You really can’t say Sega and Next Level games didn’t try. For Captain America: Super Soldier, the game loosely based on this summer’s big
budget adaptation of Marvel’s long running comic series, they took obvious inspiration from Batman: Akrham Asylum; widely regarded as
the best comic book video game of all time. Unfortunately, they only borrowed the game’s ideas, and failed to capture what made the caped crusader’s latest adventure so memorable. That being said, it’s not all bad, and it may not be saying much, but Captain America: Super Soldier reaches heights that other Marvel games could only dream of.
Much like most video games based on comics book movies, the adventure in Captain America: Super Soldier takes place within the universe of the movie but doesn’t follow the events precisely. This isn’t an origin story so you won’t have to take Steve Rogers from scrawny Brooklyn kid to National Hero, instead much like Arkham Asylum, the entirety of the game takes place in one location, a castle high in the Bavarian mountains. It’s a sprawling complex, and it’s also home to scientist Armin Zola and his ruthless creations. Your job of course is to go in to the castle, stop Zola and destroy pretty much everything in the process.
What separates a game like Captain America from one like Arkham Asylum is simply how engrossing it is, and this is the game’s first misstep; as much of the game’s six hour campaign is incredibly dull and forgettable. Go into an area, punch a bunch of guys in their face, whip out the shield and move on. Of course, there are some moments that break up this monotony, but they’re few and far between. Of course, the combat is not only responsive, but surprisingly rewarding, but even it’s not enough to break up Captain America’s monotony of bleak browns and grays.
That lack of detail also spills out into just how the game is designed. While playing the game, you feel the sprawling castle should be explored, but thanks to the tedious and dull level design it’s never quite as satisfying as it should be. It’s almost as if the developers realized this halfway through as they included a sewer system that goes underneath pretty much the entire castle to streamline travel and give you an option other than retracing your steps constantly through the castle. For what it’s worth, there’s a ton of collectibles you can find throughout Captain America, but none of them are things you’ll want. Beer steins? Whatever. Why not give me collectible comic book covers I can view, or movie art, or something other than random crap?
Captain America does its best to imitate a free-roam game, but is really a linear experience in every sense of the term. There are platforming sections that give the illusion that you’re free to explore and free to go about the game your own way, but in reality you’re still just moving from narrow corridor to narrow corridor. This has a definite effect on just how you’ll play through the game as you’re bound to get frustrated as you feel like you should get to that item, but it’s always just out of reach.
Captain America did nail one of the aspects from Batman: Arkham Asylum, the fact that you’ll never really get a quality boss fight with the one you’ve been waiting to take out for the entire game. Oh, there are some pretty frequent boss fights with some of Cap’s most famous recurring enemies like Iron Cross and Madame Viper, but you’ll never get that face with Red Skull you’ve been waiting the whole game for. You play through the entire game, slogging through tedious boss fight after tedious boss fight, waiting to get to the epic battle, but it never comes – it’s really all quite cheap.
There’s also something to be said for just how clean Captain America really is. Strangely, you’re playing as the same character who punched Adolf Hitler in the face on the cover of one the comics, but there’s absolutely no mention of Hitler, the Third Reich or the Nazi party. Instead, the soldiers with the goofy German accent are Hydra soldiers. I understand that putting such touchy topics in a game that kids will undoubtedly play, but these same topics are discussed in the movie, why hide it? Why make the game so squeaky clean?
The Blast Factor: Clocking in at just about 5-6 hours with no multiplayer, Captain America is slim on content and features, but that doesn’t mean it should be avoided at all costs. At the very least, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of Thor, Iron Man and other Marvel movie tie ins and that came before it, even if that’s not saying much. Still though, one of Marvel’s biggest names deserves better; there’s always The Avengers.