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Review

Review: Captain America (PS3, 360)

The Best Avenger.

Since SEGA’s successive chain of side-scrolling Genesis hits back in the 90s, the publishing giant has failed to produce a worthy Marvel gaming experience. After a 12-year hiatus we weren’t the only ones hoping SEGA would return and revitalize the license for a new generation of consoles, but this was not to be. When Iron Man launched back in 2008, it may have kicked up a plausible amount of hype prior to release, but ultimately failed to please critics, including us, due to its lacklustre visuals and unyielding gameplay.

Info:
  • Also available on Wii (High Voltage Games) and DS (Griptonite Games)
  • Supports top/bottom, side-to-side and TriOviz Inficolor 3D.
  • Features voice talent from the motion picture.
A few years down the line, and surprisingly, the games got even worse. Iron Man 2 proved just as poor as the original, despite new developer Griptonite Games assuring fans it would almost be a complete re-haul, the recent Thor: God of Thunder proving to be one of the most dire Marvel games to date. With SEGA now deemed as an architect of the typically shameful “move tie-in” sub genre, is there really any chance for the publisher’s latest blockbuster-themed title, Captain America: Super Soldier?


Acitvating your "Super Soldier" ability will make Cap near-invincible. A very empowering gameplay experience indeed.
Like the upcoming film, Super Soldier is set during the Second World War. Believed to be nothing but a myth, a “morale boosting” poster boy conjured up by the media, Captain America appears on the European frontline, ready to relieve his allies of an oncoming Nazi ambush. Though Cap makes quick work of the attackers, it soon becomes clear that these aren’t your standard-issue Third Reich grunts, suggested by their very advanced armour and weaponry which is years ahead of anything the American government has in the pipeline. Twenty four hours later and Cap finds himself skydiving into a Nazi-occupied Bavarian stronghold. To prevent the Nazis from becoming an unstoppable military force he must sabotage the complex and eradicate the mysterious Hydra organisation.

Despite having an entertaining set-up, narrative is one of Super Soldier’s weakest assets. Even with Chris Evans reprising his role as Captain America there is a damaging lack of character, which is quickly made even worse by a cast of under-developed secondary characters. With that said, the game’s main villain Armin Zola, although lacking any superhuman powers of his own, is maniacal and very convincing; it’s a shame the same can’t be said of The Red Skull.

Aside from the tutorial, the entire game will take place within the Hydra stronghold, each chapter represented by individual sections of the complex. Chapters themselves are linear with a pre-set chain of objectives, though in Super Soldier there will be plenty of downtime to explore and un-earth the game’s numerous collectible items. After an hour or so of playing Captain America, it’s easy to see why a number of critics are comparing this game with Rocksteady’s award-winning Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Structure and design isn’t where the similarities stop however; where the two games really start to overlap is gameplay, or to be more specific, combat. Enemies usually come in small groups and will all attack at once. Using a combination of well-timed strikes, blocks, dodges, and counter-attacks, players will seamlessly be able to sweep through an entire cluster of grunts without a single scratch. Blows are landed with brutal impact and at a swift pace, conjuring up some of the most addictive and satisfying melee gameplay you will experience. The more elegantly you perform in combat, the quicker your focus gage will build, allowing you to unleash devastating attacks, usually capable of felling any foe in a single motion. Though it would have been nice to see more variation in terms of Cap’s combat animations, where it really matters is precision and fluidity, two aspects which Next Level Games almost nailed.

Outside of combat, the gameplay begins to falter though not to a damaging extent. Cap has the ability to launch his shield at objects and unsuspecting enemies, having two sections of your focus bar full also allowing players to “weaponize” opponents. When used on Hydra soldiers who carry ranged weaponry, you will momentarily gain control, directing your victim’s fire at his allies. It’s another unique mechanic and one implemented well.


It 'aint exactly Uncharted, but platforming will get you where you're heading.
Getting from A to B isn’t done entirely by walking on-foot, from time to time players will have to indulge in a spot of quick-time platforming. Inflexible and somewhat out of place, the rigid acrobatic display does little to inspire, though one has to acknowledge that its results are still effective.

Puzzle-solving is another inclusion, though ultimately flawed by a lack of any sort of challenge or diversity. The two mini games include a de-coder, in which players have to match two identical on-screen letters, and a short circuit attempt, simply requiring you to slowly edge your thumbsticks together.

Visually, Super Soldier isn’t half as bad as some of the tie-ins we’ve seen in the past, but it won’t tick everyone’s boxes. Animation is certainly the highlight here and really lends itself to the brilliant combat gameplay, ragdoll physic effects adding even more brutal impact as you send you send enemies flying using well-timed attacks. Character models and environments are of good quality, even if there is lapse in diversity; there may only be several different types of Hydra troops but there’s enough to keep the game interesting. Throughout the entire game there are frame-rate issues; though unnoticeable for the majority of the game, they can be distracting, almost ruining some of Super Soldier’s set pieces.

Cap’s shield always hits its mark where audio is concerned. Sound effects are of good quality, especially when in combat, supported by a fitting soundtrack and voice talent stripped from the motion picture. Super Soldier may not have the strongest script, but the inclusion of Sebastian Stan, Neil McDonough, Hayley Atwell, and other actors from the film prevent any embarrassments where their respective characters are concerned.

Pros

  • Rapid, skill-based combat which never loses its appeal.
  • Large environments with plenty of room for exploration.
  • Borrows the likeliness of several First Avenger actors.
  • Challenge rooms and a mass of collectible will suck you back into the game straight after the credit reel.

Cons

  • Narrative is under-developed somewhat.
  • Niggling frame-rate issues can begin to frustrate.
  • Puzzles feel like an afterthought.
  • Main game could have been a little bit longer.

Captain America: Super Soldier is by far the best blockbuster tie-in you’re going to get your hands on this summer. We thought we got lucky with Double Helix Games’ Green Lantern adaptation, but Cap has pulled the title straight from beneath the emerald gladiator with a satisfying combination of Arkham Asylum-inspired combat and unconventional linear design. Instead of being a game exclusively poised at the masses of cinema-going youngsters, Next Level Games has created a title which will appeal to the more devout gamer. We can only hope that other publishers and their smaller development studios take a similar approach when we tread into 2012′s blockbuster season.

Score: 7/10

Version reviewed: PlayStation 3

18 Comments
  1. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Colour me surprised

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:05.
    • shields_t
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      Totally, a movie tie in worth a score higher than 4. I’m still a little wary though, been burned way too often in the past.

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 12:22.
  2. R4U Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Was hoping this was going to be good :) May take advantage of my current free rentals from Blockbuster and play this through

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:12.
    • Jim H [Teabags]
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      It’s certainly worth a rental. Alternatively, the game is available from a number of retailers at around £20-25.

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:29.
  3. Kevatron400
    Drake, baby.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Interesting… I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m playing through Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions at the moment, which (admittedly not a film tie-in) is also a surprisingly adept game in its own right.

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:33.
    • Jim H [Teabags]
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      I’ve seen you playing that. I’m about half way through now, but I’m still at odds with the combat gameplay. It feels too loose for me, personally. Visually, it’s fantastic though.

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:40.
  4. Winkle
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Got this when it released and must admit I’m enjoying it. Love the extra costumes as there is some advantage to wearing them other than just for a different look.

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:39.
    • Jim H [Teabags]
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Ultimate Captain America was a nice little treat, I thought :)

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:42.
  5. Kovacs
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Ah, Captain America. Boldly glorifying performance enhancing substances since 1941.
    ;)

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 09:59.
  6. Rocket_345
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Woah 2 good film tie-ins in 2 days.

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:04.
    • DirtyHabit
      Member
      Since: Forever

      Tis a sign of the apocalypse…

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:20.
  7. doomsday619
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    Looks good but more excited about the youtube buffering video lol found out when it buffers you can use the dots as a game of snake!!

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:42.
  8. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    A great reveiw Jim you Sir just made me purchase this game in a week or so (After I finish off other 2 or 3 games)
    For some reason I am atcually picking up Thor, Green Lantern and now this Captain America. I don’t know why but I love playing superheroes games. My last one was Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions and Marvel Ultimate Alliance! Had fun on these games even Iron Man o_0

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 10:57.
    • Foxhound
      Is a smart cookie.
      Since: Dec 2009

      I love super hero games too. Totally considering the same stance as you on those games…

      Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 16:06.
  9. Origami Killer
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    First Cars 2 and now this! two good movie tie ins, great to see. The film looks good for this and im very interested by the game now :) nice review

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 11:11.
  10. Smallville2106
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Nice review, thanks. I’ll be picking this up for sure when the price is right for me.

    Comment posted on 26/07/2011 at 14:11.

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