Published on July 19th, 2011 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Captain America: Super Soldier Review
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, 3DS (Xbox 360 Review)
Review Note: A copy of the game for Xbox 360 was received for review purposes.
Captain America was Marvel’s answer to WWII. He was the avenger. Although he admits that he is “…no better than any other soldier out there,” well, except that super soldier serum pumping through his body, he is a walking sledgehammer. His efforts in the name of the good old U. S. of A not only meant a positive outcome for the war, but it also meant positivity for other soldiers fighting the good fight. This is a strong point in the overall story in the comic, being introduced in 1941, but it also showed his prominence against his arch nemesis, The Red Skull. As for the release of the game, it is in accordance to the newest block buster hitting the big screen and is yet another comic/movie/video game tie in.
This is one particular area where tie-in games can be either fun to play time, or to their likeness in the past, have been typically horrible monstrosities that should have never been seen by human eyes. Exposing them to animal eyes are even questionable offenses. As we have seen in this highly represented track record of movie tie-ins, these game adaptations often result in a lackadaisical overpriced train wrecks.
The story line in Captain America drops players into the action right away. There is little time to get to know the character, Steve Rogers, even with various other in-game cinematics that vaguely introduce its characters. It is literally Captain America being dropped into the action and all of a sudden you are this war fighting powerhouse that has been sent to save WWII. Oh, by the way, we forgot to mention something about all the Red Skull happenings, Hydra, and how to defeat Zola. Ready? Got it? GO!
This approach was fulfilling on the movies end, as it did not necessarily tear us away from knowing some of the main components, but it did little to help drive the game’s MO. This left a slight gap in the relation of really getting to know what makes Captain America tick, AKA Steve Rogers, besides his awesome moves, indestructible shield and nimble gymnast capabilities.
There was a lot of preconceived skepticism about Captain America. Were we going to see the not so-original button layout where ‘X’ is light punch, ‘Y’ is strong punch, ‘A’ is jump, and ‘B’ is used to kick an enemy here and there? Instead we got a pretty fluent moving combat system with various ways to upgrade and increase the library of known moves. It was easy to tell that the attributes were more than likely going to be unlocked and increased over time, but that it was also possible to enjoy the combat without unlocking them all.
To be honest, fighting groups of enemy Hydra soldiers in this title was fun to do. It was like controlling the fight sequence in an action movie. The Captain was able to parry moves, grasp a dodged fist from a would be deadly striking blow, and deliver a punch strong enough to crush the jaw structure of a goon who just got too close to the Captain. These could also be combo’d with the throw of his shield, bouncing off multiple enemies and returning to your back. Taking down larger enemies also lead to quick-time sequences which had various endings depending on how you approached them. It was possible to sucker punch a goon by catching them off guard, or take them all head on with Captain’s headstrong tactics.
Sticking to the beat’em up action adventure plan, the ‘X’ button is used to punch and hit enemies. The ‘Y’ button is used to grab at shielded warriors, but later on with ‘RB’ + ‘Y’, it is used to de-weaponize an advanced larger enemy. Smash apart a soldiers rigid chinstrap with ‘RB’ + ‘X’, or use ‘RB + ‘Y’ to put your paws right on the barrel, these were quick-time in feel, but they are timed in order to combo moves to take out a group of enemies. These maneuvers varied by enemy types and the slowdown effects in the game were not overdone, but at the same time, were tastefully fashioned in so that they would not get old after the first one or 100.
Graphically, Captain America would be considered inconsistent. It was interesting to see finer details like the threads of the Captain’s rugged outfit, but also the scratch like marks and metal that make the Stark developed shield literally shine. While he looks great, the same cannot be said about the games facial animations or highly enemy-trafficked areas. Particularly in sequences like what we see in the opening scene of the game.
There were times that characters missed their speech and dialogue, or where the Captain was caught talking yet his mouth was not moving. This was unfortunate and sometimes tough to watch. Other areas of the game were either great, or ghastly. There were scenes prominent with mechanical wonders where the creativity and design really blossomed. Other areas were laggy and the game itself suffered from light screen tears throughout its entirety. This makes me curious about the promising 3D capabilities of the game, but my regular old LCD HDTV couldn’t offer that helping of goodness.
It is tough however to envision the title being spread even more thinly due to its light screen tears in complex battles, or the slow animations during high conversation scenes. There were other things, like the squirrely camera system, that left room for the questioning. These seem like they would have been easily helped by an enemy lock-on, or having a fixed camera with a button or LS/RS click in. The game did have a camera reset, but there was much needed than just a Band-Aid on something that needed stitches. While some visualizations were a bit of a disappointment, there are other areas like the combat system that make up for the shortfall.
The game highly emphasized the agility of our super soldier. Things like jumping from ledges to acrobatic twists and turns were present in all levels. It was great to make leaps and bounds to plenty of hard to reach places and explore the files and folders that you could find scattered through the level. These movie canisters, Hydra briefaces and files contributed to ability upgrades. While the agility and moves were well rehearsed and represented, it was however a chore at times to ensure that the right direction and move were being executed. Some missed animations left me falling to my death, or not activating the right sequence at the right time. Using the ‘tactical vision’ was important when you couldn’t find your direct path, but in most cases, it was the only path.
It would have been great to see freer roaming in the title. Action/adventures usually follow a pretty strict regimen of destruction countered with little search and discovery. There were a few instances where skimming through the level rewarded us with objects and files, all worth additional upgrade points. These levels could be backtracked through with the discovery of the ‘Sewer System’, a physical representation of the levels completed. These levels could be accessed through unlocked areas in each chapter and also tied into the games stories. At one point, unaware of this area, I actually became lost and confused as to what exactly that was stumbled upon. It seems it was done so that players could access each level and pick up items they missed the first play through. This was one area where the game turned confusing and seemed overall, not necessary.
Captain America: Super Soldier gave us more than it’s predecessors in the genre. There was better combat, moderate replay value in the exploration and great action sequences. The game also suffered from inconsistent graphic quality and a squirrely camera that might literally drive you nuts. It would be easy to say that these are what really held the game down from being a fun to play action game, but it was a culmination of so much more. It is definitely worth a rent, or even a purchase if you are a diehard Marvel, or Captain America fan. Full price? Sorry Captain, maybe not in this crunch.
[xrr label=”Rating: 6.75/10″ rating=6.75/10]
+/– Replay Value
[jwplayer file=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzfU_s0TAkg” plugins=”agegate-1″]
(Enter Age and Refresh to play)