Developer: High Voltage
Film tie-ins usually suck, it's true. But the 3DS version of Captain America: Super Soldier has had three or four months or so longer than its relatives to iron out kinks. Supposedly.
Brendan already reviewed this game's larger console cousin earlier this year and found it to be a pretty enjoyable experience: a flawed but perfectly playable hero simulator that allowed you to wield the shield in style, with a number of collectables and little Zola Missions to engage in amongst the linear levels and straightforward action to keep things interesting.
This portable version doesn't do much to differ from it's HD buddies, apart from look worse, but that's to be expected. Truth be told, the visuals aren't horrible, although the first level that literally sees you entrenched and running down Nazis does a pretty good job at trying to persuade you otherwise. The game actually perks up quite nicely visually and the 3D effects, whilst not particularly essential, do add the usual pleasant sense of depth to proceedings.
This being a film tie-in, one might expect the events of the game to mirror those of the movie, but instead of lazily aping things on the silver screen, it provides a narrative that runs parallel. As with the other versions, this one goes about things detailing the good Captain's attempts to help capture a Bavarian fortress where the nefarious Arnim Zola is helping Red Skull try and turn his own minions into super soldiers. Zola provides the main antagonist focus, especially when his robots arrive on the scene.
The Batman-lite combat system is a little sluggish on the 3DS and absurdly easy to use too. Probably the most family friendly version, this one won't exactly tax regular action gamers, although no doubt it will prove a treat for the younger generation for whom the 3DS still (somehow) holds some novelty. The combat is pleasant enough, although occasionally the Captain will kick butt with a finisher accompanied by a flourish of stars and stripes and you'll wonder exactly what you did to create that as everything is mapped to a single button, save for counters. Additionally, the field of combat that allows Mr. America to deal with multiple assailants does seem to be rather large and it's not uncommon to watch the blue suited patriot glide on one leg across to his next opponent or slide up, elbow primed, as if the floor was covered in lard.
Thankfully, the Cap's trusty shield adds a bit of diversity to things, and the game encourages you to use it often for puzzling solving, aggressive bomb disarmament, bullet deflection and good old assault and battery. A tap of the 'Y' button fires it from the hip, as it were, with either the 'L' bumper of touch screen used to prime it while you paint targets, releasing pressure allowing you to fire. The best use of the console, though, arises from scrabbling at the touch screen to direct deflected bullets at enemy soldiers, explosive barrels and other hazardous items.
Combat forms the backbone of the game, apart from some ridiculously simple, assisted platforming, but in both cases the camera will frustrate intensely. The lack of a second stick, and considering that the bumpers aren't used to control the camera in this instance, means that you'll often be fighting goons that you can't see and there's nothing you can really do about it.
Aside from jumping and punching, I touched on a few little distractions earlier. The Zola Challenges - beat up these guys, snap up these tokens, hit these targets - will net you stars, as will acting like Godzilla or a frustrated wife of a Mad Man and breaking all of the furniture. You can also get them by rescuing the POWs and taking out the Red Skull bombs to be found in each level. Max out your star bar and you'll level up, gaining new abilities such as combo extenders, new finishers, or a sixth sense that leads you treasure and hidden areas.
As superheroes go, Captain America is hardly the most thrilling, but he gets the job done. The same can be said of his movie tie-in: serviceable, inoffensive and relatively enjoyable. On the 3DS it can't really provide any of the visual thrills of its HD relatives, and it does seem a little sluggish by comparison, but if you've got a youngster with a 3DS, this will no doubt distract them for a little while.
- Pretty good story
- Combat system still works pretty well on 3DS
- Shield adds some diversity to action
- Graphics can be murky
- Camera will make you howl with rage
- Won't pose much of a challenge to anyone over the age of 11
The Short Version: Captain America: Super Soldier is a perfectly solid film tie-in for the 3DS, that's the bottom line, but it's a fairly sad state of affairs when this becomes something we have to recommend...out of sheer thanks that it exists. Yes, there's a game. On the 3DS. And it isn't a mess or a port of a decade-old game. It's a little on the short side if you breeze through the action, and it's pretty easy, but that's no bad thing, really.