2001 Merchandise & Miscellaneous News Archives

Superman by Infogrames

August 30, 2001: Sneak Peek at Up-Coming Superman Game

A sneak peek at the new Superman video game under development
By Mike Wilcox.

While it's still very early days in the development of this project, the Infogrames team behind the upcoming Superman game recently opened the doors of their Sheffield based studios in the U.K., and were happy to spend as long as I had talking the game up and discussing some of the finer details of the game play. Accompanying me for this tour of their offices was the team's senior producer, Rob Smith.

I began by asking Rob, what kind of game can we expect? "Well, in traditional gaming terms, this next gen version of Superman plays out as a 3rd person action-adventure game, where you, as Superman will have to combat a variety of terrorists and other nasties. The actual game play is a combination of combat, rescue, stealth, and puzzle solving". But of course, setting it apart from virtually every other title in this genre is the fact, as well as running around and blasting things away, you will have the ability to fly, plus use super human powers.

Lois Lane The story behind the adventure sees Lex Luthor come into contact with some evil aliens who provide him with access to a variety of hi-tech weapons, for use against Superman. Lex Luthor of course doesn't like getting his hands dirty so he becomes involved with Metallo, also known as the cyborg killing machine. So it's this deadly relationship, along with a sizeable collection of apocalyptic weapons that is certainly set to put Superman to the test. Of course not all the weapons are available to start out, instead throughout the game there is a steady increase in weapons development, as Luthor's research team reverse engineer the alien technology and apply it to their earth based technology, so for example you'll see an enemy character who starts out with a pistol, which is then upgraded as the game progresses. So during the game's timeline, there is a natural steady progression of different weapons, which will then in turn increase the difficulty level of the game.

All Superman's main powers and abilities will be available to the player, such as the trusty heat-vision, of which there are two version, one is a longer more intense beam that can weld and melt objects, and heat them up, or a shorter pulse type beam which can be used to blow guns out of enemies hands, or knock them over. Hand to hand combat also plays an important part. Moves include standard punches and kicks as well as 3 punch combos, which feature a finishing style move. As part of Superman's super powers, a first person perspective option is utilised in the form of SuperVision which allows the player to zoom in and out of locations around the playing area, which will be needed when scanning buildings for enemies on approach from up above.

Metropolis The game will feature a decent variety of characters, somewhere between 20 and 30 in total, that all play an important role in the game, as it's a heavily narrated, story-driven game. Rob Smith adds, "We worked very closely with DC Comics to do with the plot. All the main characters you'd expect are included, such as Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Super Villains - Livewire and Parasite, plus Professor Hamilton and Angela Chen, who will actually be used to convey information to the player through cut scenes. We've also been careful to design familiar environments so that fans of the series will recognise a variety of locations, such as Strikers Island Prison, LexCorp, STAR Labs, and of course The Daily Planet."

Graphically, the game utilises processes called Cell Shading and texture mapping, helping to give it a real cartoon style look. The DC Comics art director and one of the producers paid a special visit to the Infogrames team, and taught the game's artists how to get the characters actions and movements, and all the environments looking similar to the television animated series.

Parasite While not a lot was revealed about Superman's long list of enemies, I was told to expect 4 main enemy types ranging from grunt level enemy characters, foot soldiers, squad leader, and commanders. Groups of these characters will actually work together to attack Superman, with the use of some smart squad based tactics. The player will also need to think strategically about how to play throughout the game, so for example combat makes up a large portion of the game, but you don't have to use hand combat or heat-vision. Spread throughout the levels will be exploding barrels, which will prove a much more intelligent and efficient way of getting rid of enemy characters.

While it's fair to say, what I saw was very much a test bed of what is being planned for the game, as it's still very early in the development process. The idea behind the game, and the technology being trialed looks extremely promising. When I asked what the timeframe was looking like for the game, Rob told me we can expect to see the finished game on PS2 around September/October 2002.

Copyright © 2001 Mike Wilcox. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the author.

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