Movie tie-in or no, the bar for superhero games has been raised by Rocksteady’s Batman series. When controlling an iconic character in a comic book universe, it’s difficult not to compare the experience with Arkham Asylum or its sequel, Arkham City. Perhaps it was this that put an initial dampener on my time with Captain America: Super Soldier on 3DS. Yet, the more I played it, I realised it wasn’t just a disappointment in comparison to Batman, no, no, no… it was disappointing all on its own. Recently released three months after the other versions, one would think developers High Voltage Software had something special planned to exploit the handheld’s features. In fact, what we have is very similar to the Wii version, albeit with a few gameplay tweaks to accommodate the touch screen controls.
Players assume control of the Cap as he pounds his way through legions of the evil Hydra. Most of the combat comprises of hand to hand Batman style brawls with a similar free-flowing combo building focus. Unfortunately, this makes it too easy to compare Captain America with the fantastic ArkhamAsylum. The result is an unimaginative, half-assed imitation of a brilliant fighting system which sees the Cap fisticuffing a bunch of Nazis with one button counter attacks to keep the action flowing. There’s also a plethora of quick-time events that throws in a bit of variation but slowly becomes tiresome towards the end of the game’s 9 levels.
Fast paced brawlers such as this should rely heavily on quick, responsive controls in order to nail the fundamentals of the genre. Unfortunately, El Capitan dishes out silly looking attacks reinforced by daft animations built around unresponsive controls.
Despite the Captain’s gymnastic abilities, his animations looked awkward throughout the adventure. At times, I got the impression that I was running along on a sheet of ice as I beasted the unchallenging hallways interacting unconvincingly with my surroundings. I was able to smash most objects that awarded experience points to level up abilities, but the platforming sections almost made me switch off my 3DS in sheer disgust; jumping over an electrified floor hasn’t got the slightest hint of peril as, from your first jump, traversing the platforms is so unchallenging and pointless you may as well be allowed to teleport to your destination just to save time.
Though it hardly pushes the 3DS hardware, Captain America: Super Soldier still looks rather pleasing, with relatively cartoon-like graphics compared to the console versions. However, inexcusable graphical hiccups like disappearing models and pop-up are prevalent. Given the extra development time, there shouldn’t be any excuses for this general lack of all-round polish. Having said that, the Batman inspired combat (while incompetently imitated) still remains mildly engaging. Additionally, if your one of those gamers who still find touch controls a novel feature, you might have some fun aiming the iconic shield with your finger and bashing multiple targets like Link’s boomerang. “If” and “might”… key words, my friends.
Although it does little to redeem the game, fans of the movie will be glad to hear that the voice-acting remains genuine and adequately performed. Also, cinematic elements such as slow-mo finishing moves and the odd quick-time event convey, if nothing else, a valiant effort to make the gameplay slightly more engaging.
The 3DS library is currently lacking in quality titles, so if you’re a fan of the Captain’s patriotic exploits, you may want to try this out. I may have given it a right grilling for the copious amount of things it’s done wrong, but it’s important to note that it still remains playable thanks to the functional combat system. The rest of you may want to avoid this though as ultimately, it’s short, unchallenging, unimaginative and unbelievably average.
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