We all know the unwritten (and written) rule: video games based on movies are terrible. It’s like gravity or taxes; people just accept and move on. The problem with this is that reviewers tend to have opinions for such video games before ever even taking out the disk. Still, my love for Captain America is blind, so when I discovered that there was a Captain America: Super Soldier video game that featured the voice talents of Chris Evans and Haley Atwell (and that was only $18.99 used at GameStop), I bought it without even reading the back. I checked out the reviews and saw pretty much what I expected. The average rating was 5.5/10, but I decided to judge for myself.
Here’s the good news: you now have a game that, if you heard of it, you probably dismissed that is, in fact, awesome and fun and should be played immediately, especially if you’re a Captain America: The Winter Soldier fan (of course you are). In fact, in an interview, Chris Evans said that he really enjoyed the game himself and pushed for the Winter Soldier Cap to be more like the Super Soldier video game Cap.
“I love [the Captain America: Super Soldier video game]. And I don’t like video games. And I love it because I love the way Cap moves, he moves so well and he just beats ass. It’s like, that’s how this guy needs to be moving. This isn’t just the guy who’s been given the ability of speed and power, he’s been training. He’s been put through… he’s got the frame of mind to absorb this information, so you can only assume with training and his ability, the guy should really be dangerous. And we should show that. It’s not just, “Take Jason Bourne and make him” you know. If Jason Bourne can do it, Cap should be flying through these things. So we had a bit of fun turning up his power, turning up his speed. So the fights are a lot more grisly and impactful, and in my opinion, cooler. . . . . . Shield use and acrobatics, too. I mean, he was flipping off things and spinning and jumping and using his environment, it wasn’t just punch, punch, kick, kick. That’s fine but this has to be more than The Bourne Supremacy.” –Chris Evans
So what exactly does that mean? That kick@$$ Captain America we all love so much in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? We have this video game to thank for it. Captain America: Super Soldier was released days before The First Avenger was released and during the Batman: Arkham Asylum frenzy. The first thing you’ll notice is that the controls feel a lot like Arkham Asylum. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it’s easy to pick up the controller and play if you’ve played any of the hit Arkham games. It’s a curse because, for some reason, every video game reviewer felt like the similarity in control schemes meant that Super Soldier had to be just as good, if not better, than Arkham Asylum.
I’ll be frank: Super Soldier is not Arkham Asylum. It’s not game-changing or revolutionary. It is, however, fun as hell. As Cap you get to run around, bash people in the face, throw your shield at enemies, and perform all sorts of cool acrobatics. Let’s take a closer look at this overlooked gem and see what you missed and what you can look forward to.
The Voice Acting
As I mentioned up there, the voice acting on this game is provided by the original First Avenger movie cast. Combine that with the excellent graphics, and this really feels like a Marvel film shot over-the-shoulder. The on-screen actors for Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), “Dum Dum” Dugan (Neal McDonough), Falsworth (JJ Feild) and (of course) Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) provide their voice for their characters! All of them deliver their voice-over lines with the same convincing oomph that their film acting has. Howard Stark, Arnim Zola, and Red Skull are in the game too…but voiced by other amazing actors. Seriously, it’s excellent playing this and hearing Chris Evans’ voice as Cap talks to himself. It’s almost like a Captain America-themed film noir.
This game was a tie-in with the First Avenger film, but it’s a completely different story. This movie focuses much more on the Howling Commandos and villain Arnim Zola. In the game, HYDRA is trying to create its own army of super soldiers, and among those kidnapped is Cap’s friend and fellow Howling Commando Falsworth. While Red Skull is briefly in the game (he launches explosives at you while you fight a boss), the real villain is Zola, complete with his Steampunk-ish mech suit. You fight everywhere from the front lines as you help a US battalion under attack to a robot guard-patrolled maze as you try to infiltrate Red Skull’s headquarters.
While the game starts on the front lines for a “tutorial” level, the main story takes place inside HYDRA’s castle. After a cool cutscene that shows Cap leaping from a plain and dropping through a hole in the castle’s stone ceiling, you’re given your first objective and the fun begins. You can choose to sneak up on enemies, which results in cool moves like tapping the enemy on the shoulder then punching him when he turns around, or you can run in flinging your shield and taking everyone out in a blaze of glory. You can even sneak up behind the mech-wearing HYDRA soldiers, use them as a human shield, and make them shoot their comrades with their giant guns.
Because The Avengers was quickly approaching, Cap didn’t get to stay in his element for very long. At the end of the First Avenger film, Cap is frozen, not to be discovered until present day. Many fans were bummed at the lack of “classic” Cap action. Well, be disappointed no more; here’s a whole adventure taking place during the 40s. Acrobatics This is where the game really stands out, and it’s the reason Chris Evans likes it so much. In Super Soldier, Cap isn’t just a tough beat-em-up kind of guy; he’s also very acrobatic. To get from place to place you’ll have to jump, spin, swing, and dangle from poles, pipes, walls, and all sorts of environmental objects. A hidden item may appear in plain site but require the player to go across the room and leap from pipe to pipe over cars and machinery to reach it. The game has a timing system that rewards the player for pressing the “leap” button in time with Cap’s moves.
To sum up, even though this has the First Avenger cast voicing the characters, and even though the game was technically a tie-in with the movie, I would hardly call this a movie video game. It breaks pretty much every “movie video game” rule. After all, if it was used as the standard for Cap’s fighting style in The Winter Soldier then it can’t be that bad, right? Have you played Captain America: Super Soldier, or did you dismiss it because “video games based on movies suck”? Will you give it a try???