This time, let’s tackle game mechanics.
As I mentioned in Part One, after the introductory level or scene, Superman’s powers are greatly reduced due to being shrunken down and trapped behind alien glass. As a result, his access to solar radiation is severely limited, leaving him much more vulnerable than usual. To start, you would have flight, strength, and some invulnerability. I thought at first of doing leaping, but it would probably be easier to program just giving him flight at the beginning. Strength would allow you to lift nothing heavier than cars, and even that’s a strain at first. Invulnerability means you can take at least a few bullet shots, but not too many. You would, of course, have regenerating health, though it’s slow at the start.
Basic controls are as follows:
Punching: Square or X, which is pretty standard for most games.
Jump: X or A, though leaping in this case would be equal to Prototype or Spider-Man, where you can leap incredible distances. While disguised as Clark Kent, you cannot leap very high because it’ll give away your identity.
Grab: Circle or B, which would be used not only to grab enemies and do various combat things to them (floor smash, throw them into others, just throw them way up into the air or into the ceiling), but also rescuing people. Rather than an annoying quick-time event, when you see someone falling, you fly or run close to them and hit the button. You could also catch cars in mid-air or lift them and either swing them or throw them.
As the game progresses, you slowly unlock most – if not all – of Superman’s trademark abilities: heat vision, x-ray vision, telescopic vision, super breath, freeze breath, super speed, heightened senses, etc. Let’s break them down a little:
Heightened Senses: Generally, your heightened senses unlock more on the city radar and map. The final upgrade would show all collectables on the map, making it easy to find them all.
Eye Powers: Triangle or Y. You can quickly swap them out in a power selection menu, similar to Prototype (my primary inspiration in terms of game mechanics). X-Ray vision would work much like Detective Mode in the Arkham games, showing everyone as skeletons, and revealing hidden collectibles. Heat vision could be used to force enemies to drop their weapons, disarm weapons on Brainiac robot weapons, as well as meld metal, such as fixing train tracks to allow the Metropolis monorail to run.
Breath Powers: Perhaps one of the shoulder buttons (R1 or L1). Freeze breath could not only freeze enemies in place, but also put out fires. Super breath would be used primarily in combat to knock back enemies.
Flying: R2, which makes you take off or tap it again to drop. Holding down L2 allows you to fly faster. Holding them both down at the same time allows a big, but short burst of speed (which can be upgraded). The big thing here, though, is that there should be dozens upon dozens of different animations as he flies. Flying should be enjoyable, so visually, there should be a lot of variety in how he takes off, banks, dives, etc. If you hold down L2 before flying off the ground, he’ll crouch down ala Man of Steel and then fire off into the sky.
Super Speed: While Superman’s default speed can be upgraded, you’ll unlock what’s essentially Bullet Time. A new meter appears when you unlock this, which will lower while the Bullet Time is activated. Bullet Time duration can also be ungraded. During this time, everything around you slows down, giving you extra time to deal damage to multiple enemies or to catch a falling civilian.
Combat would be very different than Batman or even Spider-Man. Superman’s not generally the type to worry about multiple combatants since he can take them out without breaking a sweat. So, I say that’s exactly what you get to do. In a lot of ways, Superman is a tank; a very agile, flying tanks with various different guns, but still a tank. Early in the game, he can take out regular thugs with general ease. Some combat moves might include spinning on the spot, creating a whirlwind that dazes any nearby enemies, a heat vision arc that melts all guns in that arc, etc.
It would be slightly later in the game when things get trickier. Brainiac might even take control of those thugs, making them mindless drones, and equipping them with stronger weapons.
To be honest, I’m a little stumped on what to do with combat. As I said, unlike the fantastic combat system in the Arkham games, I think this game’s key feature would be in rescuing people. Maybe those of you reading this have some suggestions.
To conclude this series, I want to say that as a Superman fan, I’ve been hoping and praying for a great Superman game that allows me to freely explore Metropolis. Part of me hopes maybe someone at Rocksteady reads these articles and perhaps uses it to create a new, great Superman game. If so, they have my full permission to use any or all elements I’ve discussed. Just, you know, send me a free copy, eh? That’s a fair trade, I think.