Don't look at Captain America: Super Soldier as a movie game. While it's covered under SEGA's Marvel Movie license, and takes place in the movie universe, using voices and likenesses from the film (yes, including Chris Evans as Steve Rogers), this game has more in common with Batman: Arkham Asylum than Iron Man.
When you step into Cap's shoes the first time, you'll quickly notice something about this game - it is a damn good time. Basic combat here is fast and smooth, while clearly based around more brutal strong-arm hand-to-hand than any kind of advanced martial artist. This is a guy trained to disarm, disable, and take out, and that's what ever single punch, kick, and shield strike is clearly designed to do.
That shield comes in handy. In basic combat you can use it to push back opponents, offensively to knock them out, and of course you can also throw it. The shield throw has a simple one button tap for a basic arc throw, or a hold and aim for a more precise shield-to-the-head. No matter how many times you perform the throw, it just doesn't get old. Watching the shield bounce around the room, ricocheting off a column and into the back of a Hydra agent's skull is satisfying every single time. In defense, the bullet deflection is about ten times more fun than it looks, and it looks incredible. Watching a soldier drop because of their own shot is just funny.
The ultimate in close quarters combat, however, is the brutal takedowns and weaponizations. The first is exactly what it sounds like, the second presents itself in different ways depending on the enemy you're fighting. Some will have a standard machine gun- weaponizing them means using them as a human shield and taking over their gun to shoot the other Hydra agents down. One we saw had an electrified prod, which Cap grabbed and jammed into the guy's own chest. It's wartime, baby, and Captain America ain't playing around.
In addition to the combat, there are tons of collectibles scattered around, and secondary objectives or ways to navigate levels that aren't at first very visible. A tap of the up d-pad button turns the world temporarily into a burnt old-photo style look, with optional pickups highlighted. It's a nice touch that fits in with the style and time period of the game while still giving you helpful hints. Navigating the expansive castle (and this castle is expansive- the portion we played in took us through several rooms and multiple levels, and it was a tiny fraction of the three-layer map) feels about halfway through the Prince of Persia games and the Uncharted series. Movement is fluid as you hop from a pole to a bannister and swing yourself around the corner of a building before climbing through the next window. Timing is everything, as that builds up combo points, and unlocks some of those stronger moves we just talked about.
While we didn't get to see a boss fight in this early demo, we did get to do a couple of "micro-games" including short-circuiting a control board by drawing two wires delicately toward each other, and using a cypher to break into locked rooms. They were nice breaks from the hectic combat, and were also quick enough to not be annoying. As far as those bosses go, Game Director Brandon Gill assures us they'll not just be fun and challenging, but they'll fit into the game world quite naturally.
"We designed the bosses to be able to be dropped in and function anywhere in the game world. That means you can use your whole arsenal against them, you won't be limited to one type of gameplay. They're accompanied by a whole bunch of henchmen, but they don't just stand up and tell them to attack you, they get in there and fight you, too."
That will come in handy in the game's Challenge modes, where you can fight assorted groups of enemies, including some of these bosses, in closed arena style matches. Not all Challenges will be of that standard format though. Gill described one that is a "top-down hedge maze where you can't attack until you pick up a certain collectible, then you can attack for a limited amount of time." No word on if Cap will wear a yellow helmet for that mode.
In just a twenty minute playable section, we got a taste of dialogue, including some nice humorous bits, and even already a few nice comic book fan Easter eggs that were fun to see so early. It's clear that writer Christos Gage didn't just respect the source material of Captain America from both the comics and the movie, but also had fun. In particular, he and Gill joked about all the ways Gage found to say "one falls, and two shall take his place," one of the big Hydra mottos. It's done from a militant fervor point of view sometimes, and sometimes more casually.
"At one point, two guys fighting side-by-side and one of them dies, the other will just kinda go 'eh, two shall take his place.' He doesn't care!" Gage said with a laugh. He didn't find Hydra being the only enemy limiting at all, either. "No," he said, "it's a Hydra base. I figured, go with Hydra. EMBRACE THE HYDRA!"
While Gage may be embracing Hydra, you'll be more than happy just punching them in the face, headbutting them, shield charging them, cracking bones and skulls and knocking them out while they're knocked to the floor, and bringing down their whole world. Because Captain America: Super Soldier, if this first playable demo is any indication, is going to be a game that wins wars.