Guest Author - James Shea
A beat-em-up game starring the famous star-spangled hero, "Captain America: Super Soldier" pits the Cap against the evil forces of HYDRA during World War 2.
"Captain America: Super Soldier" covers the titular Captain's efforts to take down a HYDRA-held castle in Bavaria. The entire game takes place in the castle, which is fairly well-realized in terms of size and content. The Captain's enemies will range from HYDRA minions armed with stun-rods to mechanical monstrosities with futuristic weapons. The game does a great job getting to the heart of the comic-book aesthetic while still using a very grounded and "realistic" version of World War 2 as its backdrop - in essence pulling off exactly what its movie equivalent managed to do.
The game's fighting is undoubtedly its strongest and most enjoyable point. The Cap uses both his body and his special shield to defeat foes. The square button delivers punches and kicks, the triangle button grabs foes, and the circle button is used for timed counterattacks. The R2 button throws Cap's shield, which can be useful for puzzles as well as combat. Pressing the "X" button in conjunction with a direction sends Cap flipping, rolling, or cartwheeling off in that direction. This is a necessity during battles, as HYDRA's minions have no concept of chivalry (unlike games like Assassin's Creed). As such, constant movement and evasion is necessary to win battles, and the game is particularly responsive in that regard. Cap will flip over enemies, and his throws and grapples reflect his location when he initiates them (so a grab from behind will look different from a grab from the front).
In addition to his normal attacks and maneuvers, Captain America also has a range of special maneuvers that can have greater effects. There's a four-bar "special" meter that fills up as enemies are defeated, and Cap's different powers use up different amounts of that meter. The basic "critical strike" delivers a powerful attack (in slow motion) that can take down most basic foes with one hit. The second special ability - taking up two bars - is "Weaponize", which turns the enemy's weapons against themselves or their allies. Enemies wielding large missile weapons, for example, are grappled so that the Cap can use their guns against their comrades. The third special ability is "Super Soldier", which takes up four bars, and simply makes the Cap much faster and stronger than he normally is for a brief period of time. Captain America can also target multiple enemies with his shield in a single ricocheting throw, which uses up one bar per enemy.
The combat in "CA:SS" is enjoyable for multiple reasons. From a gameplay standpoint, it's very well put together and rewards gamers with good reflexes instead of bogging them down with bad mechanics. From a visual standpoint, the impact of punches and kicks and shield-bashes are all very satisfying, and the slow-mo attacks don't get old or repetitive like they do in a lot of games because they're relatively limited in terms of their usage. The weakest aspect of the game is the Quick-Time Events that accompany most bosses; these tend to be more frustrating than engaging. For example, a boss will grapple you and you'll have to mash a random button to get out - but if you accidentally hit the wrong button, you automatically lose. In some cases this is necessary to finish off a boss, who will regain health if you manage to mess up. Yet despite this the game's core gameplay remains engaging and interesting in and of itself.
While the game's graphics and sound are weak individually, they work acceptably as part of the game. The lip-sync in cutscenes isn't the best, and faces look kind of unreal, but those are things that are barely noticeable once the game is actually in motion. The music ought to be better - it's not so much "bad" as it is "slow and plodding", a stark contrast to the fast-paced combat. Overall, though, "Captain America: Super Soldier" is a good game for anyone who wants well-executed comic book action.
We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.
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