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Captain America: Super Soldier – Xbox 360 Review

To say SEGA’s time with the Marvel license was a bit underwhelming would be a bit of an understatement. Every title SEGA published with a Marvel property attached to it was either rushed, buggy or entirely misjudged. Of the five games (and their multiple ports) produced under SEGA, The Incredible Hulk is the only one that you could say was even remotely worth a look as the open world chaos that it brought certainly seemed to showcase that developer Edge of Reality understood what makes Hulk a great character and how they could transfer that to a video game.

So where does that put us with Next Level Games and Captain America: Super Soldier? Thankfully, this is also one of the very few Marvel games produced by SEGA that actually shows a clear understanding about what makes the character great and it also does a great job of riffing on the strengths of the first film. What’s even more surprising is that Chris Evans, Neal McDonough, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan and JJ Field all show up to voice their characters in-game and even manage to do a respectable job. They sound convincingly like their characters and while their performances aren’t exceptional by any means, they don’t sound bored or phoned in which is pretty miraculous considering some other SEGA published movie tie-ins.

What Next Level Games have decided to focus on for Captain America: Super Soldier is combat and in a bold yet effective move, they’ve based their combat on the Batman Arkham series. This means Cap is a joy to control when he gets into a scrap. The combat is split into four main functions: light attacks, heavy attacks, counters and dodges. These act exactly as you’d expect them to except you can also buff them using portions of your special gauge to land devastating power blows, reversal attacks that allow you to take control of enemy weapons as well as enter a ‘super’ mode that generally allows you to attack with greater hit power. It’s a diverse and fluid combat system that feels great and rewards good play.

So the foundations for Captain America: Super Soldier are set, but where do you get to use this wonderful combat system? Thankfully, in a rather diverse and open Hydra castle and surrounding village. While progression through the game is fairly linear, the game world is actually fully open to exploration and you’ll want to do that, because collectibles that help you unlock new abilities as well as extra modes, documents, costumes and videos are scattered all over the place. Hydra documents and files are the collectibles with the most obvious feedback into the main game. These act as currency in an extra abilities menu which allows you to purchase things like the ability to combo more enemies when using your shield to attack. Exploration in Captain America: Super Soldier is often met with rewards and for a game targeted at the sort of mass market that the film is aimed at, that’s a big positive.

Sadly, there are some drawbacks that stop Captain America: Super Soldier from becoming an all-time classic Marvel game. The big issue is the platforming. Lots of areas require Cap to use his athleticism to leap, vault and swing himself around the environment to progress, and while this could have been very engaging in a modern Prince of Persia way, it unfortunately amounts to pressing the jump button repeatedly through a scripted sequence. It’s an incredibly hands off approach that only rewards you for pressing the button accurately with the rhythm of the sequence. It certainly looks very flashy but in actuality, it’s quite boring due to how little input you have in the outcome of the sequence.

The other main issue is down to performance. While Captain America: Super Soldier is often a real looker in the visuals department, you can tell Next Level Games didn’t have a lot of time to optimise the game to enable better performance. The game is aiming for 30fps but more often than not, you’ll notice it struggles to even hit that. Captain America: Super Soldier is a choppy game that really suffers from heavy slowdown in the framerate department. While it’s never particularly intrusive to the actual gameplay, it really takes the edge off an otherwise great looking game.

Captain America: Super Soldier is very nearly an action classic and could have been Marvel’s direct rival to the Batman Arkham games. What we get is an enjoyable title with a great combat system and a really fun environment to explore, but it’s sadly dragged down by uninspired platforming and some pretty dodgy performance. Fans of Captain America will definitely get the most out of this as video games featuring the character are few and far between; it’s just that the few issues that do crop up stop it from becoming an all-time classic.

7/10

Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark on 03/06/2017

Promo cover and promo disc scans
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Screenshots
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