Captain America: Super Soldier Review
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On 07/19/2011 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola
Even Next Level Games can't keep Captain America from being lame.
A great rental experience for dedicated Captain America and brawler fans. Everyone else can safely steer clear.
I hate to say it, but I've always disliked Captain America. He's a lame superhero who's in possession of no super powers whatsoever. Sure, he's a peak human specimen thanks to the Super-Soldier serum, but that still makes him pretty dull in comparison to most other superheroes. It also makes him pretty on par with most video game characters that share many of the same abilities. The Prince from Prince of Persia comes to mind – both are acrobatic, strong, and can defeat hordes of enemies without breaking a sweat. The difference between the two? The Prince starred in a great game – Captain America, a mediocre one.
I blame this largely on Captain America being lame. Unfortunately, his “super powers” allow for his game to be little more than a brawler. Sure, it's a competent enough brawler, but it has no room to grow beyond that since Captain America has no secret hidden abilities to tap into as the game progresses. Had there been such abilities, they would have allowed the gameplay experience to evolve.
In what's probably a stroke of bad luck, the game's setting feels tired and overused before even starting. Being that Captain America (the Super-Soldier serum) was created to assist in the fight in World War II, you are stuck in a Nazi infested world set in the bitter mountains of Europe. Sound familiar?
Of course, all of the Nazi propaganda has been removed from the world and in this carved out piece of land the game calls home, you'll take on the HYDRA terrorist organization instead. The organization is stocked with some mainstays of the comic, including the Iron Cross, Viper, and the infamous Red Skull, all of which make a personal appearance in the game. Most of the time, you'll be taking on their various pawns, which have been outfitted with some serious armor and weaponry designed to stop and capture the Captain.
Throughout the course of the experience, the enemies will get tougher, but Cap remains the same. You start out with his special shield and a near full array of brawling abilities. For the most part, these include the ability to acrobatically leap around with the push of a button, the ability to attack, and the ability to toss your shield. You'll eventually learn how to deal a devastating blow, weaponize enemies, and go into super solider mode, each of which drains a certain amount of collected power from a four unit bar.
For at least the first couple of hours, the combat feels very fluid and fun. You can easily hop over enemies and take them down from behind, leap to avoid projectiles, reflect back shots with your shield, and just all-around decimate the opposition. Over time, it all starts to feel very automatic and repetitive. While you can purchase some new moves, they aren't all that interesting and don't make it any quicker or easier to take down enemies.
Occasional platforming segments help to break up some of the monotony, but they're extremely simple as well. Since Captain America can't jump, everything is context sensitive. This includes everything from climbing ladders to platforming. In these segments, so as to expose the fluidity and natural physical prowess of Cap, players will merely have to hit the A button at the right time in order to leap from each location to the next. Whether they're platforms, ledges, or wall runs, everything can be handled with that simple button press; doing so perfectly on time will throw up a "perfect timing" counter that earns points and protects Cap from being hit by snipers, if any are present.
When not platforming or battling, you'll be scouring the environment for the plethora of collectibles that litter it. Picking up Hydra paperwork and schematics are the only collectibles with any bearing on the experience. The paperwork will provide a varying number of points, which can be redeemed to either upgrade or unlock new moves.
As stated earlier, these new moves are mostly inconsequential, as they unlock moves that aren't very helpful. The most important of the bunch is an upgrade to your shield, which can be thrown to hit an increasing number of enemies in a single throw. While it doesn't harm them greatly, it acts similarly to the boomerang in Zelda, stunning them momentarily.
Schematics will reveal new enemy weaknesses, but ultimately it just means that your attacks begin to have different effects on them. This makes them easier to defeat over time and acts almost like a leveling up system.
Everything else you collect is merely for the fun of it. I've always had a soft spot for collecting stuff in games, so I invested far more time than necessary grabbing every little thing I could find, including Prussian helmets, beer steins, and ceramic eggs.
While the game may sound deep based on the detailed explanation provided here, most of the time you'll just be button mashing without much strategy till you are victorious. Because it's so fluid, it's entertaining for a while, but over time it starts to wear thin.
Because the game is mostly competent, though unvaried, it maintains a slight charm that will carry you through the six hour quest without becoming grating. It's easy to write-off Captain America as mere movie tie-in garbage, but as a rental, the game would be enjoyable for a serious Captain America fan.