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Man of Steel, a Fighting game by Warner Bros. for iOS, definitely does its job of whetting our appetites for the movie release extremely well. Having gone into this experience without any prior knowledge of the film itself, or even of it’s existence, I can vouch for the game’s efficacy at sucking you into the action straight from the onset.

As is often the case with games of this genre, the whole game’s premise is essentially fighting your way through a series of increasingly difficult stages with occasional boss fights interspersed along the way. As veterans of DC Comics will be well aware, you play Clark Kent, or Kal-El as he was named by his parents back on planet Krypton. As you progress through the game, details of Clark’s origin as well as his destiny are made clear to the audience by the narrator, in this case Clark’s father.

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The reason Clark finds himself on Earth, it is revealed to us, is because his home planet was dying and his parents sent him there as a last ditched attempt to save him. Having lived on earth the majority of his life, Clark emerges from adolescence into manhood to discover that General Zod and his army, survivors from his home star system, are travelling to Earth to assert their command. Clark finds himself embracing his destiny as the guardian of earth in direct opposition to Zod and his generals, who you will be encountering periodically throughout gameplay. One might assume that the mighty superman would make an easy job of this, but one would assume wrongly, as it comes to light that Zod and his army are in possession of similar powers to Clark — both being invigorated by Earth’s sun.

The game itself is split into two modes: story and survival. It doesn’t really matter which you pick first, as the tutorial seems to do a superb job of filling you in on the essentials straight from the outset. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the tutorial does a great job of not making the mistake of mollycoddling the player. It runs you through what you need to know, and then lets you go off and do your own thing. That is to say, unless you keep performing poorly, in which case it helpfully offers pertinent advice until you show you’ve gotten it.

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Defeating opponents in both modes rewards the player with experience, whilst defeating bosses in the story mode (as well as fulfilling certain challenges in survival mode) will reward the player with keys. Experience is used to boost Clark’s stats, whilst keys are used to unlock various suits he can wear.

The fighting mechanics both keep the player engaged and prevent tedium from setting in. I found myself constantly discovering new tactics and ways to respond to some of the problems you find yourself facing. The mechanics do not fall into the trap of being too simple nor too tedious. It may take a while for certain things to click into place with respect to some of the more challenging opponents, but the inevitable Eureka moment will make it all worthwhile.

It is worth mentioning, however, that Man of Steel falls a bit short of the mark with regards to a couple of things. The IAPs are shameless: you can either buy various books which will net you experience, or containers which will net you keys. Taking into account the sheer price of the top tiers purchasable for both, it has all the appearance of an unapologetic attempt to milk further cash from players. One should note, however, that none of the IAPs are necessary in order to enjoy Man of Steel to the full extent of its gameplay. That being said, it is probably necessary to purchase additional keys in order to obtain a few of the high end suits. Additionally, once the story mode has been completed, player’s will find little else to do other than grind through the repetitive survival mode in order to max out Clark’s stats and abilities, as well as unlock additional suits. In this regard, Man of Steel suffers considerably in terms of replayability; it is not one of those games you will find yourself playing for months.

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With regards to graphics, there is precious little to criticize; Man of Steel shines in this area. The impressive 3D locations you’ll find yourself fighting in will provide a stunning backdrop that will, at times, leave you breathless and keep you interested. Character models and their respective animations are well done and quite pleasing to the eye. The developers have really done a great job of utilizing the Unreal engine to very effectively immerse the player. With aesthetically pleasing menus, loading screens as well as artwork during the cutscenes, Man of Steel displays the high production quality that is expected of a large studio like Warner Bros.

While Man of Steel may not be one of those games that lasts through the ages, it fulfils its purpose as an appetizer/companion to the movie well. Certainly for those disinclined to see the movie, or for those with no prior knowledge of Superman, I can confidently say that Man of Steel has enough substance to stand on its own merit. Give this one a go — I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

iTunes Link for Man of Steel HD for iPad:

iTunes link for iPhone:

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