Game Reviews

Man of Steel

Star onStar onStar halfStar offStar off
| Man of Steel (Game)
Man of Steel
| Man of Steel (Game)

The trouble with Superman, as has been well documented over the years, is that he's too damned powerful. In cinematic terms that makes it difficult to find a worthy challenge (not to mention a sufficient budget) for Krypton's last son.

For games, this power makes it impossible to do the character justice. If you're Superman, the very idea of a health bar is nonsense. Traditional boundaries such as buildings should be about as effective as cereal boxes.

Oh, and you should be able to fly to Brazil in less time than it takes to say "É um pássaro?"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Man of Steel offers no solutions to these conundrums. The trouble is, it doesn't offer much else besides.

Up, up and away

Man of Steel is a tie-in with the current cinematic relaunch, but it's a very loose one. There are scenes roughly equivalent to key points in Zack Snyder's film, but you get the impression Warner Bros. was working off a rough early plot outline and some pre-production artwork.

The game itself can best be described as Infinity Blade-lite, with super-powered punches and heat vision in place of sword swipes.

Playing the big blue boy scout himself, you'll be confronted with a series of pretty bland and generic Kryptonian villains who look like they just ejected from a Top Gun MIG fighter.

You have to dodge attacks using 'left' and 'right' virtual buttons, block by touching the screen, and attack by swiping left or right. You can also grapple by pinching the screen (which sets off a tappy-tappy mini-game) and unleash heat vision and super-speed attacks once you've powered them up.

Smash and grab

It's as basic and formulaic as it sounds. You'll soon get into a rhythm of dodging repeatedly (far more effective than blocking) and launching a combo attack - followed by a crunching finishing hit, which punts your opponent comically into the air.

The main point of interest - at least from a visual stand-point - is what happens at this point. Usually your opponent will crash into whatever's sat behind, be it a water tower, a house, or a fire engine.

Alternatively, you'll get a special event whereby Supes catches his opponent in mid-air, whereupon it's up to you to drag them along the ground and into the path of cars and trees.

At least the developer has nailed Superman's propensity for wanton collateral damage. If this is a more realistic Superman, then he can expect a few calls from Claims Direct. "Injured by an alien demi-god? Don't give up your right to compensation."

Oh, for Zod's sake

There are attempts to create an illusion of depth and value here. There's a comic book storyline that looks pretty nice, albeit not much like the source material.

Then there's the character progression element, which actually makes sense from a narrative perspective. Superman grows stronger throughout the film as he masters his abilities, and so it is here as you plough experience points into strengthening his core attributes.

There are in-app purchases to make, but you only need to splash the cash if you want to dress Kal-El up like his daddy. The real one. The one who looks a bit like Robin Hood. No, the Robin Hood with the dodgy accent. Oh, forget it.

Ultimately, Man of Steel fails to capture the feeling of being Superman. It's not the first Superman game to do this, but its total lack of fresh ideas and compelling gameplay are less easy to overlook.

Man of Steel

Look! Up there on the App Store! Is it a faithful movie tie-in? Is it a decent Infinity Blade rip-off? No, it's the rather mediocre Man of Steel
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.