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.
- 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.
Acitvating your "Super Soldier" ability will make Cap near-invincible. A very empowering gameplay experience indeed.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Version reviewed: PlayStation 3