot die in Superman Returns. Instead the bar at the top of the screen indicates the health of the city rather than as is usual, you. It’s a great idea that does make a great deal of sense when you consider the subject matter.

EA Tiburon have implemented an RPG like system, that sees you rewarded with points upon the completion of missions. These points automatically grant you new moves as well as improving some of your existing ones. The mechanic gives an otherwise shallow game a tinge of depth, which is pleasing.

With weak textures and an inconsistent framerate, the games visuals are largely disappointing (especially on this next-gen 360 version). But on the good side, Superman’s flight is captured superbly. When doing so the screen blurs, Superman’s iconic cape can be heard flapping in the wind and there’s an enormous booming sound as you hurl yourself through the sky at sound barrier shattering speeds.

Superman Returns is significantly better than most reviews suggest, that’s not to say it’s an amazing game, but rather a merely average one. So, it’s not quite as solid as steel (see what we did there?) but at the very least, it’s a moderately solid title that had the potential to be so much more.