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Canceled Factor 5 Superman Game Detailed By Former Developer

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Factor 5’s canceled Superman game, codenamed Blue Steel, is one of gaming’s bigger “what ifs?” Despite looking like a promising action game, like an early version of Marvel’s Spider-Man but not open-world, the game was shuttered following Factor 5’s unfortunate closure during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis.

We’ve gotten a few glimpses of what could have been over the years, but now lead designer Salvatrix has shared a huge slew of details on what Factor 5 was building, opening a window to a game that has yet to really come to fruition.

Most notably, Salvatrix shared a video of an early build of Blue Steel’s gameplay, showing Superman fighting common and superpowered enemies, including one sequence where he rams a villain through an office building’s interior. Superman can also be seen punching a villain into a building, leaving a huge streak of cracked bricks and concrete in his wake.

Salvatrix also shared a CG target render video showing what Factor 5 hoped the final game might look like. In the video, Superman is seen fighting Doomsday, similarly throwing him through a building’s interior and grappling with him mid-air. Notably, Superman also manages to explode a pair of city busses with his laser vision.

“We hadn’t seen a game really deliver on that promise [of aerial Superman gameplay] before, and to be honest I have yet to see it delivered fully since,” Salvatrix said. “We had it fully working as a prototype and were shifting to full production when the crash hit. All the main gameplay was in place and had been proven out.”

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Factor 5’s Superman game was aiming to recreate the visual flair of DC’s animated fight scenes, including aerial brawling between Superman and his foes, large urban environments, and even the ability to crash through buildings, scattering office equipment to pieces. Other effects included shockwaves from individual hits, impact marks on the streets and buildings, and knocking an enemy a block away.

While the gameplay was based largely on Justice League animated fight scenes, Salvatrix said that Blue Steel’s world design took more inspiration from the Superman animated series and the architect Hugh Ferriss, whose work influenced the darker, imposing sights of Gotham and Metropolis,

In screenshots, Salvatrix noted Blue Steel’s city had elevated highways, railways, and even airships.

“In addition to us just appreciating the visual aesthetic (and that is worked with the animated series style), the layers of motion at every elevation in the city created a city that felt alive no matter where you were – important in a game where much takes place in the air,” Salvatrix said, citing that the blocky art style helped keep the team’s focus on gameplay in early stages.

Salvatrix similarly shared some concept art of Blue Steel, showing Superman battling with archvillains Doomsday, Darkseid, and even Livewire. But Despite the flashy landscapes, Blue Steel wasn’t planned as an open-world game a la Arkham City or Marvel’s Spider-Man.

“While our engine could (and did) support REALLY large spaces (100-120 city blocks were no prob), we decided smaller set-pieces (20-25 blocks +/-) worked better for gameplay,” Salvatrix said. “So each episode arc would take place on a series of these smaller maps, with notable landmarks in each. We were also not planning on limiting play to Metropolis. We had major arcs planned in Metropolis (of course), but also on Apokolips. And we were at least planning on some maps for ruins of Krypton, Fortress of Solitude, and Smallville.”

Though Superman has yet to get his own modern video game vehicle, he will be appearing in Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad game as a potentially mind-controlled villain.

What do you think of Factor 5’s work on Blue Steel? Does the world deserve such a Superman game? Let us know in the comments below.

Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/Lex Luthor stand-in for IGN (get it, I’m bald).

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