Reviewed by Jimmy | 12.04.06

Superman Returns is a half and half tie in between the Superman comic and the movie revival from earlier this year. Superman Returns has a lot to live up to considering shaky past efforts translating the man of steel into a game format. EA Tiburon have stepped up to the plate and I'll see if they have successfully made a game that lives up to the legend.

Superman Returns is an ambitious title that has been pushed back until Electronic Arts was comfortable releasing their final version. Warner Brothers in their new gaming department has a clear understanding a little more development time could make a huge impact on the final product and although the missed the cash connection of movie and game, they have successfully planned a DVD and game cross release of sorts.

Most gamers already know the past the Man of Steel has had in the videogame world, so there is no need to bring up the past history of badness labeled "Superman 64". It's safe to say that besides Warner Brothers release of Justice League Heroes, Superman has been misunderstood, underdeveloped, and missing from the new comic spotlight that has been refocused in gaming. On the Marvel side, The Hulk, Spider-Man, and the X-Men all have good games backing the license, and so far DC has come up short. No pressure, EA, I'm sure the DC fans won't notice if you mess this one up.

So the question is? Is Superman Returns the Superman game we've been waiting for, or did EA mess up? Well, the answer is a little more complex, but for the basics, this isn't the Superman game we've been waiting for, but it does come close in a lot of respects. What Superman Returns does right is capture the feeling of being Superman in the sprawling mega city of Metropolis. Superman Returns has a good sense of the scale of the city, and speed and power of the Man of Steel. This is the hardest feat to accomplish with a super hero game and Electronic Arts has put the time into making the gamer feel like they are really controlling Superman.

Since EA, has Superman under control and feeling Super, you might wonder what went wrong? Well, even though it feels like you are Superman, the actual tasks and storyline is missing from the Superman comics and movies. Superman Returns the game is one dimensional and only shows Supe as a juggernaut, smashing his way through the bad guys, really without any reason besides it's in the game. Superman Returns is really lacking the drama, and relationship qualities between him and Lois Lane, or any dialog relations with the villains. Superman Returns is a one line joke machine without any substance to grab the gamer and make them care about the city, Superman himself, or the actives in the game.

What we are left with in Superman Returns is a good game engine with one of the most historic comic characters well captured and fun to play with nothing to do. Well, I should rephrase that, there are things to do, but after the first dozen beat downs on metal robots it gets old soon. Superman Returns also throws in the occasional save the citizens from a fire or the asteroid blast right in the beginning, but unfortunately it's not enough. I really was looking forward to EA capturing the feel of the Spiderman games from Treyarch in their own way with Superman. I'd say EA is half way there and if they continue down this path they might just produce something real special. For now, Superman fans will have to settle with Superman Returns.

The storyline in Superman Returns starts along with the movie with Superman returning to earth and without any background information or current information you get right to the action fighting against Metallo and his robotic minions. After disposing of them you'll have a few unrelated cut-scenes of nothing then more action without reason. This follows Superman along though the whole game, the plot is strangely non-existent and when animated scenes come into play the have nothing to do with current game actions. The main enemy isn't even his arch nemesis Lex Luthor or Apokolips ruler Darksied, its Metallo, Mongul and dragons! Ah, why have a good plot when you can just throw in the excess from the DC universe against Superman, hey and why you toss in enemies throw a few dragons and meteors this way.

One interesting innovation in Superman Returns is that instead of the regular health meter, or the new and more popular regenerating health, Superman's health is tied directly to the city of Metropolis . When the city is damaged, Superman takes a hit, so this directs players and motivates them to save the city either from attacking villains or fires. I liked this concept a lot, but in a way it takes the superness, or Superman. In several battles, I died not because I was killed, because the city was too damaged and in a way it's not really fair to the player especially when you caught in a huge battle with multiple enemies. The targeting system isn't too helpful in this area either which makes large battles frustrating. Even though Superman had all his tricks is easily taken down by a few robots.

Superman Returns shouldn't be written off entirely there is some fun moments in the game that deal with boss battles and other major events. The stuff in-between might not be captivating, but you really enjoy being Superman this might not be so bad. The controls could be reworked and tightened up, along with the entire gameplay structure, but aside from this there is a basic structure that could be applied to another version of the game. I'd like to see more Supermen, but Electronic Arts needs to revaluate the character, his motivation and the great library of comics that date back to 1939.

Graphically the most impressive quality in Superman Returns has to be the city of Metropolis. The scale of the city is enormous along with being preloaded into the games memory to do away with loading screens. The city which is one of the largest square mile cities in a game is breathtaking when glances from high above the clouds. As Superman you're free to zoom around the city either by foot or in the air, and collating with the city is the range you can travel which goes all the way up the stratosphere. Techniqually, given the speed you can move (800mph) and the distance you can go upwards, Superman should be looked as an accomplishment for EA.

The city is the most impressive feature, but mainly only in scale and because of the lead character. When you take a closer look the textures are repetitive and a little dull, this goes along with the population of Metropolis and their last generation looks. Brandon Routh (Superman) looks good although a little more bulky; Superman is the highlight of the game. EA and Warner managed to captures his likeness and the other characters along with some voice work. Overall Superman Returns looks performs nicely with no lag on the Xbox 360 which is comforting. I would have preferred more detail in finer details of Metropolis like its inhabitants and structures. All and all, Superman Returns looks good for the size of the in game environment.

I really wanted this Superman game to surpass my expectations, but unfortunately it only slightly met them and then let me down. It's cool to be Superman and EA did a great job with the character, the city and his powers (minus X-Ray Vision and Super Hearing), but the other side of the game is generic and boring for the most part. Bizarro couldn't even keep the smile on my face as I destroyed the city, or saved it in Bizarro's mind. For mojo the first hour was awesome, going up the scale to the 8's, and then the second hour, I came down to 7.5 and then furthermore rested on the 7. Superman has some great qualities, but the mojo doesn't last, blame it on the Kryptonite.

Proceed with caution when checking out of your local gaming store with a new copy of Superman Returns. On the surface Superman Returns is impressive and the actual act of playing flying around the city as Superman is fun, but the lack of any real story hurts the overall experience. If you're looking for anything more then a beat em' up styled Superman game then you'll have to wait for the next rendition Superman. Until then, Superman can warrant a weekend rental and hopefully the next Superman game comes inspired from the original content and not a Hollywood script.

Gameplay: 6, Graphics/Sound: 7.5, Innovation: 6.5, Mojo: 7. Final: 6.5 / 10


  • Unleash Superman's complete arsenal: Use all of your superpowers: Flight, heat vision, freeze breath, super strength, and more.
  • Feel a revolutionary flight mechanic: Seamlessly transition from ground to air with the freedom that only Superman could experience. Reach speeds in excess of 800 MPH with super speed.
  • Immerse yourself in an authentic Superman experience: Inspired by the blockbuster motion picture and 60+ Years of Comic Book History.
  • Explore a true open world: Explore 80 square miles of the huge, open-world Metropolis for the first time ever.
  • Complete missions and mini-games: Defeat legendary villains like Bizarro and Metallo in colossal, action-packed missions.

Superman Returns
The Videogame

Electronic Arts

EA Tiburon


Nov 2006


Xbox, X360, PS2, PS3, Nin-DS

Players 1
Dolby 5.1
HDTV 1080i