Patriotism has always been a powerful tool in war, used by the higher powers to charge up their troops. Captain America is the embodiment of this, his name is enough to make any full-blooded American fight by his side. The story of Captain America is a true comic book one: a super solider serum stolen from the Nazis during the war, used on Steve Rogers (a skinny, tiny American). Add in some genetic engineering and you get the perfect human specimen, displaying all the attributes one would expect from the perfect soldier: tall, strong, fast, agile with a tactical mind and loyal to his cause.
The game begins with you right in the thick of it in Europe in 1944 in a rain soaked trench. You walk around a bit, some Nazi grunts approach and then it’s time to let the ass kicking begin. The combat is based around your trusty shield (which we’ll get to later) combined with your fists, amazing agility and, not forgetting, your tactical mind (read ‘spidey sense’). You learn the basic moves first, with an on-screen tutorial helping you with the buttons. You have at your disposal, punch, throw, jump and shield throw. In the game you never use a gun at all (apart from occasional turrets) which made it somewhat unique from my perspective, and if you’ve got no gun, the combat system needs to be very good to make up for it. Sadly, it is not the best, however there is something pleasing in the way Cap jumps around on screen like a gazelle and punches and throws the Nazis. You can also string your moves together in combos which are a must for larger groups of enemies.
You can aviod oncoming strikes thanks to your tactical mind which slows time for a split second so you can dodge and launch a counter attack. For the larger enemies, you will need to have perfect timing to beat them and land a crippling blow. There are a few boss battles but these are not very hard, simply good timing is needed to avoid and counter. Later in the game you need to use your head as we as your shield to beat bosses, but I won’t ruin the mental agility for you. There are also upgrades to choose from but these are lacking because they are so simple, you can either upgrade your shield so it hits more targets, use more counters or get a shield charge move. You get these upgrades by collecting various Intel items, with heirlooms, eggs, files, film reels unlocking further backstory and other parts of the game. These extra parts include a challenge section where you have to beat different tasks – usually defeating a specific number of guards in a given time, or leaping around avoiding hits – to pass on to the next one, which, I have to admit, provide some simple fun.
We now get on to your famous shield. In the game it is used for killing, helping to solve puzzles, slide down wires and protect you from enemies. Cap looks great in the game as does your shield, gleaming in the light. I do have to say that once you throw it, however, the gleam goes away and becomes a bit blurry. I guess that’s to be expected. The graphics in the game are good, but not great. The enemies do look and sound good but the backgrounds sometimes appear blocky and the explosions don’t look that good. You will move from trenches to orchards, labs, sewers, mansions and cities. The detail in these places is good, but could have been much better. It seems a bit rushed, possibly.
The music is fine but not really of the Hollywood blockbuster standard. The sound effects are also fine, although some of the punches sound like someone hitting a pillow. The voice acting for Captain America is good and the Germans are very…German. There game even includes a puzzle element, but the tasks you’re set are very few and very easy. The decryption machine you need to use simply requires you to line up two sets of numbers. It’s so easy, even a child could do it.
Captain America: Super Soldier is let down in a big way by the lack of any multiplayer options; there isn’t even a co-op mode. Admittedly, the game’s focus is on creating a single player story, but after you’ve completed this and the challenges, there’s really no reason to play them again (unless you’re really desperate to play on a higher difficulty level) and the lack of multiplayer options hurts the game’s replay value.
Overall, I think Captain America: Super Soldier is a prime example of what games based on movies and comic books so often turn out to be. It has potential but never lives up to it. The slightly rushed feel to the game is indicative of the fact that it’s been released to coincide with the upcoming movie, and you feel that if the developers had been given a bit more time they could have made a much better game. It’s better than the previous Marvel outings, but still, Cap deserves better.
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