Last time, I discussed the main story in my ideal Superman game. It’s still a rough idea that could definitely use fleshing out, but it gives you the general gist. This time, I want to talk about side quests. In a sandbox game, I feel it’s important to give the player side quests that are just as fun and interesting – if not more – than the main story. Let’s get right to it!
Some readers have made suggestions for side quests, but there’s one rule I want to establish right here and now: no crossovers. There will be no appearances by Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, or even Ambush Bug. The only appearances made in the Arkham games were within the Batman mythos (with the exception of maybe Solomon Grundy, who has jumped around, but has been a part of the Bat-mythos at times). Like the Arkham games, I want to focus on primarily Superman’s mythos. Fortunately, he has a pretty rich mythos.
Random Acts of Heroism
As I said last time, one thing that separates Superman from Batman is how he deals with the public. Whereas Batman is best known for scaring and beating up baddies, Superman is well known for rescuing people and I think the game should reflect that. Similar to Spider-Man 2, there will be people in distress all around the city. They’ll show up on the mini-map, giving you time to get to them. This could include the following:
-A derailed train
-Someone stuck in wreckage (possibly burning)
-Burning building (requiring you to not only rescue those inside, but put out the fire)
-Children looking for their mommy or daddy
-Absolutely no errant balloons to return to a child (Spider-Man 2 made us suffer enough with this)
-Cats stuck in trees (just because I think it’s cute)
Now, two things. First, there is no penalty for going past distresses. You shouldn’t be penalized if you want to push through the city to the next story beacon. Second, similar to Superman Returns, you regain health and gain other bonuses for rescuing people. Rewards are completely random, but include bonuses like increased flying (or leaping) speed, damage to hit bonuses, endurance to damage bonuses, and increased bullet-time. We’ll get to that in the next part in this series.
Now, obviously, there are trophies to earn from rescuing X number of people. Maybe even a trophy for each category. In addition to a trophy, you should be give the option of turning off the radar blips/events if you’re tired of rescuing people. Similarly…
With Metropolis bottled off, criminals are taking advantage of the chaos. Crimes to stop will include:
-Purse snatchers and muggings
-High-speed car chase
-Brainiac robot sightings
-Gunfire between cops and criminals (later: robots)
Once again, putting a stop to any of these crimes gives you a variety of boosts.
Adventures of Lois & Clark
Similar to Prototype’s ability to disguise yourself, so too can you change from Superman to Clark Kent. This is especially necessary in order to move about in Suicide Slum. You see, Intergang has taken over it, placing deadly goons with unknown, alien technology on every rooftop just waiting to blast the Man of Steel out of the sky. It’s too early in the game to go in guns – or heat visions – blazing, so a subtler approach is needed. Especially if you want to reach your friend John Henry Irons, who may have a device to boost your powers or a suit to deal with The Parasite.
Early in the game, one of the story missions include you and Lois investigating Luthor’s involvement in the mysterious barrier. After this, you unlock the ability to investigate Intergang, sneaking into Suicide Slum as Clark (with Lois!). Here, your powers are limited to vision powers (x-ray, heat vision, etc) and you can’t blow your identity, obviously. Here, you’ll investigate offices owned by Bruno Mannheim. As you gain evidence, the Metropolis Police Department can come in and clear out that area.
Later, similar techniques will be used in order to take down Brainiac installations that appear throughout the city, essentially destroying them from the inside. You and Lois get in by pretending to be mind-controlled citizens being corralled into the installations. From there, you sneak through and slyly cut important wires and pipes in order to take it down.
On the Air with Livewire!
Livewire, former shock radio jockey and current shock supervillainess, has taken over the airs. Which one, though? All of them, it seems. Simultaneously. Her broadcasting all over Metropolis is creating more unrest and panic than the city needs. She needs to be stopped. But how? She’s living lightning.
For this series of side-missions, I’m thinking this is where you have the usual race against the clock mission. Livewire is firing herself through cables all through the city, so you need to cut her off at the chase, cut off the wires in the transformer before she can reach them, and then have a brief fight before she gets away. At first, she humours you as you can only keep up with her with leaping, but soon enough, you’ll need to fly after her and also use the bullet time to keep up.
Bibbo’s Bar Brawl
While visiting Professor Hamilton at S.T.A.R. Labs, he tells you they received a call from Bibbo, just as the edge of Suicide Slum. Turns out, intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo is in town, refusing to pay for his drinks, and just being an overall bad guest.
This one side-mission is probably the shortest. It’s really just an excuse to have a knockdown, drag out brawl in the middle of the city. In the cut scene before the fight, Superman locks Lobo in a full-nelson and drags him across the street to an abandoned construction site. Here, you’re allowed to use everything at your disposal, such as swinging a wrecking ball.
There would be a couple of these as story missions, but once or twice during the game, you’ll also face giant monsters. These massive beings are as tall as some of Metropolis’ tallest buildings and take a LOT of damage to take them out. However, it’s more than just taking them out: they also cause a great deal of collateral damage, leaving civilians needed to be rescued (while also giving you boosts to take down the boss). Obviously, this uses the civilian rescuing mentioned earlier.
The first time, Brainiac (or possibly Luthor) reverses the shrinking ray on a monkey at the local zoo, making it titanic size. In fact, some are calling him…Titano! (old, rarely used Superman villain from the Silver Age). Once you take him down, STAR Labs takes the poor, scared guy away. This would probably include some short, pinpoint quick-time events that involve tying him up. Perhaps a point where you need to trip him with some cables tied (or burned with heat vision) from one street corner to another.
The second time, perhaps Titano breaks out again, but this time, Brainiac has upgraded him with Kryptonite vision.
The third time, no more fun and games, as Brainiac unleashes something of his own concoction: Chemo! A giant being made entirely of horrible, burning chemicals….and he’s leaking all over the city.
What open world game would be complete without some collectibles? In fact, the Riddler trophies were a high favourite for many Arkham Asylum and City players. Aside from perhaps Prankster, Superman doesn’t really have a villain with an easy to translate collectible like The Riddler. And let’s face it, even if he pre-dates Riddler by six years in the comics, Prankster feels like just a lame rip-off of Riddler. So what to do?
I have two suggestions. One or both could be used, but perhaps just one and save the other for a potential sequel. The villains? Toyman and Mxyzptlk!
Toyman has captured a number of children in Metropolis and is holding them hostage. Unless, that is, Superman can find all the toys – large and small – hidden throughout Metropolis. Maybe the excuse is that each toy has a hidden radio jammer that needs to be destroyed in order to locate his lair. Unlike the Riddler trophies, you wouldn’t require new powers to access all of them. Rather, new powers would help you find them all easier or faster. Finding all of them, you track down Toyman’s lair, where you rescue the children and then have to face Toyman, who is piloting a giant toy or doll. So it’s another giant monster fight, which I think would be a lot of fun.
With Mxyzptlk, maybe he’s doing all sorts of weird stuff in the city and you need to either stop them or at least photograph them (using a camera you have as Clark Kent). This could give the developers a chance to include all sorts of little Easter eggs, like the Riddler clues you need to scan (pictures, posters, objects, etc.) Personally, I always enjoyed finding those more than picking up the physical trophies, even if they were easier.
That’s about all I have (for now) for side missions. I think that leaves a LOT to do in Metropolis. Next time, I’ll cover game mechanics themselves and how they change and upgrade through the game.