Superman Deserves New AAA Game On Par With Batman Arkham Series

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Will DC Answer The Call?

Story Highlights
  • Warner Bros. hasn’t given us a proper Superman game despite the character’s popularity among fans.
  • Superman has been featured in games like Injustice but has yet to receive a ground-breaking solo game like Batman Arkham.
  • New technology should finally enable developers to explore the beloved Kryptonian’s complete arsenal through a new title.

DC stories often struggle to make a successful transition beyond the comic medium despite boasting many of the biggest characters and narratives in superhero fiction.

The challenge often lies with the publisher’s struggle to effectively translate these stories. While Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City already established high-quality gaming benchmarks for one of DC’s icons many years ago, the same cannot be said for Superman.

Meanwhile, the recently released Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is anything but a success. Quickly losing players after launch, this entry has failed to live up to the legacy of the Arkham series.

Learning from this setback, Warner Bros. must reconsider its approach to DC video games and respond to fan desires. In my opinion, there is no better time to pursue a Superman game, with the face of comics serving as a means to rejuvenate DC’s gaming endeavors.

Why it matters: Despite constant fan demand, Warner Bros. has yet to deliver a AAA Superman game. The character is just as popular as Batman and Spider-Man, warranting his own solo adventure.

Superman Game Warner Bros DC
Superman Has Been Around For Over 80 Years

The Troubled History Of Superman Games

To say that Superman hasn’t appeared in a solo video game at all would not be accurate, but there hasn’t been a faithful adaptation of the character in this medium.

The Man of Steel does have a long-lasting history in games, dating back to 1979. There are already 30 games featuring Superman, including both standalone and crossover games featuring other characters.

He first appeared in the 1979 Superman game on the Atari 2600 and was last featured in Superman: Returns from 2006, based on the movie of the same name. Technically, there was a solo game after that, but it was released as a minigame that could be played on a plug-and-play TV.

The Last Son of Krypton has recently been relegated to a supporting role in DC games. In the Injustice games, he was an antagonist. Similarly, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League presents a villainous, mind-controlled version of the character.

As a fan, it’s disheartening to see the character treated like this.

Superman From Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League via Rocksteady Studios

New Console Hardware Fixes Technical Challenges

Admittedly, Superman’s powers make him a challenging character to tackle. Super speed poses a technical challenge, while his strength makes it hard to balance a game around the character without relying on cliches like kryptonite nerfs.

However, the latest console hardware already offers a solution for super speed. Insomniac Games recently showcased incredibly fast asset streaming with impressive draw distances for Spider-Man 2.

Using the streamlined PS5 IO and a PCIe Gen 4 NVMe, Spider-Man 2 allows swinging at breakneck speeds. In fact, many have even dubbed it the best Superman game since it presents a similar flight experience when using the web wings.

With modern hardware solving the technical problems, I trust the developers to solve the game design challenges. Even if Superman’s defeat at the hands of regular thugs and grunts sounds unbelievable, suspension of disbelief can go a long way.

After all, Spider-Man has enough strength to toss cars and sustain incredible damage. In one comic panel, a thug broke his hand by simply throwing a punch at the superhero, yet Insomniac Games’ version can die from a few punches thrown by regular thugs.

In the comics, Superman also loses to characters weaker than him time and again since he rarely goes all-out.

YouTube video

To provide a glimpse of what a modern Superman game could look like, a demo was created in Unreal Engine 5 as a proof of concept. While unpolished, this showcase is nothing short of phenomenal, highlighting the potential for a visually stunning and captivating Superman gaming experience.

This isn’t the first instance of Superman being modded into a game since mods for Batman Arkham Knight and GTA 5 highlight the gaming community’s eagerness for a new Superman game.

Another project from three Japanese students showed an even more detailed take on Superman several years ago. Undefeated also featured combat to highlight how a potential game based on the Man of Steel could work.

YouTube video

James Gunn’s DC Reset Is The Perfect Opportunity

DC Studios recently experienced a significant shake-up, particularly in the film department, with renowned director James Gunn stepping in as Co-CEO. Gunn has not only pledged changes for the movies, but he also promises a transformation in the video game department.

The Co-CEO has articulated that future DC video games will interconnect with the overarching narrative of the DC movies, implying that upcoming games will be considered canon within the new DC Universe.

With Wonder Woman also receiving a solo video game in the future, followed by more potential Arkham games, DC Studios would be wise to consider a similar approach for Superman.

While no such game is currently planned, various teams would be delighted to honor the iconic DC superhero. I think DC has made a massive mistake by ignoring Supes for so long, and it’s about time the studio rectified this misstep.

Featured Image Credit: James Sigfield/Twitter

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