Superman: The Man of Steel is a console video game exclusively for the Xbox, released on November 19, 2002. It was developed by Circus Freak Studios and published by Atari in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. It is based on the long-running comic book mythos, as opposed to most other Superman games which are adaptations of the character in other mediums besides the source material.
The story flows out of events outlined in Superman: Y2K, in which futuristic villain Braniac 13 injected Metropolis with a technological virus. Superman was able to prevent it from spreading, but as a result of it, the city was upgraded into a true "City of Tomorrow". Huge high-tech buildings soar in to the sky while hover cars and the Rail Whale bullet train travel throughout.
As the game begins, Brainiac 13 has decided to return to Metropolis and harvest the technology that is residing in the city. This results in massive chaos and danger that Superman must stop. The game moves from areas such as the city of Metropolis, orbit above Earth, a deep space asteroid field, the villain Mongul's Warworld, and the infamous Phantom Zone. The story was written by veteran DC Comics writer Scott Peterson.
Many of Superman's abilities are at the player's immediate disposal. Flight and super strength are inherent, super hearing assists with the game's radar system, X-ray vision is important for searching for bombs or other weapons, and freeze breath is widely used for putting out fires.
Heat vision is mostly used for enemies that have a vulnerability to heat. Super speed has a presence while flying, creating a red and blue streak behind Superman as he flies at the game's allowable top speed.
The game received mixed-to-negative reviews, with many citing a confusing control scheme and repetitive mission modes. IGN called the game "pure kryptonite," stating "I'm convinced Superman has a bottle of Wild Turkey tucked in his back pocket. What else could explain why he's so incredibly difficult to control?" They rated the game a 4.7 out of 10.
Gamespot was a bit kinder to the game, praising the story, the large and detailed environments, and the use of the character's special abilities like X-ray vision. Conversely, they called the enemy lock-on system "problematic" and the game's repetitive timed missions as difficult to complete because of the player's relatively low top speed and low amount of time to complete certain objectives. They rated the game a 6.4 out of 10.
The voice acting was cited as decent for the time, but Superman was said to sound too much like a stereotypical deep voiced, radio announcing superhero.