Featured Columns

June 2, 2011

The Comics Console: The Horror That Is Superman Returns!

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters releases in five days, and I can’t really blame anyone for not caring. We all know how terrible games based off superhero movies are, and there isn’t much reason why Green Lantern should be any different. I really want to have faith in Green Lantern, because Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has actually been releasing great games (DC Universe Online, Batman: Arkham Asylum), but developer Double Helix is responsible for such mediocre titles as the G.I. Joe movie game and Front Mission Evolved. Though with the God of War style gameplay, co-op, and the thrill of being Green Lantern, I have faith that I can still have fun with this game. But we mustn’t forget the horror that WBIE can be responsible for. Horror like their last movie tie-in, Superman Returns.

Superman Returns

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment/EA
Developer: EA Tiburon
Released: Nov. 22, 2006
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360
ESRB: Teen

The first thing you should know about this game is that like every other movie tie-in game, it was suppose to be released along with the film; in this case, it was suppose to hit shelves June 28, 2006, however, this game was so behind schedule that it was released around the same time as the Superman Returns DVD. That should give you a good idea of what to expect from this game.

You would think that any Superman game after the infamous Superman 64 would be spectacular in comparison, but somehow Superman Returns is almost just as bad! The game plays like the crack addicted cousin of Superman: The Man of Steel. Similar to Man of Steel you have a “Metropolis Meter” which tells you how much damage the city is taking, and if that meter runs out, then Metropolis has been destroyed and you suck as being Superman. Unfortunately for you, some of the missions you’ll be tasked with, like the opening meteor shower mission, are damn near impossible to successfully complete before your city takes too much of an ass whipping.

The game’s controls are so sensitive and finicky that it makes the whole experience frustrating instead of fun. It’s almost impossible to enjoy or even get through the game without the God Mode cheat activated, but the problem with that is that you can’t save your game with any cheat activated.

Most of Superman’s abilities are at your disposal in the game. Obviously flight is a major part of gameplay, and in addition are heat vision, freeze breath, and super breath…why Superman was given two different breath based powers, I don’t know. Freeze breath freezes things, and super breath causes a mini tornado. Though you can charge these abilities and do super heat vision or super super breath, which basically destroys everything within a half mile radius. It’s really fun to do while plenty of civilians are around.

Most of the fun in the game is simply flying around the city at super speed. You have quite a bit of space to navigate through and above the island of Metropolis. Holding the right bumper has you flying at super speed, which is cool when you hold it long enough to break the sound barrier, but once you realize you’re not actually moving that much faster, the novelty wears off. Metropolis itself looks awesome when you’re hovering from miles above, but once you’re street level there is next to nothing to do there.

Sadly, the most boring portions of the game are the missions. The Metallo chapter of the game has you simply killing robots with your heat visions over and over until you reach the tediously boring boss fight with super-mech Metallo. A 100 story tall Metallo walks in place as drones attack you, and the only way to defeat him is to pick up cars to throw at his back…I’m astounded at the level of stupidity in this boss fight. First of all, Metallo isn’t really doing anything when he should probably be rampaging through the city. Apparently he just has a beef with that one city block. And why is it that we’re encouraged to fight this villain by using other people’s personal property? I’d be furious if I walked outside to find Superman had picked my car up and threw it at some giant robot. I’m pretty sure no one’s insurance covers that. And wouldn’t it be more satisfying as a gamer to simply beat the piss out of Metallo with your fists of steel?

Not only is it insanely stupid how long and dragged out this boss battle is, once you finally wear out his life meter you enter an action button sequence requiring you to press specific buttons in a specific sequence, and if you fail this you lose and have to restart the entire fight. And honestly, it’s not even worth it.

As you go through the game defeating various enemies, civilians will often be injured in the battle. Once you see a civilian in danger, it’s your job to pick them up and take them to the nearby ambulance. But I recommend completely ignoring all battered citizens. Why? Because you’re not rewarded a thing by completing this task. At no point does the game force you to help these people to an ambulance, and if I’m not getting any experience points for it, them I’m not going to bother.

The game’s story is a mess. Like other superhero movie games it embellishes on the movie’s plot, but it doesn’t do it in any kind of coherent form of story telling. Throughout the game you take on Mongul, Metallo, Bizarro, a giant tornado (Tornadoes? Superman 64 much?), and Mr. Mxyzptlk challenges you to races around the city. In between that you’re treated to cutscenes about what Luthor is up to, which doesn’t even result in a major boss battle later. And none of it is interesting in the least. But by the end of the game you’re rewarded with two unlockable costumes! Oh boy!…they aren’t even cool costumes. They’re a Golden Age Superman costume and the Pod costume (a silver costume from the beginning of the game). Where’s my Kingdom Come Superman, or Red Sun Superman, or even Electric Superman from the late 90s! And don’t forget the Potted Plant and Vending Machine costumes! Yes, if you’ve ever wanted to fight crime as a Vending Machine, your dreams can come true in Superman Returns!

This game moves from not only being bad, but just being annoying. The Lock-On button is useless, and jumps around from target to target completely defeating the purpose of a Lock-On button, and the voice acting is just pathetic. Bradon Routh reprises his role as Big Blue, but he delivers some of the worst one-liners ever written and does it badly. Even the amazing Kevin Spacey phones in his Luthor for this game.

I didn’t think it could get much worse than Catwoman, but boy was I wrong. Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters has a lot to prove and a lot to make up for if WBIE wants to continue taking our money for these underwhelming titles. If there ends up being a Superman game released in time for Zack Snyder’s film, I hope development for it has already begun, and basically has nothing to do with the film. I’m very much looking forward to playing a “Superman: Arkham Asylum” one day.

Next week on The Comics Console we’re playing Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters!

Andrew Hurst



  1. Billy

    I owned this game for about an hour and a half before returning it

  2. Aaron Nicewonger

    Yeah. this game sucked. Majorly sucked.
    I had fun flying around. But that was it.
    Forced myself all the way through this crapfest.. And the final boss….. a tornado! That’s right. A friggin tornado. How stupid.

    But at least the flying was fun.

  3. […] Entertainment dropped the ball in every way possible with their last superhero movie game, Superman Returns, and with the already bad reputation of superhero movie games with titles like Iron Man, Iron Man […]

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