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Author Topic: Superman games rely too much on brawn  (Read 9483 times)
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tbosky
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« on: November 03, 2007, 07:14:57 PM »

Hello, I'm new here and I joined because I just wrote an article about Superman games and I'm looking for other opinions.  My thought is that Superman games have watered down Supes' powers in order to make combat more challenging, but the result has been twenty years of ho hum games.  I think we should have full access to Superman's powers and we should be able to use them so solve problems/puzzles.  Am I wrong for thinking that a Superman game that doesn't involve punching robots repeatedly might be fun? http://www.gamecouch.com/2007/11/the-problem-with-superman/
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2007, 12:20:14 PM »

Hey, good article, which raises some very good points. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool PC gamer, so I've never really had the opportunity to play any Superman games since they tend to be made for consoles, but all the reviews I've read are almost unanimous in condemning them. Licensed video games are often shoddily put together (it's almost in the nature of the beast), and superhero games have suffered particularly, I feel, though Spider-Man has had some rather better outings.

Games are supposed to be an immersive experience, and they should allow you a lot of wish fulfilment. Playing a Superman game shouldn't be about combat, it should give you the illusion of actually possessing Superman's powers; half the challenge should be about using them properly. It's supposed to be fun, not an exercise in button-mashing. Valve, with their Half-Life games, have shown what insane fun you can have with physics in video games - the gravity gun and portal gun come to mind - and that's the sort of spirit you need for a Superman game. Environments should be destructible to some degree, but the fun of the game is to have a space that you can zip around in doing superstuff. If Valve were to make a Superman game, I'd probably never get much sleep.

One thing that seems to be missing from all superhero games (and it's a strange omission) is the secret identity. As far as I can remember, you never get to play as the character's alter ego, and that could make for some entertaining gaming, surely? Imagine a level set in the offices of the Daily Planet, in which Clark has to get his work done and also find a good place to change clothes: in a level such as that, you could concentrate more on super-hearing and X-ray vision.

It's a sad thing to admit, but I actually think a lot about this sort of thing. I'd also like a third-person Invisible Man game in which much of the challenge would be to not bump into things and make sure you wrap up properly, and a Hawkman game with the flight physics of GTA: San Andreas but the graphics of Hidden and Dangerous.

Incidentally, I just bought a copy of Valve's Orange Box, so I now have an extra copy of Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One to gift to someone, provided they have a Steam account, so if anyone's interested, PM me.
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tbosky
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2007, 04:07:04 PM »

Y'know, I was a 80% PC Gamer/20% PS2, but ever since I picked up an Xbox 360, I've barely touched my computer.  Anyway, it's interesting that you mentioned Spider-man as having had better games -- I think some superheroes have powers that better lend themselves to standard controllers.  For instance, any sort of shapeshifting superhero is hard to represent (or GL's ring powers).

I like what you said about secret identities, too.  I know that some Spider-Man games have had Peter Parker missions which were usually photography based, but Clark Kent missions would be fun.  I recently read Superman: Miracle Monday (which is how I found this site) and Chapter 13 http://www.superman-through-the-ages.com/thebook/mm/?chapter=13 shows Superman having to find a way to cover a series of disasters for the news as Kent while saving people as Superman.  Brought over to gaming, that would be a neat trick to pull off.

As someone who also thinks about games, I think those game ideas are pretty good.  I loved being invisible in Oblivion.  If Portal makes any difference in gaming, I hope that it shows developers/producers that there is interest in shorter, inventive games.  Not every game has to be a blockbuster.
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2007, 09:45:01 PM »

If Portal makes any difference in gaming, I hope that it shows developers/producers that there is interest in shorter, inventive games.  Not every game has to be a blockbuster.

Yeah, exactly, but even more to the point, the blockbuster games don't always need to come from a license. I certainly hope that Portal and other mods will lead to better (and more intelligent) games.

I hear what you say about the 360, by the way; a lot of PC gamers seem to like it. On the other hand, I like to build my own computers, so I'm kind of conflicted.

You're also right about Spider-Man being easier to do as a videogame character. It's always fun in Spider-Man games to just keep pressing the forward button and see him seamlessly walk up the walls; it's a perfect example of what you  can do in a 3-D environment.
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tbosky
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 03:03:06 AM »

Yeah, licensed titles seem to be a double-edged sword.  I think that the days of people automatically buying into a franchise are dwindling.  For instance, Mass Effect is carrying a stronger buzz than any recent Star Trek game and people are calling the new Conan game a God of War clone.

As far as PC vs Xbox 360, the big pluses for me are no install times, no copy protection schemes, and no worries about system requirements.  Plus, I can play on my big tv, on my couch, and still be social. 
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JRJ123
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2007, 09:37:36 PM »

Xbox 360s are good, but I want to wait and see what the PS3 is like when they fully utilise the hardware at their disposal, because some trailers I've seen look phenomenal.

On the topic of Superman games, at least we can all rest assured that there will never again (touch wood) be a game as appallingly woeful as Superman on the N64. My God that was terrible.
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