Superman is fun to play, but lacks needed details

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman! Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a steaming locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I used to love hearing that saying when I was a kid. Superman was my hero. So it’s no doubt I was anxious to try my hand at Titus’s new Superman for the N64. But was Superman 64 all I hoped it would be? Well, the best I can say is that it’s ok.

The storyline basically goes like this: Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luther along with the help of Brainiac, has kidnaped Lois Lane, star reporter and Superman’s heart-throb, and Jimmy Olson, photographer for the Daily Planet and brought them into a virtual reality version of Metropolis. With the objectives pretty clear and straight-forward, the caped crusader flies off to save the day once again.

Graphics aren’t anything to brag about, but they’re not half bad either. You have to address the hero first when you talk on this subject. For the most part, the man of steel is fairly good-looking but he has his flaws. For instance, he looks great when flying around turns, swooping down on enemies, and you get a cool shot of his face and emblem when you make him fly a loop-to-loop. However, it’s when he soars directly straight ahead that his body starts to lose form. The colors begin to mesh and he starts to look like a flying caped rectangle.

The scenery has its good points and bad points as well. When you’re flying your way through Metropolis, you get great eye-catching shots of skyscrapers, bridges, and other tall buildings in full detail. The scenery looks great up there. But it’s when you land on the ground and once there, you start asking yourself, "Where’d the scenery go?" No trees, no street signs, parking meters, store signs, occasional passing cars, or pedestrians are in sight. Small elements like that play a big part in the life of a city are non existent. I mean come on, you’re telling me that Lex Luther and Brainiac, two of the greatest masterminds Superman has ever faced, can’t come up with a more detailed virtual reality of Metropolis?

Gameplay, I must say is the make-or-break area of any game. Control is everything. Believe me when I tell you just learning how to fly and land is a task in itself. You’re gonna have to take a few trips around the corner before you get the hang of flying around Metropolis using your analog stick. You’ll have to maneuver through bonus rings to help you reach your target area and complete your mission objectives. Thanks to my flying experience from "StarFox 64", I caught on quickly to the controls as these two games are a lot alike.

Landing I found to be quite difficult. The controls don’t seem to respond like they should. Sometimes you can get Superman to touch down without any trouble at all. Then other times when you’re ready to land and beat down on some of the local hostiles shooting at you from the ground, he seems to descend ever so slowly, while the whole time you’re getting nailed by gunfire. And since you are in a VR, the bullets even hurt the man of steel.

Which brings me to another key element of gameplay. There are times in the game when camera angles really hurt the accuracy of Superman’s punches and special powers. A couple of times I found myself punching at thin air when trying to hit an enemy in front of me, and more than often my super breath would fall short of the mark. All because the camera angles made it hard to judge the distance between myself and the enemy.

Still, even after weighing all the pros and cons Superman turns out to be a pretty decent game. Graphics seem to get better as you get into the higher levels, perhaps as an incentive? And though gameplay could have used some more tweaking, once you get a feel for the controls and adapt to the camera angles, the game is actually pretty fun. Good quality sound and sound effects are also an added plus. It’s my job as a reviewer to point out the bad with the good, but overall I’m satisfied with this title. I give it 3 and a 1/2 out of 5 GIN gems. And if sales are any indication of value, this title certainly seems to be heading up, up and away.


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