Captain America - Super Soldier Review
Microsoft Xbox 360Also available on Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3
As the new Captain America movie hits our movie screens, to mainly positive reviews it has to be said, the obligatory movie tie in from SEGA is released on multiple platforms. It’s fair to say that SEGA movie tie in’s have been hit and miss, no actually, it isn’t fair, for the most part they are soul destroying experiences. To a small degree though I guess I respect what SEGA are trying to achieve with each release, farming out to a small, cheap development house and giving them a remit of replicating the success of ‘other’ titles with a Marvel licence over the top, but come.... on.... Thor on the 360. NO!
Captain America is a popular Marvel character but arguably not a popular mainstream character, hence the origin story movie, so it’s a reasonable assumption as a consumer of video games not to expect him to have the ‘AAA’ treatment. So is this new action adventure ok, bad or really bad? Without cutting the review short, it’s actually not as bad as previous SEGA outings.
SEGA drafted in Next Level Games for this blatant Batman Arkham Asylum inspired title and they actually do a reasonable job, never reaching anywhere near the heights scaled by our favourite DC character but nowhere near as bad as say.....Thor. It’s clear, pretty much from the off, that the development team loved Arkham Aslyum and that’s fair enough, millions did. Unfortunately that was a truly great game, with, I assume, a much bigger budget and a big team behind it. It’s fine to reach for the stars but ultimately it’s not going happen in time for a movie release.
The decision to set the game alongside the movie is a wise one and as a result we are presented with all the core characters but if you haven’t seen the movie, you are simply introduced to the world of Captain America, zero spoilers.
For those who are new to all of this, Captain America used to be a normal man, Steve Rogers, however, through the use of pioneering technology in WWII he became, well, a superhero. A symbol of hope and freedom in the USA during WWII. The game assumes you know all of this, and thrusts you into the adventure. Basically, if you want to know the origin story, watch the movie or buy the comics, this game is a story starring Captain America, not how he became so.
The game itself is split into chapters, of which there are 18 and there is little variance between them. Factories, offices, ballrooms and some sewers, it's all quite samey. That said, it's fairly vast so the developers are to be commended for the amount of content.
The games setting is actually pretty cool. You are dropped into what is essentially a huge Castle, complete with various key locations, interlinking sewers and all sorts of big guns randomly placed throughout. The setting is classic WWII, but it’s not full of Nazi’s, no, it’s full of Hydra (not Nazi's, honest, ignore the accents), led by the Red Skull (the main bad guy, obviously). The game does a reasonable job of creating realistic environments, without ever really truly impressing the player, if you have played previous movie tie in’s though, you will have seen worse.
Now we begin what must have started life as a big white board session checklist of gameplay elements to copy from Arkham Asylum. Fluid hand to hand combat....got it, ranged combat........yep, kind of open world environments........yep, boss fights........check, collectibles.........a ridiculous amount, some odd spidey sense........yep. The way in which this game tries to replicate Arkham Asylum is both admirable and a bit bonkers, that bar is way too high for a game which probably had a smaller team and a tight deadline, it was never going to be ‘that’ good.
So let’s explore how well they do at borrowing some of the core game elements......
Let’s start with actually just running around, well, it’s a bit jerky. There isn’t the smooth feel of a AAA game at work here, it’s all a bit budget.
There are platform elements, usually to get to an objective or one of the million collectibles but if you thought Uncharted or Enslaved was easy, in this, it is impossible, repeat, impossible to mess up a jump. Press A and it’s all done for you. That removes any risk or skill from this game play element entirely. It actually highlights where you can jump to and you press one button, you can’t even mis-time and fall, it will never happen.
The combat is where the game actually does ok, there is fluidity in the hand to hand combat and the ranged combat with the shield is enjoyable. There are gripes though. Whilst fluid, the combat is easily reduced to button mashing and the game can’t seem to actually keep up with the player. There is almost a feeling of animation lag (probably a much more technical explanation for this but hey), you move from punch to kick, an indicator tells you some-one is about to shoot at you, you hit defend and your character has to slowly come to a stand still before he will react and raise his shield. It just feels a little disjointed and hinders what is otherwise, a simple enough laugh. Ranged combat also has issues, aiming and throwing your shield is easy enough but quick throw very rarely goes where you want it to and your stuck in the throw animation while you wait for the shield to return, leaving you vulnerable.
The boss fights are standard fair, nothing particularly inventive, bash the big guy until his health bar is gone and progress, simples.
Graphically it’s all of a fairly mediocre standard, the menu screen is a highlight, nothing is particularly stand out though. The animation is a little sluggish, some might say “off” but this doesn’t hinder the experience massively.
The main voice actor from the film lends his vocals to the game and I can only hope his delivery isn’t as wooden/out of place when the film itself hits the cinemas on August 5th. The mood is helped by some nice musical touches and the bone crunching special moves sound effects during combat add a nice bit of weight to the combat.
Now to the highlight of the game and not really for the right reasons, collectibles. During that initial whiteboard session there was one guy who said “people loved the collectibles in Arkham”. As a result, they went utterly bonkers with the collectibles in this game. There are so many, all with achievements attached, it’s ridiculous. Being some-one who does like an achievement (or trophy) here and there, I confess, I searched for them all, and I found them all, but damn, there are crazy amount in this game.
Whilst you might think this is trivial, there are quite a few achievements tied to all of them and also some of the challenge arenas (were they in Arkham?........yep!) are only unlocked when you find them. Add to this the fact you will end up missing some action, some enemy chatter or even some story exposition because you are off trying to gather all the collectibles, it’s simply crazy and possibly why they included them all, clear as day on your map.
The campaign is quite short, clocking in at around 5hrs, add to this the ten challenge modes, there isn't a massive amount of content. It's a fairly easy game and the achievements are mainly story (inc collectibles) and challenge mode related, requiring one playthrough and some arena grinding.
In summary, it's a decent effort on a budget, it's solid but never excels. It feels like it would have possibly scaled the heights it set out to achieve if it had more time and more polish.
It’s a rental or a bargain bin title. To put that into context, if I saw some-one picking Thor out of a bargain bin, I would feel compelled as a fellow gamer to stop such madness. However, if I saw some-one picking up Captain America Super Soldier, sub £15, I’d walk on by.