CAPTAIN AMERICA: SUPER SOLDIER REVIEW
America f#$% no!
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Jan 12, 2012 11:14 (Jan 12, 2012 11:14)
Written by: Alex
I admire the unapologetic nature of Captain America. Originally he was a propaganda tool, an unabashed icon of the American dream. Armed with a shield to protect, wearing the red, white and blue, and of course with little, impractical, wings of freedom on his helmet, I adore him as a hero and an out-of-time cultural statement that has managed to endure.
Unlike so many of Marvel’s core heroes however the good Capt. has received relatively few (dedicated) game adaptations. It’s a shame because with his use of the shield and acrobatic-but-grounded-in-reality nature he proves an interesting subject. Luckily with the new Captain America movie out a game was almost inevitable, but can it live up to the long running heroes legacy?
Like the movie, the game "Captain America: Super Soldier" is set during World War 2, the era of the Capt's creation. Somewhat unexpectedly given the setting the enemy is not the Nazis but Hydra, a technologically advanced secret branch of the German military, conveniently freeing the tale from any historical restrictions or sensitivities.
From this point it is a simple matter of motivating the fictional army, and with this being a super-villainous organisation what better than world domination out of a sense of cultural superiority? Its super-hero fodder, allowing for any number of 'stupid American' taunts from enemies. But it all fits well into a game that’s only real aim is to throw enemy after enemy at the poor Captain as he heroically sets out to rescue American troops, stop the evil menace and be generally heroic.
Captain America: Super Soldier is a half and half mix of platforming exploration and fighting game. A fairly generic mix, but with the recent pleasant surprise I had with the 3DS’s Thor: God of Thunder I put aside my initial scepticism and hoped for the best.
With fighting forming such a large component of the experience I was happy to see from the start that the Captain wasn’t going to employ a button mashing brawler mechanic. Borrowing heavily from the recent Batman games on 360 and PS3, Captain America: Super Soldier uses an almost rhythm based combat system that utilises parries and timing to build combos. As higher chains of attack accumulate, so too does the XP amassed allowing for even more moves and abilities to be acquired.
It is nice to see this novel combat system being applied to more games because it allows for some deep strategies and dramatic visuals, but only when implemented well. The problem is that Captain America: Super Soldier suffers from a number of issues, ranging from the platform it’s on, to its possible intended audience and ultimately basic design. It feels like a game aimed squarely at a younger audience, a demographic that the designers have determined (rightly or wrongly) require simplified gameplay. While the rhythm based combat of Batman had significant depth, Captain America’s use of it is simplistic. Even a fully upgraded Captain will easily reach his combo limits and start knocking out opponents with too much ease to create challenge even on hard difficulty.
This issue of ease combines with the small scale of the systems to further reduce its effectiveness. The impact and the cinematic nature of final attacks that can be achieved with this mechanic are lost but still attempted. Watching the Capt head-butt a Hydra soldier to death in slow motion with slightly muddy graphics is not just underwhelming but a little pathetic, especially as the red, white and blue stars rain down from the impact.
Platform exploration forms the other core element of Captain America. Moving around the various levels of the world, solving puzzles and scaling heights controls well, even if at time automated jumps marked by arrow feel a bit too hand-holdy. The animation, while slow, gives a nice acrobatic sense that is satisfying, at least when it work. Issues do arise though courtesy of one of the worst in game cameras I have ever experienced. Frequently it obscures the view of the action making it near impossible to work out the route forward, and it offers no way to reset or control the camera to correct it.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately SEGA didn't had any 3DS screenshots available to publish