“I CAN DO THIS ALL DAY!”
Move over, G.I. Joe! There’s only one true American hero, and I guarantee his shield could knock you and your wussified “Kung-Fu grip” on your butt in the blink of an eye. Can this flag-wearing, Hitler-punching badass overcome the stigma of terrible movie-to-game adaptations with Captain America: Super Soldier?
Video games based on movies don’t have the best reputation, but games based on movies that were already adapted from an existing property are even more notorious. There are the occasional outliers, like Batman: Arkham Asylum and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but there’s another such title that was left forgotten on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Marvel’s Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America, is enjoying his well-deserved time in the spotlight thanks to a long series of live-action adventures, but to coincide with 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Sega and Next Level Games saw fit to give ol’ Cap one hell of a digital romp through a massive Hydra castle. The fine folks of Next Level Games are obviously true American patriots. Okay, sure… they’re based out of Vancouver, Canada… but never mind that! They’re patriots, I tells ya. AMERICA!!!
Ahem. So, after being put into the boots of the good Captain, you’re dropped straight into the trenches of World War II and given the opportunity to break plenty of Nazi skulls. You’ll punch, slam, dodge, duck, and occasionally shoot your way straight through hundreds of Hydra goons in your quest to infiltrate a German mad scientist’s castle. As you go along, blowing up anti-aircraft turrets and rescuing prisoners of war also become priorities while you loot your way through the compound.
Yeah, that’s right — I said loot. Steve Rogers clearly should have been called Captain Plunderer, ‘cause this star-spangled kleptomaniac can’t help but steal anything that isn’t bolted to the floor. Not that I can blame him, though. Do the Nazis really deserve to have such an impressive ceramic egg collection? Hell no! And apparently the same could be said about their religious statues, cameo portraits, gold-plated helmets, film reels, beer steins, intel folders, briefcases, family heirlooms, diary pages, hawk statues and HOLY CRAP, WHERE DOES HE STORE ALL OF THIS JUNK?!! What the hell does he do in his spare time, run a flea market? I don’t seem to recall him being one of the American Picker guys.
Apparently he also stole Bruce Wayne’s fighting style, ‘cause the fantastic combat here is nearly identical to that seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum, of course with a few special alterations and additions befitting of Captain America. Besides, why should that pointy-eared, bat-worshipping nutjob be able to hog all the fun? This is the first Avenger we’re talkin’ about here. He deserves only the best!
It’s just too bad that the Nazis spent so much time on their nefarious schemes instead of focusing on interior decorating, ‘cause Castle Zemo isn’t quite comparable to the fantastic Arkham Asylum building. The environments are just varied enough to keep me from growing tired of the setting, despite the fact nearly the entire game (outside of the initial tutorial) takes place there, but there’s nothing too remarkable either. It also helps that, unlike Arkham, there are plenty of ledges, flagpoles, and ziplines for the hero to show off his best Prince of Persia skills, since Cap just isn’t into that whole “stealth” thing.
Unlike a lot of other movie tie-ins, this game nabbed the main cast to reprise the roles of their on-screen characters. Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, and even Hugo Weaving all lent their voices to the story. This gives the experience tons of authenticity, just as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (The Joker) did for the Arkham games.
THE VERDICT: 7.5 OUT OF 10
Look. Arkham Asylum is obviously still going to hang onto its crown as the King of superhero games, but it also had a clear advantage. This game had a rushed development cycle in order to release in time for the movie, and keeping that in mind, this is a pretty freakin’ good game. What we have here is a surprisingly fun, respectable effort to combat the horrible movie-to-game curse.
If you happen across this title in a bargain bin or local flea market, you really can’t go wrong by buying it. If nothing else, it’ll get you hyped up for Captain America: Civil War. The gameplay is standard but solid, there could have been a bit more visual polish, and the story could stand to last a little longer. But between the campaign, unlockable challenge stages, the damn-near dizzying amount of collectibles, and the respect to the titular hero’s history, I can honestly say this is worth a play. You never know; the shield just may suit you.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Chris Cobb is an Associate Writer for MONG, and doesn’t leave the house unless he’s wearing his red, white, and blue pajamas. Armed with his hand-painted garbage can lid, he takes to the streets to combat crime — and never lets the mocking laughter get to him. If you wish to contact him, call the receptionist at Arkham Asylum — or look to Youtube and Twitter.