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Review – Superman Returns

posted on February 19th, 2008 by zenstrabo

As you are happily whiling away the hours on the great games that have come out in the past few months, allow me to darken your day with another reminders of how much shit last year’s flood of licensed games sucked.

As a child, I spent a fair amount of my time educating myself, to a very precise degree, on the capabilities of superheroes, should a need arise to discuss how such powers would fair in various hypothetical conflicts. For example, I know the powers of each superhero so well, I could tell, with scientific accuracy, who would win in a battle royal between Namor, Aquaman, Namorita, Black Manta, and Aqua Lad.*

The sound of dueling banjos plays in the distance...

Later in life I developed a deep resentment when I came upon two crushing realizations. The first, and perhaps the one that should have been foreseeable, was that no one ever got laid due to their wielding of such knowledge. The second is that I had failed to chronicle all of the abilities of my favorite hero, Superman. With the rise of video games, I found that if the ability to utterly ruin a video game and exhaustively frustrate anyone heedless enough to play a game with his name in the title is a power, Superman also has that power.

Is it really so wrong to hold on to hope that a licensed game will eventually be produced that won’t make me feel like its calling me a huge pussy for playing licensed games? Is it against nature to fantasize that being Superman could be fun, or that a company will value quality as much as profit margins? Sadly, just seeing the words Superman, video game and fun in the same paragraph has become a crime against nature. Living in one of the few states that still uses this term in its statute, I hope you can appreciate the risks I’m taking in bringing this review to your computer. When I’m locked up with rottweiler rapers and fish fellaters, at least you’ll know better than to engage in the unnatural lifestyle on which I’ve wasted my freedom.

Superman Returns is the latest in the most horribly cursed franchise of all licensed games. The character of Superman presents a double dilemma to anyone who’s charged with developing a videogame for him to fly around in. First, licensed game publishers know that recognizable characters are a sure sell, so spending more than three cents on a retarded Malaysian monkey to program your game just doesn’t make financial sense. On top of that, Superman is a near invulnerable alien with the ability to kill anything he looks at and then fly away. So, what can writers come up with that could really qualify as a problem for him? Most writers lamely rely on tired clichés: Needing to be in two places at once, Lois is being a douche, or maybe Superman forgets to get super pissed off and use his power until the end of the movie/ episode/ comic. They’ve also taken his powers away about a fucktymillion times (a number which defies the properties of both numbers and fuck), killed him, and made him fall off his horse. Complex moral dilemmas are hard to write and most of Superman’s writers seem to have listed, “ability to create western letters,” as their main writing qualification when applying to DC.

Jor-EL thinks this game sucks too.
Again, the sound of dueling banjos plays in the distance...
There is nothing I could have written in those word balloons that would be more fucked up than what’s already there.

The game proper starts off by showing us why movie Superman took five years to get back to Earth (avoiding child support) after going to check out his blown up planet that he already knew had been blown up. Apparently he’s been off dicking around at the Intergalactic Tournament of Tight Pants. So here’s where we get to see how the writers/ programmers deal with the Superman dilemma. You are invincible, (YES! Finally, as no other Superman game has remembered to include this fucking fundamental characteristic of SUPER-fucking-Man) but you have a “crowd approval meter” that looks suspiciously like a health meter.

Shit.

The flight controls are as pleasant as tasting the bottom of your shoe after taking a shortcut home through the dog park. The superpowers are all limited and need to recharge; just like what never happens to Superman. The superspeed responds to the button pressing as well as it responds to the onslaught of swearing that follows the button pressing, and is not fast enough to chase down the robots who are rolling around on tank treads breaking shit and insulting citizen’s mommas.

Alright, so truthfully, I stopped playing when Superman’s superspeed was too slow to catch a robot on tank treads. Inherent in, “faster than a speeding bullet,” is the idea that speeding bullets are pretty much the fastest thing we can think of, including robots. A regular speed bullet maybe, but if you know anything about the limits of robot lubrication and friction build up at high speeds, you’re probably not reading this article. Seriously, at this point in the game I was starting to feel like I’ve wasted my life playing video games, and that I should just take up an addiction to reality TV like everybody else.

The sound of dueling groin punches plays in the distance...

Yes, deep down I knew this game would suck as soon as my ability to read led me all the way through the word “Superman.” I’ve played just about every piece of shit with this word in the title so I shouldn’t have let it get me down, but my motto, “live and don’t learn,” has brought me this far through life, and I stick with it. (See my article over at tatoolamer.com titled, “Forty ways to redesign your ex-girlfriend’s names into awesome skulls with snakes in their eyes.”)

On a positive note, the number 64 did not make an appearance anywhere in the game, landing this game an “is” out of a possible “is not” on the “Games that are better than Superman 64” ratings scale.

* Just in case you want to test my ability, the answer here is conditional: if the event takes place on land they all get disqualified for being unfit for any type of physical conflict. Underwater, Namorita wins because she gets the drop on all the others who are distractedly planning some sort of gay fish orgy.

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