This year has seen more than its fair share of superhero movies and, of course, the games to go along with them. We had Thor. Good movie, terrible game. Then, the Green Lantern: a decent movie, with a decent game and now, finally, Captain America. Unfortunately I have yet to see Steve Rogers’ newest Hollywood endeavor, but if the early buzz is any indication, it is pretty excellent. Sega has decided to also let us fill the boots of America’s self-proclaimed captain with their newest tie-in title: Super Soldier. Taking a cue from the new king of comic book games, Super Soldier offers up moments of brilliance mixed with questionable design and some ridiculous collection aspects.
In a continuing trend, Super Soldier does not mirror the events of the movie and, instead, offers up yet another narrative for the epitome of human design. Steve investigates a castle that is said to be home of the Hydra and the evil Arnin Zola. Apparently, they are working on a brand new super soldier of their own to combat Mr. Rogers (OK, that is funny). Those hoping for a showdown with Hugo Weaving’s character, The Red Skull, will be disappointed that he barely makes a cameo. Instead, you will face off against Madame Hydra, Iron Cross and a few other side characters. Even with Chris Evans voicing the protagonist, the story never really grabs your interest, and you find yourself caring less and less about the plot as it musters on.
Captain America has taken most of what he knows in the videogame world from, probably, the best: Batman. Super Soldier borrows so much from Arkham Asylum that you will be hard pressed to describe it without mentioning Rocksteady’s masterpiece. From the combat style to the tactical vision, the game just seems to want to flatter the aforementioned outing. Still, even with that said, it still does retain some charm of its own.
Combat is the high point of the game and the one thing that the developers have gotten to work almost as good as the Dark Knight. Think of it as a brutal ballet and you get the idea. Moving from one foe to the next is seamless and smooth, and Cap dances around enemies in acrobatic fashion. What does set it apart, though, is his shield. You can toss it at foes or simply smack them with it, which delivers a truly satisfying sound when it connects. All of this, combined with its simplicity, makes combat entertaining, which is good, considering it makes up a large chunk of the gameplay itself.
You can upgrade your skills to add more to your repertoire. These include a counter move, hitting more foes with your shield and even new abilities such as a shield charge or the ability to ’weaponize’ enemies and use them against their allies. You can also build up a special bar that allows you to perform larger attacks just by defeating enemies. It builds up faster if you perform counters or combo moves. Overall, I really enjoyed taking down enemies. I just wish Cap had more ways to dismantle his foes. I loved walking into a room, feeling like a badass immediately and knowing when all was said and done, I would be the one standing.
The other half of the game is comprised of three things: exploring, context-sensitive platforming and collecting. The entire game takes place in one large area that you can move back and forth through at will thanks to the sewer system, although the game does not do a good job conveying that. I was halfway through the game before I discovered what the sewers actually did. Not only that, but the entire world just feels bland and uninspired and really doesn’t drive you to actually want to explore it. As for the platforming, it is what it is, I guess. Instead of performing the actual actions, Cap just moves to an area and you have to tap a button. You can attempt to do it in time with the motions, which rewards you with points, but outside of that, it leaves little to the imagination.
Finally, we have the collectibles, and let me tell you, this is overkill. Every game comes packed with something to pick up during the main game. Whether it is to unlock concept art or bonus features, it is always a nice diversion from the main course. Super Soldier takes it to a whole other level. There are so many things to find, collect and destroy here that it becomes overwhelming. The developers had to know this, considering things are literally left laying out in the open with no need to even hunt for them. Seriously, when you spend five minutes in a room collecting things, only to do it again in the very next room, you have too many collectibles. Combine it with AA guns to destroy and sewer entrances to use, this game packs a ton of things to distract you. They are tied to Achivements/Trophies, so hunters beware; this one is going to be tedious.
Visually, the game doesn’t look all that bad, outside of the animations. Cap felt stiff during certain combat moves, and the physics would sometimes play wacky tricks on me flailing barrels and enemies all over the place. The environments are forgettable and uninspired and there were a few instances of clipping into walls or glitching, but nothing out of the ordinary. Having Chris Evans on to voice Rogers is great, and he definitely delivers. The rest of the cast does well enough to flesh out the characters, but nothing exceptional. The music is forgettable and the sound effects feel like stock. Production on the game just feels disappointingly average.
With that said, I still enjoyed my run through the game. Sure, I quit bothering to look for collectibles about halfway through, but the combat and steady pace kept me going. While it certainly won’t win any awards for originality or production values, Captain America: Super Soldier is a solid, if predictable, tie-in game that complements the movie well. If you enjoy the character, I recommend giving it a look, as it could easily entertain you for the modest play time, and you can be sure there are plenty of collectibles to keep you coming back.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.