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Captain America: Super Soldier
Score: 72%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Next Level Games
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Almost every aspect of Captain America: Super Soldier has some good and bad points that makes certain aspects of the game feel great, but others a bit hard to get over.

For example, the game's central character, The Star Spangled Man himself, looks great. His leathery outfit and shiny shield fill the screen with great effect. Enemy troops, both great and small, also look good, but the rest of the game's visuals just don't seem to reach the same level that those character models do. While each location in Castle Zemo has a distinct enough feel to be easily identifiable when you do some backtracking, the areas within each level quickly blend together. It isn't long before each of the roads you walk down look alike and many of the rooms appear to be the same. This, combined with the very linear design of the game's levels, makes for an experience that isn't quite as impressive as it could have been.

Audio, on the other hand, seems to be an area where Super Soldier stands out. I was pretty impressed by how well the game conveyed the old war movie feel with its background music and sound effects. There were quite a few times during the game that I had the same heart-pumping feel the movie's action scenes conveyed. This, coupled with the fact that many actors from the film reprise their roles, chief among them is Chris Evans as the Captain, really helps to improve the overall feel of the game and counters the lack of graphical splendor.

Captain America: Super Soldier takes place not long after the Captain has earned the respect of his fellow soldiers and has started actively participating in the war. While the movie shows the Captain's origins, zooms past a bulk of the fighting and then concludes with the super soldier and his team taking out the last few HYDRA facilities, Captain America: Super Soldier focuses on one of the missions that takes place between those two events.

The Captain learns that there is a research facility developing new types of weapons in the Bavarian mountains. Cap goes in single-handed in order to take down the anti-aircraft weaponry in order to let the rest of his men join the fray. As a result, most of the game has you exploring the massive mountaintop castle and sabotaging what has been dubbed the Master Man project, one of the crazed Dr. Zola's newest experiments.

As I made my way through the castle and its surrounding town, I kept having flashbacks to the last Wolfenstein game, and couldn't help thinking how great it would be if Super Soldier followed that game's open-world model instead of the more traditional level-to-level one it has. In fact, there were a couple of times when I thought a re-skinning of Wolfenstein with the Captain instead of Billy Blazkowicz would have been perfect. Considering I had the same thoughts while watching Captain America: The First Avenger, this isn't too surprising.

The game does have a hub level that lets you go back and enter earlier levels you've already gotten through, but this attempt to make the game feel more open than it actually is just helps to point out how linear the whole thing is. After all, the use of a small sewer system to connect the levels with locked doors at each location you haven't already explored feels more forced than anything else.

The part of the gameplay that Captain America: Super Soldier does right though, is convey just how powerful the main character is. While the Cap doesn't use guns ... at least not in the game, I'm pretty sure he did in the film, his ability to use hand-to-hand combat is expertly portrayed. Not only does the game seem to have a wide range of attack animations to handle taking out enemies from pretty much any angle, but the ability to dodge around attacks and lay down some pretty brutal moves is one major showpiece.

Of course, there is also the Captain's shield. While his early shield-throwing abilities aren't too impressive, as you level him up, the ability to chain shield attacks and hit multiple enemies with a single throw increases and, once you get the hang of how to pull these moves off, the Captain really starts to show why they call him a super soldier.

Captain America: Super Soldier has three difficulty settings, and I tried out all three. I did notice a greater challenge among the higher settings, but there really isn't any foe Captain America can't handle, no matter what setting the game is on. The game tries to overwhelm you with enemies, but these bits of action come in short bursts that are typically followed by periods of running between rooms or down long hallways. While the ambushes and attacks were fun and really got the game moving, the in-between periods were too frequent and really seemed to slow the overall speed of the game down.

Super Soldier does have a few challenging points, but these are really only when the boss fights occur. If you are facing the grunts of the game, you are pretty much guaranteed to come out unharmed.

Game Mechanics:
Captain America: Super Soldier has a few control issues. While basic attacks and dodges are easy to pull off, performing some of the bigger moves tended to be a bit complicated and I rarely even found the need to perform them. Sure they came in handy when taking on some of the heavier troops, but for the most part, the Captain's basic attacks get the job done. It's just a shame that having to remember some unusual button-combinations during a fight meant that I simply didn't bother with them. As a result, I went through most of the game with my Focus Meter maxed out.

The Focus Meter is a bar that builds up as you dodge enemy attacks and performed well timed jumps. The fuller it is, the more of those extra-powerful attacks you can dole out.

The other aspect that annoyed me involved the game's attempt to show off Captain America's apparent Spider-Man-like acrobatic skills. Many locations will have you jumping and swinging your way across rafters and flag poles. While these are visually impressive, you pretty much just have to keep hitting the (X) button. If Cap is in the right position to jump to the next point, he will, and he will stick it. There is no way to fall, there is no way to miss. The most you can do to mess these sequences up is to get shot by some sniper as you make your way across the open area. While these could have made for some interesting platformer-styled events in the levels, all it resulted in was a quick-time like event to get you across rooms or caverns where all you had to hit was the (X) button.

There are a lot of good elements in Captain America: Super Soldier, but for every good thing, there is an equally mediocre one. The story is good and deep enough to make pretty much any fan of the film enjoy the game, but it also feels like it is trying to do just a bit too much. At most, Super Soldier is a rental, and if you don't attempt to pick up all of the extras scattered about the level, then you can easily beat it in a weekend of gameplay.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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