The lights are on
Movie tie-ins can be an frustrating bunch. While some do well, most are underwhelming and neither serve as worthy film supplements or exciting game experiences in themselves. Against all odds, Captain America: Super Soldier rises just a head above these misfortunes. With an interesting setting and intriguing ideas, Super Soldier proves that the movie-game is not a lost cause, providing a satisfactory package of action and appreciation for its film that will make for an entertaining time for most superhero fans.
Being an interquel of sorts to the 2011 Captain America film, Super Soldier takes place somewhere in between the events of the movie adventure, placing you in the shoes of Captain America, a.k.a Captain Steve Rogers, as you battle the World War II Nazi menace of HYDRA. After a short prologue intro, you’re tasked with infiltrating a Nazi castle to put a stop to HYDRA’s new weapon of mass destruction and kicking Nazi butt along the way.
From a visual stand-point, the setting of Super Soldier definitely has its share of sights to take in. With nearly the entire game confined to the imposing stone walls of Castle Von Zemo, the estate’s well-crafted detail and secrets are something to be liked. The castle grounds boast a decent amount of variety, ranging from drab lab interiors to the more luxurious decor of the compound’s great halls that create a good reason for players to pay attention to their surroundings with its plenty of easy to find collectibles. Aside from this, however, the levels are disappointingly empty and won’t do much to encourage you to revisit them post-game.
Character and enemies’ graphical quality may have something to be desired, but their designs are also kept interesting and help to develop the scope and size of the bosses you’ll encounter. In spite of a few too many of them may be giant robots, enough like Baron Von Zemo and Lady Hydra are visually striking and the final boss should impress with its sheer size alone.
The game’s bonus material involves that of concept art, audio tapes, extra skins, and movie reels earned through amassing all the in-game collectibles. They aren’t much to look at or listen to and players probably won’t care to get all of them short of trophies or achievements.
One of the more noble attempts on Super Soldier’s part is its interesting, if not familiar, gameplay mechanics. Directly borrowing from both the Batman Arkham games as well as the Prince of Persia series, the game features a considerable amount of the series’ combat and platforming. Captain America’s bouts of close-quarters combat will bring him face to face with literally scores of HYDRA soldiers, all of which he can counter, parry, and defeat with dramatic finishing moves that never cease to feel satisfying in their slo-mo glory. The Cap can also bring his shield into battle and uses it less than sparingly to deflect and counter bullets and knock down enemies like bowling pins. The targeting system for these maneuvers works fine and watching the utterly hapless AI collapse from a long series of chain-attacks feels satisfying. On the other hand of gameplay, Captain America’s travel around the castle will also call on his considerable acrobatic abilities. Akin to the The Sands of Time, Captain America will effortlessly swing along on poles and launch himself across platforms and chasms with the greatest of ease. All of these are simplistic and at times unreasonably easy, but they look nice and are a breeze to handle.
There’s also a challenge mode for players to further hone their skills as the Cap. In its series of timed matches, players will defeat as many of the game’s grunts and mini-bosses as they can within the limit for in-game rewards. Few of these missions are at all difficult and Arkham veterans will easily blow through these with little trouble at all.
The game additionally includes several matching-based puzzles scattered throughout the world’s hidden rooms as well as collectibles to gather for unlocking bonus material. These end up like more of a distraction than a challenge in the long run, and while you won’t know why in the world you’re collecting beer steins or randomly placed ceramic eggs, but they do add a small amount of replay value for the completionists out there.
First and foremost, Super Soldier is a movie tie-in, and as such, much of its job is devoted to building upon its film inspiration. Characters like Arnim Zola, Dum Dum Dugan, and the Red Skull are all included in impressive recreations of their movie versions and even actor Chris Evans joins in to lend his voice for Captain America himself. Sadly, those small links to the film are all that’s offered in Super Soldier’s generally lackluster story. Only spanning a few weeks into Captain America’s career, the game doesn’t try to fill in any particularly important gaps in the Cap or any of the supporting cast’s backstories. A simple mash-up of “beat the bad guys” plotlines, you’ll merely go along from point A to point B without much interaction with the characters. Although Super Soldier tries its best to introduce a few new comic-book figures into the mix with Lady Hydra and Baron Von Zemo, both are ultimately useless to the story and don’t add much extra to the movie’s highlights. The film’s look and feel, however, are well preserved throughout the game’s design and feel like a part of the film in at least a couple of key moments that made the Captain feel like a true-blue superhero.
Overall, Super Soldier delivers many intriguing concepts and makes them work well, but throughout my playthrough of it, Super Soldier often felt like it was aiming for much better. As many great ideas as it borrows from so many fantastic game series, it seemed like a waste that the game never went beyond the confines of its movie to explore either the full potential of its gameplay or the world of its characters. Regardless, Super Soldier should be duly recognized as a respectable title above most of others of its nature and one of the better ones of its publisher. It may not be a home-run of a game, but whether you appreciate the movie or superhero games in general, you might want to give the Cap a shot for a fun weekend.
No one has commented on this article.