“Superman Returns” perfectly embodies the phrase “too little, too late.” After a five-month delay, EA’s adaptation of the WB summer tentpole is finally out, just in time for the homevideo window, with impressive graphics and sound but shockingly little for players to do. Like its theatrical predecessor, it will probably end up an underperformer.
It’s clear that EA invested a lot in “Superman Returns,” because the game is a technical marvel. Watching Superman’s cape billow as he floats in the air, seeing him fly from one end of Metropolis to the other with no load time and hearing the sonic booms as he accelerates to super speed is pure pleasure. It’s almost worth the price of the game just to toss the globe from the top of the Daily Planet building down the street like a bowling ball.
The problem comes when Superman lands. The storyline basically consists of the Man of Steel flying around the city until he finds some enemies to beat up. Then he does it again. And again. Ostensibly, the enemies change from robots to mutants to the Superman clone Bizarro as the game progresses. But the button-mashing techniques used to fight them are so mind-numbingly similar that it hardly matters.
In a bad sign for a game where your goal is to defend Metropolis, the only real fun comes in a side mission where players become Bizarro and try to destroy the city.
Game somehow manages to be both annoyingly repetitive and maddeningly short. For their $50 or $60, most players will be done in less than 10 hours.
All the movie’s stars do a minimal amount of voice work, but not for any good reason. Brandon Routh (Superman) occasionally inserts bland statements like, “My powers aren’t having any effect.” Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane) and Kevin Spacey (Lex Luthor) show up in animated scenes lifted from the movie that have absolutely nothing to do with events in the game.
Like a bad summer tentpole, “Superman Returns” demonstrates the folly of focusing on effects and stars when you haven’t got a decent story to make anyone care.