Superman's Kryptonite

Friday, February 23, 2007

Superman may be the Man of Steel, but he has yet to conquer the video-game universe. A series of horrible games over the years has allowed other superheroes to steal the interactive space. When Electronic Arts, the game giant that successfully resurrected Batman Begins, stepped to the plate, comic book fans figured they'd finally get a worthy game for Supe. Wrong.

After a months-long delay, Superman Returns: The Videogame finally shipped, but with many glitches. The camera in the third-person-perspective game works great when you're flying, but on the ground, when you're fighting robots and assorted enemies, it's useless. Also, even though Superman can "leap tall buildings in a single bound," in this game, for some reason, he can't make a simple jump, which wreaks havoc during battles when a foe is atop a car or the like and Superman can't get to him. Although linked to the movie through the likenesses and voice acting of Brandon Routh (Superman) and Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor), those who haven't seen it (it's out on DVD) will find the cut scenes confusing.

Also perplexing is why Superman battles a tornado to finish the game instead of going mano a mano with Luthor. The game does tap into the comic's 60-plus years of mythology, allowing Superman to battle Metallo and Parasite and even take on the role of Bizarro and destroy Metropolis. But most of the game is spent fighting repetitive robots and obscure enemies such as dragons.

Without the constraints of the movie tie-in, which wasn't fully explored, Superman may have finally had a super game. As is, this game offers about an hour's worth of fun and nine hours of monotony, with no replay value and no online or multiplayer options.

-- John Gaudiosi

Superman Returns: The Videogame Teen; Xbox 360 ($60); Xbox, PlayStation 2 ($40) Electronic Arts/EA Tiburon

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