E3 2011: CAPTAIN AMERICA Game Looks Good

After two hands-on demos with Captain America: Super Soldier, we were cautiously optimistic that the game would defeat the infamous "movie game" curse. Having played the full final game, it has better gameplay, production value, and overall fun and excitement than you'd expect from a movie game, but one thing made it fall short of greatness: it's short length.

We spend a lot of time talking about the curse of movie games; they either adhere too much to the film's story, not exploring the overall universe of the character, or they use tacked-on controls and lower production values to push a game out as fast as possible. This game does neither of those things. In a side-story to the movie's, you play as Captain America, who alongside his allies Bucky Barnes, Dum Dum Dugan (called the Invaders, not the Howling Commandos in this game, a switcheroo the Producer told us was originally planned for the film and changed too late to change the game), and more, is attempting to infiltrate and take down a Hydra stronghold that plays host to a secret weapon. The game looks and sounds great, with the voice of Chris Evans delivering a solid performance of comic book writer Christos Gage's snappy script. The graphics are what you'd expect from a mid-to-late point in console lifespan, with some neat effects layered into the gameplay itself.

There's nothing quite as cool about being Captain America as throwing his shield, and the game lets you do that from the very beginning, thankfully. As you build up momentum in platforming or battle, you can also build up a meter that allows you to unleash brutal – and deadly – special attacks. Weaponizing is insanely fun and cool, with Cap turning Hydra soldiers' weapons on themselves or each other to cause more carnage. Hand-to-hand combat is effectively a slightly simplified version of 's; combos aren't quite as smooth as in the game it borrowed from, but things like counters and deflecting bullets back into the face of the person who shot at you with your shield just doesn't get old. Regular combat techniques are used even in the boss battles, which is a nice touch. There's a lot of bullet deflection, distraction, leaping/flipping over enemies, and slamming your fist or shield directly into their faces. On the down end of combat, there are also a lot of contextual "quick timed events" to end boss battles, and a couple of them will frustrate you. Fans of the franchise will be thrilled with the bosses you fight, however, like Baron von Strucker, Iron Cross, and even Madame Hydra. Then there's that secret weapon controlled by... well, we won't spoil it for you.

Platforming sequences borrow heavily from games like Uncharted and Prince of Persia. You don't have go-anywhere climb-anything access like you do in some of those games, but the timing-focused leaping from ledge to pole to around the corner is fun and shows off the agility part of the super soldier equation. As mentioned above, it also helps build up your special attack meter – fun and useful!

So if overall the game is so fun, why the middle-of-the-road review? Like the platforming sections, it's all in the timing. The game keeps track of play time; with exploration, nearly every collectible and full completion of the game, my playthrough clocked in at 5 hours, 31 minutes, and 19 seconds, including the credits. That's not the shortest game ever by a longshot, but for a game focused solely on single-player, it is a bit too short. There are some challenge maps to extend things a bit, and unlockable costumes (ultimate and 616) and collectibles to encourage you to play more times through, but it's disappointing that to play even 10 hours of this game, you have to play all the way through twice.

If the biggest complaint about a movie-based game from SEGA is that it's fun enough to want more of it, well, they've clearly come a long way from previous Marvel movie games. Captain America: Super Soldier is a fun game, with some really cool explosive moments, and definitely will play to the super soldier power fantasies of fans of the character. It shows why Captain America is cool, and who wins in a fight of shield, punch, gun.

Oh and as far as those credits go? Watch them all the way through; you not only get an achievement or trophy, but also one of those after-credits sequences Marvel is famous for.

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