Captain America: Super Soldier Review
Written : Monday, July 18, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
Captain America he’s a hero, going to take pollution down to zero. Oh wait, wrong captain. Though while we’re on the subject what was the deal with the kid that got the power of heart? Poor bugger. Anyway, instead of a gaudy superhero intent on ridding the world of evil and pollutants, we have a gaudy superhero intent on ridding the world of evil and bright red people (so watch out Santa). With the film featuring Cap due out soon then, I suppose it was only a matter of time before a game was thrust upon us, though whether it has been given the care and attention of a AAA title or a quick shot of super soldier serum and then rushed out of the door is anyone’s guess.
Captain America was created during World War II and that particular conflict is the backdrop to the events that unfold. Seen as an almost mythical figure, and supposed poster boy, by most frontline troops he is soon called into action to defend his comrades from a mysterious attack. Instead of Nazis it seems like an organisation called Hydra is behind the sudden shift to advanced technology and fearsome weaponry. Faster than you can say “Holy signposted clues Batman” and it turns out they are using a metal specific to one spot on Earth (would you credit it) and ol' winghead is whisked off to investigate.
POW, right in the kisser!
Frankly the story is pretty much nonsense, with the Red Skull and his army holed up in a mountain fortress that our hero gradually uncovers in his bid to get to the bottom of matters. Along the way he rescues a few of his squad mates who then posture a lot without actually, you know, helping in any way. It also turns out that the rather unbalanced former owner of the estate just happened to have dug up a giant weapon which Mr Skull and friends now plan on activating, just because they can. It all feels like one big prologue to Captain America’s back story with none of the events ever really making much sense and everyone living to fight another day at the end. Hurrah – or not. It doesn’t help matters when our hero is so damn stoic and dull, not to mention the laughable lip-synching that pervades every cut scene.
Of course, the hokum plot would not really matter if the gameplay was top drawer but even here things are lacking. Cap has an array of combat and gymnastic abilities at his disposal and every area of the mansion gives you ample opportunity to try them out. Cap can beat up foes with an array of moves, though often just bashing the same button reaps major dividends as you would expect. You can also fling his shield to beat up foes from afar, or stun them to allow a quick finishing move. Dodging attacks and defeating foes nets you a boost to the focus meter which you can use to unleash some special moves, though these are ludicrously overpowered and can often finish even the toughest foes in one hit.
No matter the odds, Cap has the answer.
Despite, or rather because of, his combat prowess the action always feels amazingly dull. Enemies are taken out in a couple of hits, and spamming the dodge button means you are pretty much immune from harm. Against tougher foes you can resort to deflecting shots back at them with your shield until you have enough focus to unleash a can of whoop-ass, and that formula will pretty much get you through the whole game. Even boss fights are just glorified versions of the regular foes and require you to abuse the exact same tactics until they eventually crumble.
Outside of combat you can explore the mansion and use you skills to leap over various timed platforming sections, though with no penalty for failure, then it just becomes a procession between well-timed jumps and those that take you a whole second more. Cap has a tactical sense that can help to highlight objects of interest and the way forward, and spamming it is good if you somehow get stuck. Each area also has a bunch of collectibles that can give you more information about the castle and perks against certain foes, though most of these are displayed on the in-game map so missing them is pretty much impossible. In fact there are so many items to snag that it feels like they were put there to lengthen the experience in some way, as if you didn’t spend your time hunting them down then this game would be a lot shorter which is saying something. Picking up all the items unlocks some challenge modes which are further variations on the same theme, mainly beating up people and leaping about, and provide about five additional minutes of entertainment.
In fact it is odd that the game area is set up in a sandbox style, with the sewers allowing you to revisit old areas at will. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no reason to return to any area, assuming you picked up all the items in your path, as no new missions pop up and there are always plenty of people to beat up by just doing the story levels. It is a weird inclusion and one that suggests there should be much more to the game than is really present, with such a big map and a way to traverse it easily then it would have made more sense to have a few extra missions or hidden areas to unlock but that is simply not the case. It’s like a sandbox game with nothing to do, which makes it a wee bit pointless.
Why are you so tall, and shiny, and RED?
The major plus is that this game is over before it even truly starts to grate on you, so you can expect plenty of achievement points along the way. Just completing the game will net you the majority, and if you spend a bit of time on the challenges and beating up specific foes then the rest will come in short order. The collectibles are a bit of a drag but are made amazingly easy thanks to the in-game map, so even that is no real chore. Though it would have been nice to have a few more random tasks and side missions but it's not to be.
For an hour or so you may well have a bit of fun, but whether you can tolerate the same few ideas throughout the entirety of the game is debatable. It is a shame to see the scale of the game that could have been and instead sitting through the same few puzzles and jaded combat sections. As an introduction to Cap this is average stuff, and you would hope that a lot more thought goes into any further jaunts. If anything this blend of exploration, gymnastics and combat just makes us want a new Tomb Raider even more.
The voice work is pretty decent but the rest of the score is fairly humdrum. Plus, some of the cheesy dialogue can really make you wince.
Cap looks good but the rest is extremely poor at times with enemies getting stuck on scenery and some terrible lip-synching. Throw in some drab textures and mundane environments and it’s a real disappointment.
Enjoyable to begin with, but the mix of combat and platforming soon grows tiresome as the same few enemies turn up time and time again. Even the odd boss battle is little more than a long-winded version of the regular enemies.
A decent stab at a movie tie-in, that attempts to be a bit more open-world but kind of fails due to the short level structure and simplicity of the enemies. After spending a few hours completing the game there will be no desire to spend any more time with it.
Pretty dull and unimaginative, with almost half the achievements solely devoted to mission progression and the rest down to beating various foes and all of the challenge maps. Easy, but not much fun or invention.
Captain America: Super Solider could have been far more entertaining than it turned out to be. The supposed sandbox style set up is actually far emptier and shallower than it should be, and the whole game consists of repeating the self-same combat and timed jumping sections over and over again. You will blitz through Captain America: Super Soldier in five hours and still feel like your time would have been better spent elsewhere. Another movie tie-in ‘gem’.