Superman’s no stranger to video games. DC’s big boy scout has starred in his fair share of games, and taken on a supporting role in many others – but he still hasn’t had a solo outing that truly does him justice.
That won’t stay the same forever, though. There have been rumours of a new Superman game coming our way in the past year or so, and we’re bound to get a classic sooner or later. Rocksteady’s Arkham series worked wonders for Batman, creating the ultimate Dark Knight experience – it took time and the right technology to get there, but it was definitely worth the wait. .
Superman’s far overdue for his own Arkham-type hit, but maybe he’s not quite as easy to build a game around. While Batman’s a mortal, human chap with mad skills in detecting, combat, and athletics, he can still be hurt or killed.
Superman, on the other hand, may not be totally unkillable, but developers seem forced to role out the same tricks again and again: enemies are either armed with kryptonite, or they’re super-powered.
The Superman Returns game took a novel approach and gave Metropolis a health-bar, rather than the man himself. That game also nailed the flight mechanics … but not much else.
So, with all this in mind, what do we want to see when that definitive Superman game eventually flies into town?
Epic Air-based Battles
Superman flies. That’s kind of his thing. Take a look at his other skills – shooting lasers from his eyes, shrugging bullets off etc. – and they all pale in comparison to being able to soar up, up, and away.
Previous Superman games have given us air-based combat, but they haven’t been quite as impressive as they should be. Considering the sheer size of today’s in-game environments and the sense of space developers can achieve, there’s immense potential for some epic clashes in the sky.
Just imagine playing as Supes in a massive skirmish against other flying enemies – or even fighter jets! It would take work to nail the mechanics and avoid it feeling clumsy, but if they could pull this off, the developers would give us something unbelievably awesome.
True Destructible Environments
While Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice MAY have overdone the destruction a tad, watching that as a passive experience and actually being in the moment are completely different.
For example, watching Supes and Zod toss each other through one office building after another might get a tad tiresome, but the same scene as part of a battle in Injustice is much more satisfying.
So, we want to see huge, destructible locations in the definitive Superman game. Not just one or two buildings that fall during scripted events, but a fully-vulnerable Metropolis. Imagine having to fight enemies while taking care not to level a highway or derail an elevated train!
You could even have GTA-like ‘rampage’ missions, in which Superman cuts loose and causes as much damage as possible in a certain time-frame. The Superman Returns game actually had a neat mode like this, which let you play as Bizarro.
The in-game destruction back in 2006 left a lot to be desired, but the foundation’s there.
Branching Storylines You Control
Injustice: Gods Among Us did a fantastic job of making Superman the bad guy. Not only was this bold for a AAA title, it also helped to make the character a little more interesting and engaging. Rather than being the near-perfect person he often is, seeing him fall took the game in fresh territory, instead of rehashing a lot of the same tropes we’ve seen in previous games.
In the definitive Superman game, Superman’s actions should affect the story’s direction. For example, if you accidentally kill a bunch of civilians during a fight, rather than giving you a dreaded game over, it should change the way the world views the character. If you keep doing more and more things the authorities disapprove of, you could come under fire – metaphorically and literally.
Rather than having Superman stop say, Lex Luthor taking control of the USA by uncovering his nefarious activities and handing him over to the police, Superman could end up ripping Lex’s head off and killing everyone in his employ.
Branching storylines like this would give players the chance to see new sides of Superman, and also get a deeper understanding of just how hard it would be to use such incredible powers without causing collateral damage.
A Solid Combat System that Makes you Feel Superhuman
We all know the Arkham series nailed Batman’s fighting-style. The FreeFlow system was the perfect choice for the character, incorporating all the athleticism and skill you’d expect.
The same system couldn’t just be rolled out for Superman, though. They’re completely different fighters.
For a start, Supes isn’t trained in martial arts like Batman. He doesn’t need to be. This should be reflected in the fighting system – nothing too flash or smooth.
Instead, the Man of Steel would suit something a little rougher, a little more basic. However, it should be just as exciting and powerful as the FreeFlow system – perhaps the 360-degree style would still work, but the physics themselves would need to feature the right feeling of weight and impact.
We want to see the ground crack when fighting as Superman. We want to feel like we’re truly playing as a superhuman capable of almost anything – not just a tough guy in a cape.
The Ability to Leave Earth
Obviously, a game can only be so big. You can’t have Superman flying from Metropolis to China and back. You can’t really have him just hitting Gotham for a chat with Batman, either.
However, giving Superman the ability to explore a small patch of space would be terrific. Even if it were just to stop a meteor crashing into Metropolis, or to patch-up a returning shuttle, or to fight off approaching invaders.
It’s definitely doable if the developers kept it tight, and could really capture the feeling of being Superman, without the limits faced by so many other gaming characters.
What do you want to see in future Superman games? Let us know!