With truth, justice and the American flag emblazoned over his uniform, Captain America is back in another *groans* movie tie-in from SEGA. After the abysmal and thoroughly mind numbing experiences of the recent movie adaptation of Thor and with the gaming world at large skeptical of movie to game adaptions (with good cause), I traversed this terrain with little hope and emerged with maybe a little less.
The character of Captain America was born in a time and place of turmoil and fear, and the release of yet another movie tie-in has emulated these fears in myself and most likely you, the gaming community. In a time of imminent and active war, good old patriotic ‘Cap played to the a public’s desire for a uniforming patriotic lifestyle - providing a triumphant hero standing in the face of adversity against the Nazi menace. These days Cap has as little relevance to our society as say, a door to door Hoover salesman, yet mirroring the film’s attempt at making this character relevant, SEGA has tried to modernise this obvious cash-cow by emulating elements from other, more successful big-hitting titles, specifically Arkham Asylum.
Captain America’s shameless imitation of Arkham can be seen in almost all aspects of gameplay, most importantly (and unfortunately) in Cap’s combat system. The act of requiring accurately timed button pushing to create a cohesive, flowing combat system evident in Arkham has been dishonourably discharged, resulting in a clunky interpretation, allowing an easy mashing of the buttons to perform signature Cap moves and beat onslaughts of generic Nazi combatants, of which there are about four varieties (some that even only require a single hit to incapacitate).
As there is no inclusion of a true combo counting system, the only incentive is to gain XP multipliers allowing for an upgrade of your whopping nine (that’s right only nine, which are all variations of three) combat upgrades.
The remaining gameplay quickly becomes as tedious as combat. It tends to follow formulaic methods of battling groups of foes then searching through a large-ish
area to perform some mundane task, such as finding an exit or hot-wiring something, followed by another group of baddies to battle ad-nauseam.
The game yearns and encourages you to explore the environments, yet offers little incentive due to its bland textures and repetitive design. With a lack of enemies for extended periods throughout, the game becomes a lonely chore and anything but the combat heavy fight-fest it should be.
Whilst lacking in texture environments, the shield on Caps back looks amazing and as an added bonus, his classic costume, available via DLC, looks great (and at least offers more nostalgic reasons to play). But honestly the rest of the game is a mixed bag. Cut-scenes consistently drop in frame-rate and explosions look second-rate. Whilst some epic set-pieces and scripted sequences give you momentary awesome, the graphics fail to truly realise the grandeur of the situation.
Aside from punching and occasionally whacking the shit out of the off Kraut with his shield, Cap likes to partake in other exciting adventures such as a): collecting dossiers (woah, woah, woah slow down there egg head), b): collecting strange Nazi memorabilia. c): collecting Nazi film canisters and finally d): collecting ceramic eggs (and falcons and super rare roosters), which I can only assume is to satiate his $1500 a day Fabergé egg eating habit.
The addition of collecting random memorabilia is rendered moot when you can find at least five (highly confidential) items that are simply lying in plain view, and in an open courtyard no less. As with several other elements, they appear tacked-on because they were deemed a “staple” in games today.
Similarly, the hacking mechanic required to access certain areas is completely arbitrary. It’s as simple as moving two collections of numerals and letters around so that the only two matching are overlapping. There’s not always a time limit and if there is you can just exit and start again with no detriment.
Finally, the enemy AI is similar to that of a lobotomy patient with a viewing angle of about 25% directly ahead. They fail to act on most occasions to anything around them unless you physically attack them, while larger enemies and bosses repeat attacks and don’t change things up meaning, after you’ve beaten one, you’ve essentially beaten them all. At one point I blew up a large fuel tank and a jeep at a distance of approx two-metres yet the Nazi drones around the corner continued to tinker away at what looks like changing a wheel and patrolling needlessly, none-the-wiser of my poor attempt at sabotage that wasn’t even quality enough to turn heads (or skulls for that matter).
It’s not breaking any new ground, nor is it injecting any Super Soldier-powered capabilities into the unfortunate world of movie-game tie-ins, and at a point when it had a chance to redeem itself at an opportunity-rich ending, the game just drags through the trenches, eventually rising its ugly head as nothing more than a gigantic disappointment. (Spoiler: you end up fighting the same person three times with no change to their combat styles or patterns.)
There isn’t even an opportunity to crack some skulls, as the Red Skull himself plays a brief scripted cameo, giving way to other lacklustre character steroetypes to flesh out the basic “evil guys take over the world” style storyline.
As the patriotic war machine of propaganda that Captain America is, America would be ashamed at this and SEGA should be ashamed.