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Superman demo doesn't suck, hell freezes

I just downloaded the Superman Returns demo and gave it a quick play through. In short, it's actually pretty good (I invite my fellow 360 Fanboy bloggers to disagree). It seems like for all the crap EA puts on the market, there's always one or two good games, too. It's the law of averages really. After all, if you put out 500* games a year, at least a few of them have to be good, right? Superman, however, is special, and not just because he's Superman either. No, the Son of Krypton has a sordid past in the videogame world. It's arguable that there has only ever been one Superman game that was actually fun, and that was the arcade game -- in fairness, I've never played the NES Superman and I somewhat enjoyed The Death and Return of Superman on Genesis/SNES. Read on for impressions (especially Live Silver members, who, we have just learned, cannot currently download the demo).

Back to Superman Returns. Superman Returns borrows heavily from Activision's excellent Spider-man 2 (which still isn't back compat, by the way). Superman Returns drops the Man of Steel directly in a huge free roaming version of Metropolis (though the demo only gives you a tiny portion of the overall city). From here, you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can blast things with heat vision, blow them away with Super Breath, or freeze them with Ice Breath. The one thing you must do is fly as high as you can and look at the city below. It was at that point that I actually felt like Superman, watching the city below. From this vantage, you can easily spot the trouble markers that pop up in the city and promptly fly straight for them. Flying faster than a speeding bullet from the such great heights to the city below is very cool.

That's what the demo (and presumably the game) really gets right. You do feel like Superman. Other elements, the combat in particular, feel like they could have used more work. The combat isn't bad, but it's not exactly thrilling either. The combat animations are impressive enough, but you don't really feel like you're in control of them. Also, saving citizens one by one and taking them to the ambulance is tedious -- on the plus side, it doesn't seem to have a big effect on the game if you don't save them. The other (minor) quip is that the game doesn't really do anything special in the graphics department. Put simply, the game looks like it could have been done on Xbox. It would have been a great looking Xbox game, but as a 360 title it falls a little flat. It's not a deal breaker, but it's something people will notice. Also curiously absent from the demo is Superman's trademark theme music. Considering the game is tied directly with the movie, you'd think that was a no-brainer.

Overall, the demo paints a good picture for the retail game. I'm not sure how long it will remain entertaining, as flying doesn't require the Tony Hawk-like skill that Spider-man 2's web slinging does, but what's in the demo is pretty solid. What are your thoughts?

*This is a made up number. I have no idea how many games EA actually releases.

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