Review: Captain America: Super Soldier

Who knew being a super soldier could be so boring? In Captain America: Super Soldier, this is a lesson easily learned within the first few (extremely short) missions of the game. Cap is also pretty useless without his shield, and apparently excels at acrobatics. I have nothing against comic book video game adaptations, as long as they’re decent, and playable. Further still, a comic book video game adaptation based on a movie is an even more iffy endeavor. However, taking a few pages from one of the most tidy superhero games to date, Batman: Arkham Asylum, was a great design choice on Sega’s part. Unfortunately, in execution it didn’t pan out so well. Is that because Captain America isn’t as strong of a “brawler” character as Batman, or because too much time was spent on recreating the memorable pieces of Arkham Asylum instead of crafting a ground-up Captain America adventure? In short, I’d say it’s just because of pure laziness.

I’m admittedly not a Captain America buff, so whether the lore is spot-on here in this movie adaptation is beyond me. I do know, however, that this isn’t exactly an edge-of-your-seat adventure. There are plenty of souped-up HYDRA soldiers, apparently, armed with electric weapons, and they can take a beating. Also, Captain America’s mighty shield feels much more like an oversized trash can lid rather than the hallowed weapon you’d expect from his comic book persona. He has a fierce aversion to guns, seemingly, instead relying on brawls and fancy footwork to take down adversaries. And the whole thing feels decidedly un-super.

The world’s first super soldier feels more like an underpowered grunt than what I was expecting, in fact. Just like in Batman: Arkham Asylum, free flow combat takes precedence here. Cap’n is quick and nimble, and melee combat is suprisingly fun, unless you’re using his shield. It doesn’t have that “oomph” I’d expect from the famous shield, and it feels more like tossing a sheet metal disc at people rather than a deadly projectile. I did, however, find dodging and using the more deadly attacks (dealt via L1 + square button) much more entertaining, though they’re much more limited in use — you need to build up a combat meter at the bottom left of the screen in order to use these flashier methods, and they’re one-hit kill freebies. You’ll appreciate it when faced with HYDRA soldiers who just won’t let up. Unfortunately, you must rely on your shield far more often, so get used to at-length combat unless you want to die continually. Thankfully, upgrades are available to Cap through picking up recon folders and information scattered throughout the game, building up points that may be spent on new moves and improving the ones you already have.

If combat weren’t tedious enough, the little bit of platforming you’re subjected to is absolutely insulting. You need to press one face button to “time” acrobatic maneuevers in closed spaces, but in reality it doesn’t much matter how off you are from the mark. You just press A to continue, like one massively long quick time event. And you do this literally any time you need to perform any kind of risky move. It’s no longer platforming; it’s “push the button to proceed through here.” And that’s unacceptable.

You’ll navigate through plenty of sand-colored landscapes and even a massive Nazi fortress, previously castle, with winding passages and tons of ways to get lost. Oh, and don’t forget the arbitrarily locked doors that magically lead to new areas. There are also plenty of consoles to “hack” (positioning a series of numbers where duplicate numbers overlap one another) and collectibles to pick up. And if you’re looking to score some trophies or achievements, there’s plenty of that here as well. In fact, you’ll be getting to up your score with every single mission you conquer, as well as the first time you stumble upon a hidden item.

At the very least Captain America: Super Soldier is a playable movie/comic book game. That’s more than you can say for most of the titles in this genre. It’s got some genuinely exciting moments and for a while combat can feel fresh, until you remember Arkham Asylum did it first, and much better. I’d recommend seeing the movie rather than plunking down the cash on this one. Or you could check out the Captain America and the Avengers game for the Genesis. Good times. And you certainly didn’t want to mess with that Cap. No sir.

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