Captain America: Super Soldier
A tonic for the troops?
Review Games based around movies have a reputation (most would say justly deserved) of seldom living up to their silver screen counterparts, while those timed to debut simultaneously with their movie counterparts have an even worse success to failure ratio.
It might not come as a massive shock to anyone out there then, that Captain America: Super Soldier is a release that continues in these traditions.
Butt in the face
Alas, to play it is to experience every wrong of game design, most objectionable of all being that it clearly just isn't quite finished. At least, I hope that's the case because if the product sincerely represents what developer Next Level Games envisioned in the design stages, then something has certainly gone awry.
The pressure to get this kind of time-dependent release onto store shelves to coincide with the movie's release is undoubtedly massive, but perhaps getting a saleable product out, even after the film has been and gone, is a better marketing strategy than releasing substandard ware to run with the current Captain America hype.
Before the autopsy begins, to set the scene, we’re in the midst of a Marvel-tainted World War Two where Hitler’s forces have been bolstered by the nefarious Red Skull, a scientist with a gift for technology.
By equipping his so-called Hydra forces with advanced weapons, the Nazis have slowly been gaining the initiative in their quest for world domination.
Enter one Steve Rogers, a formerly scrawny artistic type made rock hard by a clandestine US Military scientific process and rechristened Captain America.
Winging in the ear
Cap’s first action in the game is to save some of his fellow troops from Hydra troops and it’s here that you will get your first taste of a combat system which borrows heavily from Batman: Arkham Asylum without ever reaching the heights of flexibility, variation and sheer oomph that Rocksteady made look so simple.
Theoretically, in Captain America, it’s possible to link combinations and maintain a flow of moves as attentions are turned from one enemy to the next. In practice, however, the reality isn’t quite so palatable.
With enemies seemingly hesitant to get involved in a fight, content to stand out of arm’s reach and leave the combat to whichever of their colleagues is nearest, it becomes increasingly tedious to have the Captain move from one victim to the next, thus interrupting his flow.
Yes, it’s possible to roll and leap to cover space quickly, but with the auto-targeting of such leaps slightly off, the free-flowing combat falls short of the system which made Batman so thrilling.
Hit the deck
Then there’s his ‘mighty’ shield, Captain America’s signature weapon and device to block incoming attacks, inevitably opening up the ability to counter if your timing is up to it.
It’s a system seen a thousand times before and one not particularly well implemented here; blocks resulting in stop/start combat, rather than acting as a conduit to keep the fists flying.
At least it’s satisfying to send snipers’ bullets ricocheting back to their owners but after doing so for the hundredth time, even that tiny thrill wanes.
The shield can also be used as a projectile, allowing for long distance attacks either auto locking onto the nearest hostiles or aimed manually, albeit somewhat laboured this way.