Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Captain America: Super Soldier review

    Licensed tie-in games suck. This is a universal rule. There's a reason for this. By and large, the tie-in games are made by apathetic developers who have to crank it out ASAP. The developers may or may not have much knowledge of the material involved and will undoubtedly find the people above their heads uncaring about the quality of the product. Being asked to develop a tie-in game is almost a licensed to half-ass things. There's been like one exception in the history of gaming with the Chronicles of Riddick tie-in game.

   SEGA, known purveyors of tie-in half-assery, said they would try and avoid it with Captain America: Super Soldier. It was still made with virtually all the same restraints but the developers were passionate about the material. Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, and others do the voices for the game while the mentioning of characters from the comic books (Madame Hydra, Master Man, Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo) made me cautiously optimistic. What's my verdict? Short version: It's an Arkham Asylum clone. Longer version: There are worse things to be than an Arkham Asylum clone.

Captain America punches Nazis. It's not a bad premise by any stretch of the imagination.
    The premise of the game is pretty simple. Captain America finds evidence of a secret HYDRA plot to create super-soldiers identical to himself and is air dropped into the kind of Prussian castle that has existed in Pulp fiction since time memorial. Steve proceeds to whoop ass through a variety of his WW2-era foes plus hordes of Nazi mooks.

    Captain America displays uncharacteristic looting behavior as well, getting achievements for stealing ceramic eggs, steins, and WW1 helmets along his way. I'm pretty sure that's illegal, Steve. Like in Batman: Arkham Asylum, there are tapes and diary entries from the various villains encountered in the game as well. The game got an extra-point to its score by including information from one of my favorite Thunderbolts mini-series, Baron Zemo: Born Better, which is not the sort of thing I expected to see in a game.

There's a lot of scenes like this.
    Sadly, it's not as good as Arkham Asylum. Part of the fun of Arkham Asylum was the joys of stealth combat, which is entirely absent from the game. Steve just plows into each room, throws his shield like a boomerang, and moves onto the next one. Even the acrobatic sections don't make much sense since it's mostly the case of going to the highlighted sections before pressing A. The code-breaking mini-game is also ridiculously easy, consisting of comparing two diagrams and finding out which figures match.

    There's another element that I'm going to be anal retentive over; that the game screws up the continuity of the movies in one small but very obvious way. Several times during the game, the HYDRA goons very obviously say, "Heil Hitler." This is a mistake because the HYDRA forces of the movieverse have broken with the Third Reich. I only bring this up because it's a strange setting detail to forget when they got so much else right and it's harder to like the villains when they're directly a part of Hitler's regime.

It's like Wolfenstein 3D meets Arkham Asylum.
    For example: my absolute favorite character from the game is Madame Hydra. I've always been a fan of Viper and she's lovingly rendered in the game as well as deliciously evil. Of all the Captain America rogues I hope to see in upcoming movies, she's definitely high there on the list. Here, she manages to properly combine sexpot and prison warden. Bravo, Sega.

    There's a lot of beating up Nazis, robots, and cybernetically altered zombies in the game. So much so that you'll be reminded of another famous Nazi killing series. This isn't a bad thing, though, because if you're going to steal then steal from the best. The game feels a bit like a step down from Arkham Asylum because Captain America doesn't have a grappling hook like Batman or Detective vision but he does have a lot of throwing shield tricks so I suppose it evens out. Sadly, while Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is heard, she doesn't join you on your adventure to shut down Hydra's main research base.

I'd say she reminds me of my wife but I doubt Kat would appreciate the comparison. It's just the nose, really! Not the evil!
    Still, the game is enjoyable enough and I didn't turn it off in the middle of play like I did with Marvel Ultimate Alliance. It's a step down from Arkham Asylum and it's a little too easy but I appreciate the effort which went into this game. So I'm going to give it a seven and a half, maybe an eight if you're a fan of the characters. This tie-in game did not suck, but it could have been much better. A pity they're not making a sequel. Maybe they could as a tie-in game for the next movie.

     The best part of the game is the fact it's really something that captures the spirit of being Captain America. You're punching Nazis in a Neo-Pulp story about attacking a castle full of despicable Nazi aristocrats and super-soldiers. The Wolfenstein parallels are deliberate and obvious but that's a good thing.



  1. I believe the tie in game that didn't suck example you were looking for is Goldeneye.

    1. Damn, you're right! I completely missed that one!