Oooh, this could go either really well or really terribly…
So there’s a rumor going around that Rocksteady’s next project, featured on the upcoming cover of Gameinformer, will, in fact, be announced as a Superman game. Bear in mind that this rumor is coming from 4chan. So take this bit of speculation with a fully loaded salt shaker. In fact, even that poster is just showing off a design of the character that appears as an armor modifier in Injustice 2. It’s not official artwork or anything. However, if this rumor turns out to be true, it’d be one heck of a story. Superman hasn’t had a good game in… has he ever had a good game? There’s Injustice, I guess, but that’s not specifically a Superman game.
A Superman game brought to use by the same folks as those who brought us the Arkham Trilogy could be exactly what the Man of Tomorrow needs. Mind you, there are certainly those who wouldn’t care, based solely on the characters, himself. For quite some time it was becoming cool to hate on Superman. While disliking the character is perfectly fine, and anyone is entitled to. It was one of those trends that comes and goes, much like how cool it suddenly became to hate on Pokemon around 2005 – 2006. Yeah. Anyone remember that? In hindsight that was just silly.
Personally, I’m a fan of the character, so if this were to happen, I’d be elated. Buuut there are some natural concerns that spring up. One of the core reasons that Arkham trilogy worked was the… we’ll call it authenticity. The world they built was essentially an even more adult version of Batman: The Animated Series. The game, itself, was essentially an homage to that series and its style. How will they choose to adapt Superman? They could easily use Superman: The Animated Series, of course, continuing their trend of borrowing from the DCAU. But that would be a very different game. Not that the very nature of the character wouldn’t make the game almost entirely different.
Then there’s the elephant in the room – risk. Most games pay off because of perceptible risk. Your character can, in some way, lose. Superman is a character who is inherently designed not to lose. Even in the main plot of the original Injustice, he’s ultimately beaten by another Superman. And can we pause for a moment to just address that the final fight should’ve been Superman v Supergirl, not Batman? Come on. Anyway, the point is that the dude is just about unstoppable. So how do you make a game in which there isn’t any risk to the player character?
Superman Returns tried that. They went with the city having a life meter, rather than Superman himself. This… proved to be less successful than they’d hoped. And Superman is a very easy character to get wrong (somehow). It’d be so simple to make the game extremely boring, or to focus too much on the issue, thus leading to plot contrivances to keep him in check. This is likely something that could be more easily resolved by just playing to one of the powers of adaptation – creative license. Superman is fundamentally a character who is as strong as he needs to be and, conversely, as weak as he needs to tell the story. He wins when he’s supposed to win, he loses when he’s supposed to lose. There’s no rule that says he has to be completely indestructible in the game.
A Superman game could be absolutely amazing. Given the freedom to fly through the city of Metropolis, the ability to use his iconic powers at will, and autonomy to go around saving people from more mundane problems ala Spider-Man 2: The Game. You could get Clancy Brown back for Lex Luthor and George Newbern could reprise the role of Superman, there’s plenty that could be done to give us the same kind of experience, just optimized for the Last Son of Krypton.
I’m really hoping this rumor comes true because I’ve been wanting a good Superman game for years. One that gives you the freedom to really be the character without just being a fighting game, or a top-down RPG. No Justice League games with Superman at the forefront, and no Superman/Batman crossover games (yet). Just a Superman game. And if the rumor turns out to be untrue, it’ll be a bummer, but I’m sure we’ll get that Superman game eventually.
As it turns out, this was indeed not legit. When asked about it on Twitter, Andrew Reiner – executive editor at Game Informer – confirmed that not only would the unannounced game not be on the cover, the cover won’t have anything to do with Rocksteady.
That said, this doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of a Rocksteady Superman game. All this confirms is that it won’t be the story on the cover. Superman is a character all about hope, after all. So maybe fans can still hold out hope for this little dream. Rocksteady’s head of marketing – Gaz Deaves – has gone on record stating that the next project by the developer was going to be mind blowing. Whether or not that’s a Superman project remains to be seen. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll finally have a game that makes us believe a man can fly.