|Captain America: Super Soldier|
|Platforms||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
|Genre||Captain America: Arkham Asylum|
|MtAMinutes to Action||2|
|Keep Playing?||I guess so|
|Buy from Amazon|
I think I like Captain America because he's sort of the underdog. In a universe of telekinetic superbeings and indestructible immortals, Cap's basically just a buff dude with a shield with a penchant for punching Hitler. I like to think he's Marvel's Batman, the mere man who needs only his natural resourcefulness (and a liberal dose of super-steroids) to be a star player in the superhuman leagues.
Apparently, Next Level Games sees a similar link between Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers. Charged with developing the game that would tie into Captain America: The First Avenger, the developer appears to have taken some inspiration from Batman: Arkham Asylum. Among other details, Captain America's context sensitive combat style especially reminds me of the dark knight's award-winning game.
Despite favorable previews and some excellent games in the developer's back library, I haven't forgotten that Captain America: Super Soldier is a game with a movie license. Stunted development time, split effort across all systems, and NLG's inexperience with HD consoles kept my expectations low going into the first hour.
The following is a video sample of some early goings in the CA:SS story mode. See Cap fight, decode, and get his gymnastics on.
- I was definitely not wrong about the combat taking a page from Batman's book. One button controls all of Cap's regular attacks, another triggers his acrobatic dodges, another his counterattacks, and the fourth makes Cap grab a guarding enemy. Add in some shield tosses, blocks, bullet deflections, and a few special strikes and you've got an elegant and flashy combat system.
- Combat aside, the shades of Arkham Asylum are even more prevalent than I predicted. The setting, Baron Zemo's Castle, appears to feature interconnected grounds, though the progression has been quite linear thus far.
- Code cracking and hotwiring sequences are overly simple. On the bright side, they take all of five seconds and use only the thumbsticks. As far as hacking minigames go, they're not prime offenders.
- Captain America's acrobatic leaps and swings around industrial sections of Castle Zemo are driven by those ever-loathsome quick time events, but at least failure merely slows you down.
- I'm a stickler for a solid framerate, and the game just doesn't cut it here. The fast-moving camera does a great disservice, making the otherwise smooth animations look like a slideshow. At its best, the game still seems to hover well below 30 frames per second.
- Oh my god the collectibles are everywhere. You can't walk into a parlor or an alley without stumbling over folders and film reels of precious HYDRA documents or, uhh...ceramic eggs? Most of this junk adds to Cap's experience points, to be spent on combat upgrades, but some unlock short film strips and audio diaries. It's nice to add content, but that nagging obligation to search every corner and pick up every flashing briefcase is a barefaced fluff solution.
- I actually saw the Captain America movie last week, and it has almost nothing to do with this game, despite featuring several overlapping characters. I doubt you'd spoil the movie by playing the game (and vice versa, I guess).
- The well-known voice of Steve Blum is in this game. I almost didn't recognize him through that German accent.
Minutes to Action: 2
Would I keep playing? I guess so. I really do like the combat system, which captures Captain America's acrobatic grace and power quite well, but the limited enemy variety is allowing that repetitious feeling to sink in. The peripheral gameplay elements don't support the cause, either. I'll soldier on for a bit, but I don't expect to finish this fight.