ByJosh Burrell, writer at
I'm a huge geek and love my comicbooks, superheroes, and video games.
Josh Burrell

Introduction: Hey there guys, I'm a huge fan of Superman and I thought I'd share my ideas towards a Superman game.

Please Note: The story and plot in this article is simply a placeholder since it's not my forte, but I feel this piece incomplete without one. I think a Superman game should first focus mostly on the villains within Metropolis and not the likes of Mongul or Darkseid. I feel that would be too much too soon.

These ideas are from me and me only. Please forgive me for the length, size/quality of the pictures, and any of my obnoxious repetition.

This is a rough draft, and I still need to elaborate more on combat/enemy types/missions as well as thoroughly finalize everything else. (I have ideas for these but still need to contemplate them.)

(I feel just like Arkham Asylum, this game should have an already established background in the sense that Superman is Superman and has foes along with past encounters with them.)

I'd say that the story for a Superman game has to justify why there would be bad guys he can physically beat down or have to battle in other ways. Of course the boyscout can't simply pummel some street walking punk, but he can beat down enhanced beings, or man-made enemies.

Story Synopsis: Lex Luthor is now the President of the United States. Cadmus Labs is testing a super-powered substance known as "Titan", and villains are getting more powerful in the city, from Intergang to Metallo. Clark must investigate in order to uncover how his enemies are growing in their capabilities. The Man of Steel must save Metropolis! (Placeholder)

Note that in Arkham Knight we hear of our favorite bald villain running for President. We also pick up on the rumor that Lex Luthor possibly played a role in Scarecrow's plot in the game, as well as Luthor's interest in Bruce's applied sciences division. I could see Scarecrow giving the very last of the "Titan" to Luthor in exchange for money/resources for his plans in Gotham. Alexander going on to provide it to Cadmus in order for them to refine it's potency while also stabilizing it. The test subjects would serve as some of the enemies we'd encounter. The fascination with Bruce's applied sciences could be the result of him wanting to speed up the process. Of course my thoughts to this get more in depth, but I'll stop here.

Voice Actor: George Newbern hands down. His voice is iconic to Superman, nearly in the same sense that Kevin Conroy's is to Batman. He is also capable of showing more than enough emotion for what I would like to see in a Superman game.

For example: At the 2:13 mark in this video.

Developer: I believe either Rocksteady or Avalanche should make the game. Obviously Rocksteady has it's past with Batman, making fantastic story/gameplay driven tales for one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. I also feel Avalanche could do it thanks to their experience with the Just Cause games, though of course I'd trust Rocksteady more given their incredible work with the Arkham series.

For example:

My favorite part of this whole trailer is definitely the beginning. I love how the environment around him looks as he's falling through the sky. I can just picture Superman's cape raving around as I soar through beautiful clouds drenched in sunlight, with inspirational music at my back.

Appearance: In Arkham Asylum, Batman had his own look given to him that is original to that game, while also being inspired and looking like Batman should. When I think of how Superman should look in this game, I lean towards something like this. I'm mostly talking about his face/hair and the perfect size of the "S" symbol. The suit of course would be something original, but inspired.

New 52 Superman.
New 52 Superman.

Gameplay: The gameplay will be centered on feeling like you are Superman; you are a very powerful force of good that uses your abilities to save lives and to go toe to toe with other strong enemies in epic combat such as Bizarro, Atomic Skull, Metallo, Lex Luthor (Armored), etc.

I'll reference Superman Returns: The Videogame (2006). Many think the game is horrible. I'd say it's slightly below mediocre. Tons of elements in this game work when you actually think about it and could be improved upon in order to make the perfect Superman game. We'll discuss problems, improvements and ideas that could be implemented. First?


"Overpowered": Many people think it isn't possible to make a Superman game because they feel he is invincible or overpowered. I believe this to be false. In the Arkham series, Batman isn't really nerfed whatsoever. Superman is always holding back so he doesn't hurt anyone, which gives reason as to why you wouldn't be able to do anything super intense in the game unless it calls for him to use such power, which makes for some really awesome plot points. Even then, if this was an issue then a developer could make him something akin to "Man of Steel" Superman. Still feeling powerful, but not "ridiculous."

"Zero" to Hero: Something Superman is famous for is switching from Clark Kent to Superman in a phone booth. I feel this can be a very powerful feature in the game, going from Clark Kent to Superman at will. His transformation could be done at almost anytime (certain missions would prevent this feature) via super speed. I feel when the player chooses to become Superman, that there should be an animation just before it happens where Clark pulls the clothes on his torso apart to reveal the S symbol before becoming a blur that quickly changes colors. Interacting with objects such as a phone booth will also allow use of this feature if the player really wants to. In Arkham City, Bruce Wayne suits up to become Batman. Myself as well as many others found this to be very empowering and awesome. I haven't seen a superhero game use this as a common feature.


Upgrades: Given everything that is going on in the story, it pushes Superman to not hold back as much. This will make sense since the gameplay could be a tad difficult, but doable (ala Shadows of Mordor.) Progression will make things easier, but not easy enough to pull down the experience or rid the player of any fun. They will make you feel more powerful and badass.

Super Strength: This power will allow you to punch enemies long distances, through buildings, beat them into the ground, and knock them senseless. You can utilize your surroundings by picking up objects whether it's a car being thrown, or hitting them with a light pole. Your punches will create shockwaves when hitting a foe with a charged attack and when your hit counter becomes charged, making punches do more damage as well as look more brutal. Super powered finishers can be performed when the hit counter is charged as well (Something like Prototype and Shadows of Mordor/Batman put together.) These could include aoe special attacks like a ground slam or thunder clap that hurts/disorients enemies. Using these slows things down before Superman performs them. These don't rely on stamina, nor does punching, flight, and non harmful visions. One finisher I'd like to see is what I like to call "Up up and away!" which has things slow down, Superman speeding toward an enemy and delivering a very powerful strike under their chin that sends them into the sky. The other 2 finishers I've thought of are AoE based, while this one is single target.

Do apologize for the quality of this one.
Do apologize for the quality of this one.

Flight: This seemed to be peoples favorite thing about Superman Returns, as it was well done and made us feel most like Superman. The feeling of traversing through the air at hypersonic speeds averaging at 800 mph is a rush, especially when you break the sound barrier. Though, I feel it should be kicked up several hundred mph via upgrades throughout the game in order to get around the city faster, feel more intense and empowering, all while giving a sense of progression. Flight will play a part in combat, as well as traversing around the large open world. The cape needed work animation wise as it seemed to move rather slowly no matter what you were doing. It should instead behave much like the cape shown in Man of Steel (2013). Players could also toggle a 1st person view while in flying through the air.

Fantastic city.
Fantastic city.

Flight Combat: You will be able to fly with enemies. Locking onto your opponent will leave them prone to using a flight attack if knocked away or up in the air (Uppercutting, hitting them with a charged punch, or throwing/blowing them through the air) while you are locked on. The flight attack is performed by holding Y (Xbox) or Triangle (Playstation) while locked on, which will activate your flight and launch Superman towards his enemy so you can continue through the air with your adversary. Throughout the game, upgrades will allow you to fly faster with your opponent, dealing more damage if you fly them into the ground or through buildings. Upgrades will also allow you to punch your enemy at super speeds while soaring through the air and eventually being capable of using "Heat Vision" while doing so. If you are not locked on, then holding the flight button will launch you skyward and trigger flight (ala Superman Returns, but will look more like Man of Steel's first flight scene).

Super Speed: The player can walk, run, and fly with speed in certain senses. "Super Speed" can be used while running, allowing the player to sprint at speeds of 150 mph or even faster. It can also be used during flight to boost your speed beyond that of sound. Some attacks will use this power.

Slow down, grab the Flash.
Slow down, grab the Flash.

Perception Speed: This will be toggled, allowing the player to witness actions around them in slow motion and will be used to combat speedsters, as well as save lives.

Burst Powers: While "Perception Speed" is active, powers will become more abrupt and lighter verions, while still packing a punch. "Heat Vision" will become "Heat Blast", while "Freeze/Super Breath" turns into "Freeze/Super Gust". These can also be amped to hit much harder and send enemies flying.

Like this, just probably not as fast.
Like this, just probably not as fast.

Amped Powers: "Heat Vision", "Freeze Breath", and "Super Breath" will be bound to the D-Pad. Selecting the same power twice will switch to a more powerful version of that ability (ala Superman Returns.)

Balance: There will be a good balance between the use of "Heat Vision", "Super Breath", and "Freeze Breath" to handle natural disasters, save lives, and stop evil doers. All powers can be useful and prominent in combat if the player so chooses. These 3 abilities are very versatile.

Freeze Breath: This power can be used mid combo, hitting your rival with a gust of icy wind in order to freeze them so you can extend your combo. Amping this will freeze multiple enemies for an extended duration, while using it during "Perception Speed" can freeze enemies to the ground, preventing them from moving for a short time. This power can also be used to assist in fighting natural disasters, putting out fires of all kinds as well as utilizing it for smaller objectives.

What killed the Dinosaurs? The Ice Breathe!
What killed the Dinosaurs? The Ice Breathe!

Heat Vision: This ability is possibly the most useful in Superman's arsenal. It can be used while flying and punching your enemy at super speed, to simply blast your opponents with to deal damage or to knock down most enemies. It'll be used to save lives, heating up the weapons of thugs, blasting powerful enemies through buildings and more.


X-Ray Vision: Much like Arkham City's "Detective Mode" this will serve the purpose of seeing through walls to view enemies and solve objectives. This will be an important ability when doing missions as Clark Kent. This should look far more natural than Batman's utility (seeming less technology based.)

Scene from Man of Steel.
Scene from Man of Steel.

Super Hearing: This will be the power used to alert you of dangers throughout Metropolis. Situations that require Superman's attention will ping the player to a location somewhere in the city. The noises being heard can help describe what is taking place at the pinged location. Superman Returns: The Videogame kind of did this but I feel it could be far more elaborate and interesting.

Telescopic Vision: This will work together with Super Hearing to identify jeopardies from a long distance in order to give the player freedom of choice between life threatening situations. Whichever they choose can give them XP but sacrificing some of the cities health (Powerful gladiator damaging the city while a plane is going down somewhere else.)

Of course, it wouldn't be that potent. Haha
Of course, it wouldn't be that potent. Haha

Enemy Types

(I think Superman could have a health bar under certain circumstances throughout the game. Fighting the likes of Mongul and others who possess the capacity to kill him would push the player to be more cautious.)

(Knocked down enemies can be beat down into being destroyed/K.O.'d by using ground finishers (somewhat like Shadows of Mordor/Arkham series.))


Superman Returns has a very limited number of enemy types where, in every case, were either super-powered mutants or robots, which is fine to include among more enemy types, but only if not superfluous. There were no ordinary thugs, crimes, civilians in danger (non Superman/enemy combat related), accidents, or natural disasters throughout the game (except for the first and last levels (Meteors falling to Earth/Tornado)). Ordinary crime could be handled with little effort from the boy scout, so many deem this boring. Whether it's a thug robbing a bank/store, beating up a civilian or snatching a purse, I personally feel it could be made empowering, fun, and even humorous by having Superman's actions "behave" differently against normal thugs in the sense that his physical attacks and his powers will become more delicate, making it possible to use your powers lightly on regular criminals.

For example:

1. Freezing a thug in place, and using a light melee or other action to K.O. (refer to point 4.)

2. Heating up their weapon/freezing their hands if they attempt to take a hostage as leverage to get out of the situation, and continue with light melee or other action to K.O. (refer to point 4.)

3. Blowing them down with a firm gust of wind (chance of K.O.)

4. Making Superman interact with them differently than he would meta-humans. For instance, instead of punching them through a building, have Superman capable of performing light takedowns at the push of button such as flicking them, slapping them, or shoving them back several feet with a light touch from the palm of his hand. All of which would K.O. the thug, where the player could proceed to either taking them to the police station or leaving them for the police by using a button to start a super speed animation that runs around them at blurring quickness, tying them up.

5. If a thug does fire a shot at a civilian (not close range), I believe there should be a way to toggle super speed that affects your perception that would allow the player to see everything in slow motion (Smallville series) so they could simply move in front of the bullets or walk towards the rounds and hit a button to either deflect or catch them (ala Arkham series' countering system.) Too far away from them? Using the lock-on feature while "Perception Speed" is toggled to target the bullets can be useful by applying your powers to eliminate them. Melting, freezing, or blowing them to a halt with your "Burst Powers."

Super Speed Enemies:

Of course there should also be enemy types that challenge Superman's abilities. Enemies with super speed can require toggling "Perception Speed" to defeat, otherwise they're practically blurs hitting you and are not capable of being locked onto. You can take them out via super speed fighting (Toggled and uses Stamina bar but allows you to hit enemies faster) or your "Burst Powers". To rebuttal, players could do a number of things, like toggling "Perception Speed", allowing you to counter (ala Arkham series and spends stamina bar) in order to hinder them and then apply the beat down. A well placed/timed AoE attack can also slow or daze them ("Thunderclap" or "Ground Pound.") There are different ways that these fights could be handled.

For example:

1. Using "Freeze Breath" with or without "Perception Speed" toggled to halt them in place, and proceeding to strike them however you'd like.

2. "Heat Blast" will knock them down, where Superman can continue to strike the foe as he wishes.

3. "Super Gust" will blow them off their feet so the player can overpower them afterward.

4. As stated before, a well placed/timed area attack will slow/daze them as well.

Super Strength/Durable Enemies:

Enemies possessing super strength and durability will give some of the most fun fights I've had the pleasure of thinking about. They will be able to grab, punch, and throw you through buildings, while also being capable of stomping you into the ground. They will be able to take and deal blows with you. Their greater invulnerability will allow them to take lots of damage. Players should encounter no more than 2 at one time. A number of our protagonist's super villains are capable of this. Factor 5's cancelled Superman project is a good example of this. The concept trailer seems like quick time, but at the same time it doesn't. It looks like Superman flew him through a building in which it restricted the player into dragging the beast along the floor, ceiling and through desks until they exit. It appears that Doomsday attempts to resist afterward but ultimately fails against the Man of Steel. Of course, I feel there should be some way for enemies to retaliate when flying through the air with them. This is something I have thoughts for, but am currently still contemplating.

For Example: Note the quality is poor and I am again sorry.

1. Stunning an opponent leaves the player open to choices in combat. You could start punching them and hit them with an uppercut mid combo or wreck them with a charged punch. This sends the enemy into the air. You can continue by locking on and launching yourself towards them. You can punch them while flying and go on to slam them into the ground or through a building.

2. You can chain combos together with your powers. From hitting your enemy with a gust of "Freeze Breath" mid combo that chills them to a standstill. This allows you to chain along another combo (This will be balanced and won't be spammable) or knock them in the air and finishing them with an amped power or starting a flight attack.

3. Continuing a combo all the way through will knock your enemy down. Superman will have ground takedowns that have him use strong punches to destroy/incapacitate his foe (like in Shadows of Mordor and the Arkham games.)

4. Having enemies who can fly can require flying into your adversary or hitting them with your powers to slow or stop them.

Of course this is a must.
Of course this is a must.

Metropolis: After much thought, I feel Metropolis should have health (possibly divided into sections) while giving Superman a stamina bar (and health bar for certain situations) for his powers on much like in Superman Returns. Eventually, there should be an upgrade that makes the stamina bar infinite, and a cheat for the city health. The city's health can be invigorated by stopping crimes, natural disasters, super powered foes, and rescuing the city's inhabitants.

Map: Superman Returns: The Videogame did a very poor job here. In size, the map was good but was clumped together and surrounded by a mountain range. When I envision Metropolis, I see something like a great city that is possibly divided into parts, some being bigger than others. The map must be very large. Superman Returns had an 80 sq mi. map, which is big but can definitely be outdone. Something 1/4 the size of Just Cause 2 but with more city sounds good. This allows the player to not feel like they can fly around the whole city in 10 seconds while also making sense of natural disasters, etc.


The People: The A.I. for the civilians of Metropolis needs to of course, be relatively smart, but also very capable of running and getting away from dangerous fights between Superman and his opponent most of the time. Ideally, I would have a Superman game try to keep hurt citizens between 2 - 3 unless under certain circumstances. Superman Returns had injured civilians, which is good if you don't have 10 people needing to be carried to the ambulance. Cases like this influence the player to maybe carry 1 or 2 of them to the emergency vehicles, while leaving any others behind because they feel it's too tedious. This takes away from the experience of feeling like Superman. Honestly, it made me feel kinda bad, even when I couldn't help it because sometimes the EMS would be far away, and the injured victims would disappear off the map. It would do nothing but refill the city's health, which is a great idea but I think there should be something extra in it for the player, so it's more rewarding to do good.

For example:

1. Civilians who are in their cars should stop what they're doing, and start running when danger is close or can be seen from a distance. The same goes for pedestrians.

2. Citizens cannot be harmed/targeted by Superman's powers (ala CoD friendly fire/can't use abilities when pointed at innocents.)

3. Carrying the injured to a hospital or close EMS should yield an experience bonus to spend towards upgrades while also regenerating a fraction of Metropolis' health.

4. Civilians can help each other get away from danger, to a nearby ambulance, or call an ambulance to help. This is a good idea which allows for more citizens to be injured to improve immersion, while leaving some for the player to save if there are any.

Natural Disasters:

Now, this game needed more common occurrences. You'd get the occasional building on fire, but nothing else that seemed rather typical or "everyday." The first and last levels are natural disasters. Something that I believe should arise, but somewhat rarely while playing.

For example:

1. I could see Metropolis having something much like New York's "Central Park", and under certain weather conditions, there's a chance lightning could spark a wildfire which could call for your super breath or a way of supplying large amounts of water. Building fires would also be a random occurrence.

2. Metropolis lying close to large body (or bodies) of water (optional and could remain landlocked) which render it possibly prone to tsunami's and large waves which can be taken care of via super/freeze breath.

3. Earthquakes occurring and resulting in unavoidable damage to the city, but causing dangerous situations for some of the populace.

4. I feel meteor showers should also transpire. The player could destroy them in different ways depending on their size. Brute force by flying straight into them can destroy small - big meteors, while heat vision can destroy small - medium. Grabbing one while flying and slamming it into another can save time.

5. Tornadoes. Of course, these can range in size. The player could get rid of them in different ways depending on how big or small they come. A powerful thunderclap could dissipate it. Switching to the "amped" super breath and blow it away. Flying around inside/outside of it in the opposite direction to get it to vanish. (Flying the wrong direction will increase size.) Building up a very high speed while flying and then soaring through the vortex will also expel the twister.

Godlike stuff.
Godlike stuff.

Heroic Acts: Superman's "Telescopic/X-Ray Vision" while looking at pings from the players "Super Hearing" can be used to see dangers from long distances. This helps the player to make their decision towards what they would like to go after. The player deciding and going to their chosen situation will make the other disappear most of the time (without penalty), depending on what the crisis is (e.g. Putting out a building fire and then stopping a villain who is rampaging somewhere else in the city.)

Ping to Superman via "Super Hearing" by a sinking submarine calling for help. Player must dive into the water and lift the submarine, placing it safely upon land.

Super Hearing will ping Superman to a falling plane in the sky somewhere on the map. The player must get to the plane, grab it and level it out or put it gently on land, depending on whether or not the plane is on fire (simply a visual indication of what action needs to be performed.)

Ping to a train that has been sabotaged and Superman must stop it before it crashes, killing innocents.

⦁ Hearing a getaway car and subduing the bad guys before they can manage to get away.

Destruction: I do not feel that buildings should topple and be destroyed as a result of the player fighting evil. But the buildings that do get damaged can be repaired via super speed animation, (holding down a button to interact with the building and restoring it by flying at speeds that make you out to be a blur) providing XP to the player if they choose to take the time to go the damaged building and perform the repair. If the player does not do this then construction teams will be shown at that building later, fixing it in a fair amount of time. The construction workers will call out to Superman and ask for help with the work load, leaving the option to fix the building and gain XP open for you unless the player decides to leave it to the A.I.

(Flying into most objects won't stop Superman. They will be destroyed/deformed and damaged.)

Something like this.
Something like this.

Lois: You will assist Ms. Lane with low-profile objectives as Clark Kent. The placeholder for this mission type is "Subtle Missions." As Superman, you are able to take Lois out on brief dates in the city. These side quests will entail Lois wanting to go to a certain location in Metropolis. The player will fly to her desired spot. (Flying through rings anyone?) Depending on where you are in the story, the characters will talk about certain things pertaining to your current progression. The player will fly Lois back to her apartment and emotionally wish the lady goodnight. I think this should occur only a few times tops, with something bad happening during one of them. I have not decided whether or not Lois should know his secret identity. I feel her ignorance of his alternate persona would improve "Subtle Missions" in a number of aspects. This could happen as a surprise in a future installment.


Space: I think of this as a special place for Superman. The player can fly here by heading skyward and possibly hitting a point that activates a seamless loading screen of the them flying out of Earth's atmosphere and having Superman float there. I feel this could be much like Bruce's Crime Alley feature in Arkham City. Very inspiring music playing while floating above Earth and maybe having a slight green glow off in the distant of space that represents Krypton. Flying towards the North Pole will take the player to the Fortress, while flying towards anywhere else will fly them back to Metropolis. I believe this to be pretty feasible.


Fortress of Solitude: I feel players should be able to get here from Metropolis or space by flying towards it or through the pause menu. Costumes and game modes can be accessed by using a crystal terminal. The player will be able to enter challenge maps through this as well.


Other Notes:


Young Justice

Man of Steel

New 52

Solar Suit

Red Son

Superman TAS

Christopher Reeve


Control Scheme: Using PlayStation controls. When flying with an enemy the player must use the left analog stick to fly.

⦁ L2: Lock-on

⦁ L1: Perception Speed/X-Ray Vision

⦁ R2: Use selected power

⦁ R1: Super Speed

⦁ Square: Attack/Hold for charged or blitz punching

⦁ Triangle: Flight/Hold to launch/Hold while locked on to charge enemy in air.

⦁ Circle: Grab/Throw/Pick up/Put down civilian

⦁ X: Block/Dodge

⦁ D-Pad Up: Heat Vision/Amped Heat Vision

⦁ D-Pad Left: Freeze Breath/Amped Freeze Breath

⦁ D-Pad Right: Super Breath/ Amped Super Breath

⦁ D-Pad Down: Put down civilian/object

⦁ Left Analog: Move

⦁ Right Analog: Move Camera/Aim/Flight Control/Press for 1st Person during flight

⦁ Touchpad: Map

⦁ Super Hearing is passive

R2 + Square: Ground Takedown

Holding Square + Circle w/charged hit counter: Up Up and Away! (Powerful uppercut)

Holding Square + X w/charged hit counter: Ground Pound

Holding Square + Triangle w/charged hit counter: Thunder Clap

Thank you for reading and I'd love for you to share this article as well as your thoughts on it as well as what superhero I should do next in the comments! Have a super day!


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