Here comes yet another movie tie-in super hero game, this time in the form of Captain America: Super Soldier. Can the Captain make it happen, or is he fighting with a broken shield?
Super Soldier only loosely ties in with the current movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, so hold your horses before getting too excited about reliving scenes you may have seen recently. The game starts off with the Captain already trained, suited up, and ready to battle some Nazis with his trusty shield, but it isn’t long before another group hell bent on destruction shows up, known as the Hydra. The entirety of the game consists of Captain America infiltrating their castle and debilitating the Hydra’s army bit by bit, by destroying AA turrets, experimental equipment, and releasing numerous prisoners of war.
At the core of Super Soldier is a combat system most easily compared to a lesser version of Batman: Arkham Asylum. As Cap battles numerous enemies at a time, tapping square repeatedly launches him into a flurry of combos, while a dodge maneuver lets him leap over foes and slowly roll away from incoming hits. Enemies emit an orange or red circle as the come in with counter-able or unlockable attacks respectively, and a grab move can be used to lead into more melee combos. The Captain’s shield provides some variation, allowing him to repel incoming gun fire back to soldiers if good timing is used, and he can throw his shield to ricochet between multiple enemies.
Battles take up the majority of the game, which play out fluidly upon getting the hang of controls, and so luckily is often times fun. Most involve a squad of repetitive grunt units with shock tazers or guns trying to fight you while a few gunners stand back to take pot shots, forcing you to manage combo hits while reflecting shots off. Eventually larger experimental super soldiers are introduced, and even some larger robots, which require extra strength to take down. As fights progress a focus meter can be built, which has four sections and four corresponding special attacks. These let you unleash a power hit that replenishes health, or grab enemies to ‘weaponize’ them, letting the Captain use them as a meat shield while firing their own gun at their comrades. This maneuver is especially useful with powerhouse enemies holding grenade launchers and beam weapons, and makes for a great way to turn the tides in combat. Filling up the entire meter eventually enables a super soldier mode, where the Captain gains a massive boost in agility and speed to take out a huge crowd in just a few seconds.
While for the most part Captain America: Super Soldier‘s combat can be fun, much of the rest of the game is rife with tedium. The castle you explore is a sort of large free roaming area, but a primary objective is always set to lead Cap on what’s usually a clear path. Most areas can be re-explored, but most of the time the only reason to do so is because you lost your way and got turned around, or to find the insane collectibles riddled throughout the castle. It’s no exaggeration either to say the collectibles are absolutely ludicrous. An unreasonable variety of items to pick up are scattered literally around every turn in the game, including dossiers, piles of dossiers, film reels, ornamental eggs, tankards, bird statues, and other completely nonsensical items. At one point destroying fifty statues is added to the mix, increasing the confusion regarding Cap’s true mission in the castle. Ballistic schematics that reveal enemy weaknesses and costume pieces can be found too, but the ridiculous number of other items to pick up far outweighs them, to the point where you’ll probably get sick of it and stop bothering long before the end of the game.
Sometimes the Captain’s amazing acrobatic abilities kick in, letting him jump and scale walls, swing from pole to pole, and reach otherwise distant areas. However, all of the sequences occur at pre-set locations, and generally involve tapping x repeatedly to progress. Bonuses to the focus meter are awarded for good timing, but it’s otherwise mundane, and then annoying when you realize Cap can’t jump outside of this context. See a waist high wall to vault over? Nope, can’t do it, you have to go around and up the ramp. It’s mostly a nuisance, but it also seems like a pretty basic skill the Captain should have. It would be easy to get lost if you had to guess all the time where these context sensitive areas are, but most of them highlight automatically, and when they don’t a quick tap on the d-pad reveals all interactive locations and items in the area with special vision.
The graphics in Super Soldier can be a little hit or miss. The Captain himself looks fairly decent, with details on his uniform and a nice sheen to the iconic shield on his back, but his surroundings don’t always show the same polish. Much of the castle appears monotonous, with a bland palette of colors and varying grades of texture detail. Facial expressions in cut-scenes often look stiff, and it’s not uncommon to see lips move out of synch with the dialogue. Sometimes a decent looking explosion helps make up for it all, but for the most part the visuals are stuck in the land of mediocrity.
In the end, mediocrity is a great way to summarize Captain America: Super Soldier. It doesn’t have any particularly horrible problems or glitches, but at no point is any part of the game especially impressive or enthralling either. Factor in the mere five hours it takes to beat the entire game, and it becomes very hard to recommend any more than a rental here. With more overall polish and a lot more game Super Soldier might have been a good Arkham Asylum imitation, but as it stands Captain America: Super Soldier is a long way from breaking the trend of underachieving games accompanying a movie release.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Fluid Combat Mechanics
– Extremely Short, ~5 hours long
– Uninspired and Often Monotonous Gameplay