Captain America: Super Soldier Review

Captain America: Super Soldier

Videogame adaptations of comic books don’t always go very well, especially when those adaptations coincide with big-budget films. The rush to get the game out on time can lead to half-finished titles or even ones that feel like the developer just didn’t care about what they were making. The two Iron Man games are shining examples of this. Steve Rogers’ leap into the digital realm is not nearly this catastrophic, but Captain America: Super Soldier does still suffer from this all too familiar tale. It’s a shame; if it was given some more time, love, and care, it could have been put in the echelon of superhero games like Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The game does well to not rehash the story of the film. Set in the mid-movie montage stage where Cap and crew are taking out HYDRA bases, Steve is dropped into a large, mountainous castle formerly belonging to classic villain Baron Zemo. The base is heavily protected with AA guns and cosmic-cube-enhanced weaponry under the watchful eye of the Red Skull’s number two, Arnim Zola. Aiding to defend the base are other memorable foes of Rogers’ WWII past. They seek a secret buried within the castle grounds that can allow HYDRA to rule the world, and it’s up to Cap to stop them.

The interpretations of all the villains are acceptable and fit with the current style of the Marvel movie universe. Though Zemo is nowhere to be found in his own castle, you will find entries in his diaries that explain why he has flown the coop. A few of The Howling Commandos, called instead “The Invaders,” make a cameo appearance in the game, including Bucky Barnes, but don’t expect any of them to take part in missions with you. The crew takes more of a role similar to what Commissioner Gordon did in Arkham Asylum. Regardless, fans of the comic should be pleased with all the appearances and nods to the Cap mythos.

Super Soldier‘s best asset is its combat. Fast and fluid, it makes you feel like the absolute badass Captain America is. Steve’s fighting style is more acrobatic than brutal, which fits the comic envisioning of the character perfectly. In addition to your attack, block, counter, dodge, and grapple, players build up focus by performing fancy takedowns, timing platforming segments properly, and chaining combos. This focus will fill up a four-section gauge that allows Cap to one-hit knockout any non-boss enemy, weaponize an enemy by turning their guns and shock batons against their allies with two, and enter a brief “Super Soldier” mode to shrug off attacks and take out any non-boss foe with one blow.

As Cap’s vibranium shield is essential to how the star-spangled hero fights, it’s a key piece to the combat of Super Soldier. Players will be able to block all kinds of projectiles (deflecting if properly timed) bash enemies, and throw the shield to either knock an enemy to the ground or blow explosive barrels and gas tanks. The shield fling can also be used in coordination with the focus meter to cause one-hit knockouts that will take up one focus bar per enemy. Other shield uses include double-tapping the throw button to bounce it off multiple sources, driving it into the ground to knock enemies off balance, and charging forward with it to plow through foes. It’s a varied but simple way to just have fun punching and smacking ultra-Nazis in the face.

Unfortunately not much of the game is as good as its combat. The level design is meant to be that of an “open” world, but the narrative takes you on such a straight path around the facility that it actually feels on rails. The only true purpose of ever straying from the trail is if you fancy collectables and happened to miss a few in an area. There is a sewer system to be discovered that allows for a quicker trip, but it also isn’t necessary unless you’re achievement hunting.

Visuals here are acceptable, but don’t go looking to have your mind blown. Characters in cut scenes can be a little jarring, as animations sometimes seem awkward and creepy with lips not entirely synching up with the audio. It’s not a constant problem, but props up enough to take a player out of fully immersing themselves in certain scenes.

Chris Evans does a solid job providing his likeness and voice to the game, as do Neal McDonough, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, and J. J. Feild. Unfortunately, the voices of all other characters that appear in the film and are heard and seen in the game are not present. Those who fill in do a fine enough job, but it would have been great if the rest of the cast reprised their roles. The soundtrack is also enjoyable with patriotic overtones chiming through the story, but it isn’t anything memorable.

The narrative itself can be completed, collectables and all, in about 10 hours on the normal difficulty. Playing on the hardest can provide some more length, and beating the game for the first time unlocks a classic and Ultimate Universe costume with in-game perks that could entice you to play through a second time. There’s also challenge missions that provide a variety of gameplay tasks to be completed, but there are only ten in total and they’ll likely take you just over an hour to complete them all with a gold rating.

Captain America: Super Soldier is able to avoid some of the pitfalls that many comic book film adaptations suffer from their short and rushed development cycle. Beating up the evil forces of Red Skull’s HYDRA organization with the exceptional combat system doesn’t get old, and the expansion upon the Captain America universe is a welcome pleasure for fans of the comics. Unfortunately, the level design is not as open as one would hope and animations, especially in cinematics, can be off. Everything else is rather standard fair. It all makes Super Soldier a title that fans and gamers should enjoy, but leaves them tasting the wasted potential of what could have been. A solid recommendation for a rental, but perhaps only Captain America fans that don’t mind the shortcomings and limited length should consider a purchase.U


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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