Next Level Games offers Batman America
Quick info: My expectation for this game was nonexistent until about 2 weeks ago when I watched a 15 minute demo. I thought the game looked better than most movie tie-ins and the combat (no guns) looked fresh if not somewhat familiar. I never read any of the Captain America comics, but understood the premise and knew of the characters such as Red Skull, and Iron Cross.
Is there a tougher developer assignment in the video game industry today than accepting a job to create a game to coincide with a movies release date, work within a minimal budget, and meet gamers high expectations? Next Level games took on that challenge with this week’s release of Captain America Super Soldier and while somewhat successfully copying popular mechanics from games such as Batman AA , and Prince of Persia it’s still difficult to recommend to everyone and will undoubtedly be thrown into the ever growing pile of mediocre movie tie in games.
Unlike the upcoming movie, this is not an origin story. If you haven’t brushed up on your Captain America/ Hydra history this may be a good time because the game quickly jumps you right into the shoes and, more importantly, the shield of a seasoned Captain America (voiced by the movies star Chris Evans). Played in a 3 person perspective, the game opens the story nicely with a trench warfare scenario where you will learn your mission and the best part of the game, killing Nazi’s. If you played Batman AA the combat will seem really familiar. It’s simply attack, counter, defend. It so mirrors the mechanics of Batman AA that it even does the slow motion effect, and zoom in on power hits to enemies. Killing enemies will also fill a focus meter that will let you deal deathly one hit kills, or fill the meter completely and you can enter super solider mode which makes you invincible for a time.
The shield, your main crowd control weapon, looks fantastic with a shiny, hard, metallic finish with noticeable scratches and marks from combat. Simply it looks bad ass. With the shield you can knock down enemies by throwing, running through enemies or slamming the shield into the ground. You can also use the shield for defense and deflect bullets back at shooters. All of the combat is a lot of fun and there are a total of 9 upgrades available which provide additional counter strength and shield attacks. These upgrades are fine but not necessary due to the easy game play.
Captain America also channels the use of Batman’s detective vision. In this mode which is activated on the D-pad, you are able to see walls that can be smashed, ledges to climb, poles to swing and collectables. While jumping and climbing there is no fear of falling as the game holds your hand as you simply press the A button. These mechanics are done well and the animations of climbing and jumping are good but these moments are limited and not used to their full potential. A few more of these scenarios would have helped balanced the game play from the ever constant combat.
Enemy types is one comparison I wish Batman AA could be used but Captain America only has a few formidable foes and bosses that you will encounter all of whom are forgettable. These enemies include snipers, grunts with electrical batons, armored, super and elite solders. They are all mere puching bags as you will easily be able to dispose of even the largest groups with minimal resistance. You will battle Iron Cross, Lady Hydra, and other known characters from the Captain America universe, but If you are thinking Red Skull is the main enemy in this game think again as he merely makes only a brief cameo.
I am not a proponent of new consoles, but there is defiantly a noticeably growing large gap in graphics between AAA titles and the lesser budgeted games. Having recently finished Crysis 2, which in my opinion is the new high standard, Captain America looks old. This however does not make or break a game for me. It still has solid character models and animation with a lot of common, well done urban, and underground environments. If you happened to play 2009’s Wolfenstein the look and feel are very comparable. The games frame rate is solid, and I never had any clipping, or freezing issues.
Speaking of Wolfenstein I have to address one of the worst and annoying decisions by Next Level games. In order to level up your character with upgrades, receive story related items, or challenges you have to pick up files which are literally planted all over the place. You can’t go 2 feet without having to hit B to pick up a file worth 10, 20, or 50 points and you need a total of 25,000 points to unlock everything. You also collect points by defeating enemies but it will not be enough points in the end. Why the Wolfenstein reference? It may be best known for some of the most annoying collectable achievements ever.
WTF? There is not one soldier who carries an MP40 in the game. This is Germany WWII, right?
The look of Captain America and the shield make you feel like a Super Hero.
Similar combat to Batman AA
Not having to use a gun in an action game.
Attainable S rank
Captain America speech near the end
My 2 cents:
In Batman AA it was not uncommon to be surrounded by 10-20 enemies at a time. In Captain America the most enemies you may be matched against is maybe 7-8 which is simply nullified with a throw of the shield especially late in the game. Including additional enemies would make for better use of all available attacks and make you feel more like a super hero.
Instead of dropping papers all over the place to pick up, why not take the time to utilize more platforming, and detective vision for hidden items for upgrades.
Im not a Captain America expert, but I thought one of his best know assets was a motorcycle?
Though it may not be a graphical powerhouse or include a lot of content, Captain America Super Soldier offers a fresh new character, solid, not perfect video game. Taking some of the best elements of combat and platforming from some iconic game titles, Captain America can be that Batman itch you have wanted to scratch, or just another movie game tie in you will want to avoid.
Total game play including achievements, and challenges 10-12 hours on Normal difficulty.