For my taste, Marvel’s Captain America is the best of their pre-Avengers films. Iron Man was great and all that but I think they really hit it out of the park with Captain America. It is however, with great trepidation that I went into playing the game based on said film. Producer, Sega, had been in charge of producing the games based on the other Avenger’s members (Iron Man 1&2, Incredible Hulk, and Thor) and they hadn’t exactly done the properties justice. With new developers Next Level Games at the helm (who at that point were most well-known for their Wii games) fans of Cap had plenty of reason to worry. Well, I am happy to say that although Captain America: Super Soldier is by no means a perfect game; it is a solid and fun effort.
The story of the game takes place sometime during the middle of the movie. Remember that sweet battle montage when Cap and his friends were wiping out all those Hydra soldiers? Yeah, well this game takes place sometime during that montage. Captain America becomes aware of some dangerous weaponry being manufactured by Hydra and he manages to track production of the weapons back to the secluded castle of Dr. Arnim Zola. Most of the game takes place in and around this castle and the atmosphere of the locations is one of the great strengths of the game. Whether it’s the surrounding German village, the underground sewers, or the castle itself; much work went into making sure that the player feels immersed in a rich, detailed world.
The combat had me immediately drawing comparisons to Batman: Arkham City. While Captain America’s combat is nowhere near as deep and polished as Batman’s, much of the combos are pulled off in a similar fashion. Just like the Caped Crusader, Cap can find himself surrounded by enemies and come away with nary a scratch as long as the player pulls off carefully timed combos while mixing melee with ranged attacks. Cap’s famous shield will be your primary weapon and it is every bit as effective as it should be. It’s used as your main line of defense against incoming bullets and fists. Offensively your shield can be used to knock Hydra soldiers out with ease and after leveling up enough it can even be used as a range weapon to take out up to four enemies at once.
The downside of combat is that it does sometimes rely too heavily on what I call “God of War Syndrome” which is an over-reliance on ‘Quick Time Events’. The combat system is set up in such a way that a certain flow needs to be established to take out enemies efficiently but when a QTE pops up in the middle of your combos, you can easily be thrown off your rhythm. Whenever the combat is flowing like it should however, it’s a satisfying experience.
Exploration also plays a large role in the gameplay. Many have decried the amount of backtracking that is required and how easy it is to get lost. I never felt that any of this was an issue in my playthrough. The environments may be large but the map system is more than enough to keep you on the right track. The biggest amount of backtracking you’re likely to do is directly tied to how many collectibles you want to find. Collectibles are plentiful in this game and I spent several hours just searching for things like Hydra dossiers and Faberge eggs but these side diversions can be completely ignored if you so wish.
Often times during your exploration you’ll come across acrobatic platforming sections. These sections are interesting the first few times but they do grow tedious after a while, mainly due to the fact that it’s impossible to fail. You are required to time your button presses as Cap flips through the environment but all a successful button press nets you is an increase in your focus meter to use in combat. Not pressing the buttons in time will not make you fall. This level of handholding detracts from what should be a challenging and rewarding process.
Sound design is also a big plus in Captain America: Super Soldier. With the notable exceptions of Hugo Weaving and Toby Jones, most of the cast from the movie reprise their role in the game. Unlike other stars who have, in the past, voiced their super hero video game counterpart with all the enthusiasm of a sweat sock (I’m looking at YOU Ed Norton); the cast of Captain America knocks it out of the park. Chris Evans plays his part with as much spirit as he does on the big screen. The best element of sound that this game has to offer though, in my opinion, is the shield. The sound of Cap’s legendary shield as it bounces off the skulls of Hydra soldiers is so satisfying that I would venture back to areas I had already cleared just to shield bash some re-spawning enemies. It may seem silly and trivial but I couldn’t get enough of it.
After the credits rolled and I had racked up every achievement the game had to offer I looked back at my time with the game with fondness. There was too much hand holding and most of the puzzles were over-simplistic but the good far outweighed the bad. Captain America: Super Soldier is far from perfect but it is one of the best Marvel games released to date and it’s the best option to tide fanboys over until we get the inevitable Avengers game.