Captain America: Super Soldier Review
Game: Captain America: Super Soldier
Developer: High Voltage Software
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS)
Back in June, the Marvel movie Captain America: First Avenger hit the theatres and as is usual now in video games, a movie tie-in video game soon followed suit. Followed on all consoles except the Nintendo 3DS; until now.
One thing that Nintendo seemingly failed to do when they announced the Nintendo 3DS is to educate people that the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS are totally different games consoles, the Nintendo 3DS isn’t just a 3D version of the DS and, as such, the Nintendo 3DS version of Captain America: Super Soldier is a totally different version to the Nintendo DS one. It’s easy to see why SEGA and High Voltage Software wanted to get a game out for the Nintendo 3DS but is putting one out when the DVD/Blu-Ray is about to come out instead of when it’s at the cinema a smart marketing move or did they miss the boat?
STORY: The story starts off during World War 2 and follows Cap through his journeys against the mysterious Hydra. You’ll battle enemies and discover secrets all while doing the one thing that everybody plays a Captain American game for, throwing the shield. The events of the game follow the same basic course as the movie for the most part with small deviations in order to keep everything within the context of a portable video game; you don’t want to spend half your time watching cutscenes when you could be getting back in on the action!
As with a lot of movie tie-ins the story assumes that you’ve seen, or are at least aware of the film that it’s based on and as such not a lot of backstory or character introductions are done through the game, you’re just expected to know each of the characters that appear within the game and if you don’t then your options are to look them up or just hope that you’ll be able to figure it out further down the line. It’s not too difficult to figure everything out though and someone who’s at least paying a little bit of attention won’t have much trouble at all; it just would have been nice to have at least a little bit of an introduction.
GRAPHICS: The visuals throughout the game are quite good and while it’s certainly obvious that the 3DS version of Captain America: Super Soldier as vastly superior to the DS version (as you would expect from a superior console) it definitely doesn’t push the Nintendo 3DS to its limits. That being said, the graphics are perfectly adequate and any small problems people may have would be forgotten about soon enough.
One of the aspects of the visuals that are particularly enjoyable is the stylised nature of all of the character models, the Nintendo 3DS isn’t capable of rendering high quality visuals to the extent that would be seen on a non-handheld console so seeing these simpler, yet more stylised versions of the characters that most of us would know is visually pleasing and adds a lot to the charm of the game on the whole.
As this game was reviewed on the 3DS it would be remiss of me not to mention the 3D aspect of Captain America: Super Soldier. Unfortunately the 3D is painful to look at for extended periods of time, especially with the camera moving around so rapidly and so often. It’s not that the 3D itself causes problems this time around, as seems to be the case with a lot of other games, this time it’s the in-game camera that moves so awkwardly that it forces the user to refocus on the screen in order to see the 3D again. Personally I turned the 3D completely off, which is something I’ve never done (and vowed never to do) so that fact alone made me seriously think about how the 3D was used in this title; the answer was not very well.
SOUND: The sound in Captain America: Super Soldier isn’t particularly great, a lot of sounds, especially enemies voices and weapon firing sounds, will be repeated over and over again and you’ll eventually get fed up of hearing some of them. The lack of decent sound design isn’t really helped on the 3DS with the speakers that are built into the console, stick some headphones and you’ll probably have a better audio experience but unfortunately this doesn’t vary the sound effects so you’re still going to have to deal with that.
The sound acting is quite good throughout the game with all of the characters that speak doing so with authority, all of them seem to totally embody the character they’re portraying. You don’t get to hear the voice acting all too often but at least when you do, it’ll sound as good as the Nintendo 3DS is capable of.
GAMEPLAY: For the most part Captain America: Super Soldier generally plays fine, just like every other third person action game there’s a lot of jumping, a lot of shooting and a lot of dodging. Thankfully all of the actions that you’re going to be doing a lot of the time are really simple to do, bullets don’t come towards the player too fast, so they’re easy enough to dodge if you’re paying attention. Sure it’s not that realistic but you’re playing a game about a Super Soldier, surely there’s already a little bit of a suspension of disbelief at work.
One of the gameplay aspects that I was impressed with was the environment traversal, instead of trying to aim that one jump so that Cap lands on a piece of the world that’s a foot wide, a small arrow appears that just lets you know that if you tap the ‘A’ button Steve will jump to that point. No aiming, no falling, no difficulty. With a camera that is as difficult to control as in Captain America: Super Solder this feature is an absolute godsend.
The absence of a second analog stick obviously means that control of the camera is taken away from the player, this causes massive gameplay issues in Captain America as the camera will often go wherever it wants and the player has no way of correcting it. On any of the current generation consoles, with the second analog stick, if players come across a situation where they find themselves running towards the camera, a quick flick of the analog stick would place that pesky camera behind their character. In Captain America: Super Soldier even something as relatively simple as moving the camera is a exercise in frustration. More than once I had to move the circle pad furiously until the camera figured out what I wanted and rectified itself, but not before I’d been killed a few times by enemies that I couldn’t see due to the camera being in the wrong position.
Captain America: Super Soldier takes a lot of inspiration from popular games of the current generation, one of the more obvious inspirations is the countering system from the Batman games. In Captain America: Super Solider players will be asked to press the ‘X’ button just before an enemy connects their attack with Cap and he’ll counter the attack. It’s nowhere near as flashy as Batman’s counters but they work, they keep you alive and, just as in Batman, they do feel kind of cool to pull off. Especially when you pull off a couple of them in a row.
One of the most annoying aspects of Captain America: Super Soldier is the controls, all of them are just about functional but aren’t anything to write home about. The one control system that never seems to work properly is when it comes to throwing Captain America’s famous shield. Players will be tasked with holding a button while touching the touch screen to aim the direction that the shield is going to be heading in. This way of controlling the shield isn’t exactly the most intuitive thing in the world and is far from being the most comfortable way of controlling anything either.
LONGEVITY: The story mode is quite short, so having something extra to keep people involved for a little longer was always going to be a plus. Throughout each level there are items to destroy, destroy all of them within a particular level and you’ll unlock something, more often than not a piece of concept art. It’s not much but it will keep a good few people playing long after they would have normally stopped. The items that are unlocked are a nice little addition and some of the unlockable items are quite interesting to look through too.
VERDICT: As far as movie tie-in games go Captain America: Super Soldier isn’t the worst game out there, while the 3D is painful the stylised visuals give players something relatively well designed to look at through their time with the game, however long or short that might be. The extra little things that are dotted around each of the levels for people to collect will keep some people interested for a little while but ultimately it won’t take much at all to divert most people’s attention away from Captain America: Super Soldier and towards something all together more shiny.