Next Level Games
July 15, 2011
Captain America: Super Soldier is a prequel to the recently released summer blockbuster movie, taking place entirely within a Bavarian castle. It's a 3rd-person action game with some platforming sections thrown in to break up the fighting. Plenty of games are released each year which go along these exact same lines, so can Captain America manage to be entertaining enough to stand out from the rest?
The first thing you will notice right from the start with Captain America is the similarities to Batman: Arkham Asylum's combat system, and with good reason. Indeed, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Rocksteady Studios must have been entirely overwhelmed with such feelings when Captain America released. Using X to attack with up to a three-hit combo and Y to grapple, the moves quickly blend in to some very familiar fighting moves reminiscent of Batman. However, the combat system isn't quite up to the same fluidity as Rocksteady achieved, meaning occasionally your combo will just drop when Steve Rogers suddenly decides there's no more enemies to gracefully move across to and kill, even when there is. Thankfully, this is only a slight flaw and nothing that will overly bother even the most attentive player. Landing a punch, kick or shield-bash will trigger slow motion in a very Zac Snyder-style way to really let you appreciate the power and strength of Captain America. Apparently super soldiers aren't just content with being able to punch every man to death, because adding to your ability to kill is the ability where if an enemy fires at gun at you and you time it right, you can block the shot and deflect it straight back at the same solider.
The plot itself isn't anything mind-blowing or even remotely thought provoking, doing the bare minimum to give you an excuse to traverse the castle, fight Hydra soldiers and generally cause mayhem with some well placed C3. The platforming is handled in a slightly simplistic manner, leaving not much to the players command. To start a jump to a pole or ledge, you only need to stand in a highlighted area and press the A button. What follows is a mini-game of pressing the A button whenever you land on the next piece of scenery. The only punishment for not correctly doing this mini-game is that, instead of racking up a combo that'll help increase your meter (used to pull off special moves such as taking over an enemy to use his weapon against his comrades or landing a more powerful punch), you merely end up swinging from the same pole until you do press A. Within the platforming, there are also Enigma Code machines to crack. Sadly, these are hardly the most challenging puzzles you'll ever come across - finding a common letter or number between two separate sets of codes (each mapped to one of the two thumbsticks) takes no time at all; more often than not you'll have completed it within 5 or 6 seconds.
After completing the game, you'll also have 10 maps to complete, all with the obligatory bronze, silver and gold medals rewarding speed and skill. They aren't the hardest things to beat, most are completable to gold medal standard on the first attempt, but they add some extra playability to the game. To add further replayability, the game also has a whole load of collectibles scattered all over each chapter. On the topic of the collectibles, who leaves all this stuff laying around? And all the dossiers you can pick up for extra points to help you level up; why are they just lying around all over the place? Clearly the infamous Hydra army need some kind of filing system! Some small things like this are a little jarring, but forgiveable in the long run. All of these collectibles, however, are entirely possible (some would go as far as saying easy) to collect in a single playthrough, so their impact on the overall length of the title is debatable.
Sadly, this is Captain America's weak point. The character models for Steve Rogers and Red Skull are brilliantly rendered, but all the enemies and other characters are forgettable at best. There is plenty of variation of enemies to be fighting against, enough to stop the game from ever getting chance to become monotonous, but they aren't particularly distinctive, especially the grunt footsoldiers. The graphics of the castle, buildings within it and the general items on the streets are all average at best, and downright old at worst. All in all, it looks like something that would be feeling slightly outdated if it'd been released three years ago.
The sound is completely average in Captain America: Super Soldier. There's nothing distinctive or noteworthy about the background music that occasionally plays as you make your way around the game world, but likewise there's nothing particularly wrong with it. The VA in the game is pretty good, conveying just enough emotion and believability to get by. Weirdly, the only voice that has any real problems is Captain America's, who is voiced by the big-screen counterpart's actor, Chris Evans. For the most part it is fine, but occasionally it does get the feeling of a slightly phoned in performance. Punches, kicks and shield-bashes all land with suitable weight, keeping the feeling of being a real super solider alive.
All the enemies in Captain America do a good job of surrounding and flanking you, landing punches and shots to your character while you're busy trying to take out other enemies. They manage to keep you on your toes enough that you'll try to optimise the flowing combat mechanics as best as possible to stop them having any opportunity to get you. They aren't the smartest enemies; they'll never try to flee if their friends all get killed, for example, but they at least make a good fight. The snipers in the game are the only ones lacking any real sense of cleverness; they'll never try to duck or move out the way when you throw your shield at them, even if they're a hundred feet away from you and they have all the time in the world to watch it come at them.
The achievement list is completely uninspired and what you'd expect from a movie tie-in game. The only notable achievements are the ones for picking up collectibles, and that's only because there's so many of them. If you go for a full 100%, you'll spend about the same amount of time picking up collectibles as you will actually playing the core game. Thankfully, to help with all these collectibles is the fact the map displays them all from the very start of the game, so a quick check of that and you'll be well on your way. Virtually everything else on the list will come completely naturally as you progress through the game, making this perfect for anyone who wants a quick game to get the maximum GS out of.
Captain America: Super Soldier does enough to be better than virtually every other movie tie-in that's been released to date and is an enjoyable, albeit flawed game. Clocking in around 6 hours (roughly 7 hours if you plan to 100% the game), it's a fun chance to play as one of the more popular comic book heroes. Whether you play through it as a quick distraction while you wait for the new Batman, or merely want something to close out your summer with before the big Fall line-up starts, you could play at lot worse than Captain America.
Final Score: 7/10