Game Over Online ~ Captain America: Super Soldier

GameOver Game Reviews - Captain America: Super Soldier (c) Sega, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher Captain America: Super Soldier (c) Sega
System Requirements Xbox 360
Overall Rating 72%
Date Published Monday, August 8th, 2011 at 02:14 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

A buddy of mine at E3 told me that the Captain America game had actually turned out really well, the same way he'd have told me if he'd found a unicorn. Games based on summer blockbusters don't actually have to be good to earn money, and as a result, most of them aren't.

Captain America, however, is a pretty shameless clone of Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's not terribly original, but it looks okay, plays well, and had the sense to steal from the very best. It may be a result of the soft bigotry of low expectations, but I can actually recommend this game. It's a solid C+ if you judge it by the standards of the rest of the games industry, but when compared to most movie tie-ins, it's Citizen Kane.

The game begins when you, as Cap, get air-dropped above a HYDRA base to clean it out, running in advance of the Invaders. This gets complicated by the presence of terrorists, steampunk cyborgs, telekinetic mutants, and a who's-who of Cap villains, both the redesigned ones from the movie and a couple of relative newcomers like Madame Hydra. (It's sort of funny how blatantly she's designed to resemble Scarlett Johannson, but what can you do.)

The Arkham Asylum comparisons mostly kick in when you look at Captain America's combat and level design. Most of the stages are large open areas that are designed to reward exploration, with a lot of collectibles strewn around throughout the game; get enough of them, and you earn bonus XP that can be put towards acquiring upgrades for Cap. Navigating these areas is mostly just a question of running, with a little context-sensitive platforming that's really just there to be there, and which requires no particular skill.

When you're fighting, though, that's when the game wakes up a bit. The genius of Arkham Asylum is that you never committed to a single direction, so there was no such thing as a cheap hit. You can turn on a dime and hand out punches and kicks to everyone around you, and Captain America takes that system and adds a couple of slight improvements, such as a super meter. When one is getting ready to attack, you get a big yellow flash to indicate it, and can immediately block it. With the right timing, you can stagger an attacker or deflect bullets back to the guy who fired them. The result is that you actually do wind up feeling like a one-man army, capable of knocking out normal foot soldiers with one or two quick punches.

The rest of the game is a little rote and phoned-in. You repeatedly solve simple puzzles to open doors, the platforming is more or less just pushing the X/A button over and over again, and the entire thing has a slightly glitchy lack of polish that slows things down. Sometimes Cap dies to a five-foot fall, levitates in mid-air, or gets stuck on a narrow platform when you try to throw his shield. The game likes to do that obnoxious thing where one ledge can be scaled and another can't, and the only difference between them is a question of where the context-sensitive commands are coded to appear. The difficulty curve is more or less a flat line, and while some parts of the game are harder than others, the whole thing seems like an exercise in killing time.

There's a really good Captain America game lurking in here somewhere, and if you gave them enough time, Next Level could probably make it. It's easy to imagine a sequel being successful, with slightly higher production values and a bit more development time. The combat is where it shines, but the rest of the game is flat and average. This still puts Captain America head and shoulders above most licensed games, but that's not saying much.


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