Review: Man of Steel (iOS)

Man of Steel seemed like it would give mobile developers an ideal to strive towards. That they would rise behind Man of Steel, they would stumble, they would fall, but in time their games would join Man of Steel in the spotlight. In actuality, this brawler by WB Games fails to stand tall in comparison to games such as Infinity Blade or Horn.

Fisticuffs

Sometimes brawling against the faceless agents of General Zod is no more exciting then engaging in fisticuffs with your best friend over some pitiful dispute such as some trivial fact about a comic book hero. Yet there are moments fist fights in Man of Steel—and that’s all there is—are exciting. Jabs are supersonic. Knuckles are steel. And the crunch and thump of an enemy’s armor is satisfying. Again, these moments are few because the majority of game-play consists of frantically swiping the screen (ensure you don’t have buttery fingers) to beat your opponent to death, and most enemies don’t fight back.

Like any other brawler, combat in Man of Steel consists of swiping the screen to attack, pushing left or right buttons to dodge, and to unleash Super Man’s special abilities you tap a button. Enemies tend to be slow moving or fail to block your attacks. But when they do hit they hit hard, punishing the lazy gamer: and you have to be lazy in Man of Steel to not speed trough the content in an hour.

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When combat enters its movie-like sequences—this would not be a Super Man game if we were denied the ability to fly through the air, taking enemies with us like an eagle—the enjoy-ability of Man of Steel soars. With the correct combination of swipes, you can knock enemies into the air where you can then proceed to pound them with lightening fast strikes, and then, to finish it off, you can throw them into the pavement. If you really want to be a bully, you can drag an enemy through the streets, bulldozing them through the wreckage. If an enemy lowers his guard, you can send them flying into innocent buildings, but like fools, they always come back for a second helping of a knuckle sandwich.

The Graphics Aren’t Ready

The visuals are hit or miss in Man of Steel. Sometimes textures are fuzzy, blocky sprites, most characters lack faces, and all enemies are just recolored to be passed off as new; and, to be frank, some of the enemies look like Big Daddies from Bioshock. Man of Steel is powered by the Unreal Engine, so I expected Man of Steel to aspire to something greater. The problem is  Man of Steel tries to emulate a real world without any sense of style. There is little passion behind the environments and characters. It wants to look like the movie, but fails to recreate the dark tones and gritty feel of its movie counterpart.

Environments are packed, however, which gives the few settings there depth. In the distance you can hear the rattle of machine guns as the military faces off against their alien oppressors. Debris flutters through the air, and smoke and fire rises into the air as if hacked up by some Volcano. Scattered through the streets of Smallville are torched police cruisers and fire trucks, up-heaved roads, and the guts of building spilled out onto the road.

An Origin Story

Man of Steel is clumsily narrated by Super Man’s real father, Jor-El. In-between battles there are cut-scenes rendered in a comic book style, describing the events about to occur, but in most instances it is just Jor-El preaching to Super Man; To be prepared, that Zod’s minions will be a challenge. These mini-speeches get old fast, in fact, the story mode ends short after sixteen sequences with “to be continued”. Man of Steel doesn’t move past the prologue. It doesn’t move into the action that takes place in Manhattan, which was what I was most stoked for. I just hope they don’t expect us to pay for additional campaigns in the future.

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Super Man begins his fight club journey as a weakling as if he had just arrived on Earth. It was through the grind of survival mode I was able to upgrade Super Man’s abilities. Power, health, speed, special attacks, and so on are all upgradable through experience points, which are earned by defeating enemies and wreaking havoc on Smallville. A rich gamer can always purchase experience from the in-app store.

When that feeling sets in where you’re tired of looking at Super Man’s red cape and blue tights, you can purchase a new suit. Each suit provides different bonus stats, which can be upgraded through experience. Of course, buying suits requires a different currency that isn’t as easily farmed; there is always the option to spend real money on it. What is with this sudden trend in the App Store to have multiple currencies?

Rating: 6/10:

The movie is better, but that is to be expected with movie tie in mobile games. Though, I will say that Man of Steel exceeds what Gameloft has ever accomplished with their movie tie-ins because Man of Steel doesn’t attempt to be more than it needs to be. I like to put on the cape and suit for a few rounds of fist fights then go back to regular life. Man of Steel doesn’t re-invent the genre, but it doesn’t do disgrace to it either. If you’re a die hard Super Man fan don’t hesitate purchasing the HD edition. For everyone else, pick it up when it’s on sale.

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