Superman: The Man of Steel (Xbox)

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Superman: The Man of Steel is an action-adventure game released in 2002 for the Xbox, developed by Circus Freak Studios and published by Atari. It's based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name and borrows heavily from its series.

Plot

The story flows out of events outlined in Superman: Y2K, in which futuristic villain Brainiac 13 injected Metropolis with a technological virus. Superman was able to prevent it from spreading, but as a result of it, the city was upgraded into a true "City of Tomorrow". Huge high-tech buildings soar into the sky while hover cars and the Rail Whale bullet train travel throughout the city.

As the game begins, Brainiac 13 has decided to return to Metropolis and harvest the technology that is residing in the city. This results in massive chaos and danger that Superman must stop. The game moves from areas such as the city of Metropolis, orbit above Earth, a deep space asteroid field, the villain Mongul's Warworld, and the infamous Phantom Zone. The story was written by veteran DC Comics writer Scott Peterson, who also co-wrote the story for the later DC Comics video game Batman: Dark Tomorrow.

Villains in the game include Brainiac 13, Lex Luthor, Mongul, Metallo, Bizarro #1, and Cyborg Superman.

Why It Sucks

  1. Superman's flight controls are horrible, and it's worsened by a complicated control scheme.
  2. Akin to Batman: Dark Tomorrow, this game is based solely around the comics. If you haven't read them you'd be in the dark of how the game portrays the characters and pre-existing plot elements.
  3. Speaking of plot elements, while the game has no trouble telling the player Superman's origin story (in earshot of various civilians mind you), when we're introduced to Jimmy, Superman cuts him off when he recaps events from the comic story this game was based on. Way to keep us in the loop.
  4. Iffy graphics. The game itself looks poor and it's barely forgivable because the Xbox was technically more powerful than the GameCube and PlayStation 2.
  5. Any cutscene that isn't the first and last one looks incredibly ugly.
  6. Phoned-in voice acting, with Brainiac 13 being the worst offender.
  7. During the final boss, the AI for Brainac 13 craps out. Ironically, the same thing happened in Superman (Nintendo 64) when you fight Brainiac for the last time.
  8. Your super powers are restricted, while you don't need to collect power-ups to get them to work like in Superman 64, you can only use them on specific enemies based on the color of their targets. The colors hardly even match those associated with what powers you use.
  9. Repetitive objectives, whether it be carrying heavy objects to certain areas (which itself leaves you open for attacks from enemies.), contending with time limits, all while dealing with shit controls.

Reception

The game initially received mixed to negative reviews, with critics ravaging the repetitive objectives and control scheme. The game was covered on Rerez's Just Bad Games series, where he claimed this game was worse than Superman 64 as this came out at a time when developers fully mastered 3D games.

ProtonJonSA, in a prelude to his famous let's play of Superman 64 made a fleeting reference to this game, calling it downright awful.

Trivia

  • This game and Batman: Dark Tomorrow share the same writer, Scott Peterson.
  • In addition, this, Batman and Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis were supervised by the same staff at DC Comics at the time, and all three were based solely on the comics. Quality control was hardly their strongpoint back then.
  • Coincidentally, this was released the same year as another Superman game, Superman: Shadow of Apokolips, arguably one of the better Superman games and one that actually has better flight controls.

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