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Captain America: Super Soldier (Video Game Review)

Just like clockwork, Sega has pumped out another comic book-licensed video game to coincide with the release of a major film of the same name. They did the same thing with Iron Man, its follow-up Iron Man 2, and this summer’s previously released Thor, and all three of them have managed to suck almost completely, give or take slight saving graces that indicated how much better the games could’ve been. Would Captain America: Super Soldier be the game to break the trend, or suffer the same fate? Before we get to that answer, let’s tell you about the game. You portray the physically enhanced Super Soldier, who was once a scrawny little kid and has since become a beefed-up powerhouse, as he invades the castle of Armin Zolo, a diabolical madman who has taken technical engineering to new heights during the 1940’s. That would be a good thing, except he’s a prime member of the Hydra organization, a group of Nazi types that are headed up by the mysterious Red Skull. As the Cap, it’s your job to infiltrate the headquarters and stop Zolo’s plans before it’s too late.

So the game doesn’t necessarily follow the plot of the film, where Cap takes on Red Skull directly, and that might throw some people off. The game feels like a secondary adventure as a result, and while that’s not a complete disappointment, it would’ve been nice to have some kind of related moment where you actually face off against Hydra’s main guy, rather than his lackey. The fact you never touch a motorcycle hurts too. Captain America looks so badass riding one in the trailer. The majority of Super Soldier takes place in Zolo’s castle, and while there are some sublime moments in design – most of them taking place outside – most of the environments are made up of drab inside rooms and buildings. They look the same for the most part, with only some bright moments in terms of technical terrors or puzzles to solve sticking out from otherwise average design. What’s more, Captain actually has to activate a secondary sense to see where poles or other objects are to move ahead in the level. The fact they’re disguised in plain sight may throw off younger players who just want to keep going in the game. (And besides, Wolverine did it better with his Feral Sense in X-Men Origins a couple of years ago.)

So the game doesn’t necessarily follow the plot of the film, where Cap takes on Red Skull directly, and that might throw some people off. The game feels like a secondary adventure as a result, and while that’s not a complete disappointment, it would’ve been nice to have some kind of related moment where you actually face off against Hydra’s main guy, rather than his lackey. The fact you never touch a motorcycle hurts too. Captain America looks so badass riding one in the trailer. The majority of Super Soldier takes place in Zolo’s castle, and while there are some sublime moments in design – most of them taking place outside – most of the environments are made up of drab inside rooms and buildings. They look the same for the most part, with only some bright moments in terms of technical terrors or puzzles to solve sticking out from otherwise average design. What’s more, Captain actually has to activate a secondary sense to see where poles or other objects are to move ahead in the level. The fact they’re disguised in plain sight may throw off younger players who just want to keep going in the game. (And besides, Wolverine did it better with his Feral Sense in X-Men Origins a couple of years ago.)

Wish I could say the same for the gameplay. Parts of it work tremendously well, and others don’t. Let’s talk about the ones that don’t first. The platforming segments of the game run on automatic, so rather than feeling like you’re in complete control of the Captain as he swings across poles and runs on walls (like the Prince of Persia games), you instead tap a button to get the timing down, activating a point bonus as a result. It’s decent, but the lack of that precision throws you off, and sometimes causes you to miss your target. Then you have to start right back at the beginning. Furthermore, what’s with the collection fest? As Captain moves throughout the game, he’s practically gathering everything in his grasp, for the sake of replay value that doesn’t really say much. Hydra plans we can certainly understand – and the film reels are pretty cool. But what in the hell is a superhero going to do with a ceramic egg? And beer steins? Is Cap opening a bar?

Finally, the boss battles that are included here, including the vicious Iron Cross, aren’t bad, but they feel mistimed in places, particularly the push-button contests. We hate having someone on the ropes and then having to repeat a sequence just because we weren’t quick enough. Next Level Games should’ve toned this down and just made the boss battles epic slugfest. And why no Red Skull? Again, a disappointment. As for what the game does get right, the turret sequences, as mentioned above, are good fun, but don’t last nearly long enough in the game. As for the combat – which involves punches, kicks, bullet ricocheting and charging up super moves – it’s actually very good.

Watching an opponent get knocked out in slo-mo is fun, even the tenth time through, and the bullet ricocheting – once mastered, and it will take a while – is a satisfying way to get rid of a sniper. However, throwing your shield is cool too…though we would’ve liked a slow-motion effect for this as well, like the Batarangs in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Captain America: Super Soldier is an improvement over Sega’s previous comic book screw-ups, and that’s saying something, but there’s still a handful of errors that keep him from truly saving the day. Savvier level design, less collectibles, a Red Skull boss fight and smoother platforming would’ve gone a long way here. That said, fans of the hero and the film should give it a try. But let’s just hope Sega has something stellar planned for The Avengers when it rolls around next year. The last thing they deserve is averageness.

Game Information:
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Platform: Reviewed for PlayStation 3
Release Date: July 19, 2011

Score: 6 out of 10
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