Captain America Super Soldier: review

Captain America: Super Soldier has spread itself across nearly every platform (and in fact would have been on them all had the PC and PSP versions not been cancelled) and ties into the plot of the recent Captain America: The First Avenger movie, chronicling one of the clashes between the all-American hero and his Invader allies against the Red Skull’s Hydra Army.

The basic plot and the events that unfold in this 3DS outing and the bigger brothers on console are very similar. Captain America leads the charge on a Hydra base that was once an ancient castle belonging to Baron Zola, who isn’t too happy about the occupation of his home and actually sides with the allied forces as a result. From disabling AA guns to taking down Hydra officers, anyone who has played a console version of Super Soldier will feel significant deja vu early on.

Across nine levels broken into different areas of the castle you’ll explore, fight, platform and have the opportunity to take part in a number of side quests to unlock concept art, character dossiers and more. These optional distractions include taking out hidden bombs, rescuing prisons of war, finding hidden artefacts belonging to Baron Zola, and also challenges.

For a 3DS game the visuals are fairly good, and the 3D effect is well used in terms of visual appeal without being significant in any way to gameplay; for example watching as Captain America corkscrews through an explosion in slow motion as the camera circles around him. Each area is usually broken into a twenty minute chunk of gameplay (more if you do all optional objectives) with regular checkpoint saves which is handy for those who, like us, tend to suffer headaches rather quickly if exposed to the 3DS’ full effect for too long.

While there are intermittent platforming sections (made all too easy by the captain almost auto-locking from one to the next as long as you see a directional arrow where you want to go) and also a fair chunk of shield deflecting or throwing related puzzles (which never really test the brain too much), like the console versions you will spend most of your time fighting Hydra forces.

As in other versions of the game, this one features a hand-to-hand combat system that can only be described as one which is heavily influenced by that created by Rocksteady for Batman: Arkham Asylum/City. Captain America will glide around the battlefield locking from one soldier to the next, unleashing combos and countering attacks from any direction if a button is pressed when prompted, complete with slow motion finishers on the last enemy to be brought down and using his shield like Batman uses batarangs.

Should SEGA should be applauded for using a free-flowing brawling style of gameplay which is addictive and translates surprisingly well onto a hand-held, or criticised for so shamelessly stealing someone else’s good idea? It’s a contentious issue. In time it may well be that free-flow combat becomes to brawlers what regenerating shields in Halo did to shooters, and that may not be a bad thing.

The game steadily introduces new enemy types beyond the basic Hydra troopers who either engage in fisticuffs or shoot at range, such as officers which encourage peons into doing an unblockable attack, or evasive sword-wielding female Hydra who must be stunned first. Later in the game large brutes are introduced, which take altogether far too long to take down in comparison to what is supposed to be the toughest enemy (a grenade firing large robot type) which only needs one grenade flung back at it to expose a one-hit kill chance.

There is a levelling system in place, but we honestly couldn’t really tell much difference in any of the upgrades we picked other than one which points out the location of collectables. There aren’t any to increase your damage or health for example, just to lock onto more targets when throwing your shield or to add some combat moves.

You will be using your shield a lot to stun or to solve puzzles as previously mentioned, and it gets a little annoying that there is no button to instantly reset the camera behind Cap’s back. This would make things much less frustrating at times. With the way the shoulder buttons are placed on the 3DS it can also be cumbersome to sometimes defend with the right shoulder button and then ready your throw with left shoulder, and then aim using a finger on the touch screen.

Rounding off the experience are a few boss battles. These usually boil down to learning the attack routine, exposing a weakness which leads to a Quick Time Event, then repeating for three times total. That said some of the larger fights and the final boss were actually quite impressive for a handheld. Strangely, though there are quite a few bosses, not one of them is Captain America’s nemesis the Red Skull. Though Red Skull does appear for the final quarter of the game there isn’t much to his presence, and this is especially confusing given that the game box promises that you will ‘Battle the infamous Hydra Army and the evil Red Skull.”

The 3DS outing for Captain America isn’t a bad game, thanks largely to the borrowed fighting style and fair enough graphics and puzzle solving. It just isn’t a huge game or exceptionally memorable, or one with much replay value once finished; but it’s worth a look by new and old fans of the super soldier that haven’t already tried a version available on the consoles.

 

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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