Superman Returns is based on the movie of the same name. You control the man himself as he flies around Metropolis, saves citizens and fights natural disasters, fires and supervillains alike.
You have constant access to Superman’s powers including heat vision, freeze breath, invulnerability and flight at supersonic speeds, though the former two are limited by a stamina bar. Unusually for this genre, Superman himself does not take damage and the challenges are all built around saving others from harm.
Combat is accomplished through melee (you learn new combos as you progress in the game) as well as direct application of Superman’s heat vision and freeze breath. Additionally, you may pick up objects, from the Daily Planet globe to tanker trucks, to throw at villains. You can also rip down a lamppost and use it as a club.
Metropolis is presented as a wide open world where you can fly anywhere and perform any of the side missions at any given time. Besides the main story missions, there are 200 kittens to rescue and many fires to put out.
The basic game is broken up a bit with two rather different sequences. There is a race around the city against Myxyzptlk and a Bizarro mode, in which you must destroy the city.