Superman Returns

Look! Is it a bird? No, a dead duck

The suspicion is that Superman has spent his last few years away from Metropolis in a darkened room undergoing some form of 'alternative' therapy, most likely the kind which sees a mischievous shrink instructing the Man of Steel to 'paint what he feels' while they put their feet up with heat. This is because Superman Returns looks like the sort of game produced by a manic depressive Lada driver.

If there were any doubts that the summer blockbuster would be a disappointment, they were waved away by a film that was, all in all, not bad at all. There were doubts too about the videogame, which incidentally has nothing to do with the movie, largely due to the sad tradition of games based on superheroes. This time, they were well-founded: Superman Returns is terrible.


If it was supposed to be a movie tie-in, it failed, thanks to someone's not very bright decision to give no meaningful roles to the movie's main villain Lex Luthor and bit of fluff Lois Lane. Instead, Superman finds himself doing battle with generic droids and robots - none of which offer any sort of challenge beyond trying to figure out what the point of themis - that wouldn't look out of place on the cutting-room floor of some '70s sci-fi gash like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

And if it was supposed to be an action game which was enjoyable in ANY WAY to play, it has also crumbled. This is mainly because of the completely uninspired and repetitive missions which play more like a series of unconnected, random encounters than segments of a cohesive plot. You'll be at one end of Metropolis melting a group of small droids, and then you'll have to fly to the other side to do the same thing again, again and again.

It wouldn't be so bad if seeing them off were straightforward, but as it is, it's a right pain in the arse. Flying at speed, melee combat - in fact anything to do with controlling Superman - is a fiddly, messy experience which will have you thumping into buildings and losing your targets with infuriating frequency. The idea, buried beneath the rubbish lock-on system, limited combat moves and by-the-numbers superpower effects, is to make you use all of Superman's abilities, but you'll simply end up getting frustrated.

Flying is supposed to be what marks Superman out as the greatest superhero of them all, but here it's what emphasises the game's shoddiness. Controls are twitchy to say the least, and navigating through the city to find a danger spot before Metropolis is destroyed is sheer torture, made even worse by the crushing sense of disappointment at its ugliness - not to mention the potential psychological damage caused by having to experience all of this negativity over and over and over again.


So let's recap. Superman Returns is ugly, boring, tedious, and staid from beginning to end. Animation is jerky, combat is a non-starter and there's no link with the film. Metropolis is what New York would look like made entirely of Play-Doh. Are you getting a sense of whether you should buy this or not?

The verdict

Delayed by six months for 'improvement', you should delay buying this for... oooh, ever.

  • No online multiplayer
  • Terrible overall controls
  • Nothing to do with the movie
  • Soul-sappingly depressing
PlayStation 2
Electronic Arts