A couple of years ago Sega scooped up the rights to publish games based on the Marvel movie franchises. So far their efforts with Iron Man and Thor have been less than spectacular. This is especially true with their Wii versions of those games, which were apparently second thoughts to the already lackluster PS3 and 360 versions. We all know it’s hard for a developer to make a game based on a movie, which in turn was based on a comic book. But has developer High Voltage Software managed to shake the comic book to movie, to video game curse?
A Movie Tie in That Stands Alone
The story in Captain America: Super Soldier is set in the movie universe, complete with Chris Evan’s likeness and voice acting. However, the game doesn’t follow the events in the movie and is instead a side story dealing with one of the Red Skull’s weapon manufacturing hideouts. The story starts out with the Captain storming a French beach only to discover documents detailing the location of the hidden weapons plant built under a huge castle. Although the Red Skull does make an appearance in the game, he is not the focus of the story. Instead the castle and the various villains within the castle are Cap’s main adversaries. Ultimately the story is nothing to write home about, but it does a decent enough job representing 1940’s Captain America.
I don’t think the fact that the castle and the various villains are so prominently featured is a coincidence either. Captain America: Super Soldier was obviously modeled after Batman: Arkham Asylum. With the exception of the first level, the entirety of the game is set within the huge castle of Baron Von Zemo (much like the Asylum). Even more similar Batman is the Captain’s combat abilities. During almost every fight you will be surrounded by multiple enemies that Cap handily dispatches. In fact, the Caption really doesn’t have a problem solving things with his fists and his feat, until the game throws long range soldiers, close range soldiers, and robots at you all at once.
Decent Wii Controls? Really?
Controlling the combat on the Wii is fairly straight forward. The B button performs almost all of your frontal attacks, and the Z button is used to counter attack or parry. This set up is easy to pick up and play, but it does get repetitive after the first couple of levels. Thankfully, the motion controls are kept to a minimum, with the exception of the boss fights. Even then they aren’t terrible. But for some reason, the developers decided to throw in one of those quick button pressing sequences during the final boss fight. The kind where you have to hit the same button over and over again so fast that it feels like your finger is going to fall off. I really hate that cheap gameplay mechanic. But I can look past it since it only occurred once during the entire game.
Perhaps one of the game’s best features is the shield. On the Wii you control the shield primarily with an onscreen targeting reticule, much like a FPS. If you want to hit a long range target, simply point at it with the Wii-mote and hit the c button. You can also hold down the c button and go into a slow-motion mode where Cap can target up to 7 targets at once and then send the shield flying. It’s a method that works really well on the Wii. A word to the wise though, the shield has a star meter that limits the amount of things you can target at one time, and it takes time to recharge. So if you find that you can’t target something, it’s probably because your star meter needs to recharge.
Saturday Morning Steve Rogers
Captain America: Super Soldier on the Wii surprised me in the looks department. The developers did a smart thing and changed the look of the game to appear more cartoon like. The characters bodies are distorted to look more cartoonish with massive upper bodies, skinnier legs, and large fists. The game world has a cell shaded look to it, which may not be as highly detailed as other games, but looks good enough. The visuals actually remind me a lot of the Madden games on the Wii. To me this is a good decision because the Wii simply cannot create realistic looking graphics like the 360 and PS3 versions have.
If I have one major complaint about the game it’s that the setting does get a bit monotonous. Being inside of a castle throughout the entire game does get stale. Most levels contain several large rooms, connected by long hallways, then rinse repeat. But, the developers did try to alleviate this problem by throwing in a lion’s share of hidden collectibles. Each level features 3 hidden P.O.W.s to rescue, 10 bombs to destroy, and a hidden relic to find. Gathering up each item gives you experience and unlocks artwork for the game. Diligent gamers can also unlock the Captain’s traditional scale based uniform to play with.
It’s OK, But Not Great
After all is said and done Captain America: Super Soldier plays a lot like a watered downed Batman: Arkham Asylum, but with decent Wii controls thrown in. The game isn’t great, but it is a decent movie tie in that will take the average gamer about 6 to 7 hours to beat. It’s also fairly easy to finish and I think younger gamers will really get some enjoyment out of this title. If you’re a huge Captain America fan then you could probably look past the game’s repetitive combat and levels. If you consider yourself a hardcore gamer who needs AAA production out of your gaming dollar, then you should probably look elsewhere.