Heading into the weekend, Captain America : The First Avenger is still hailing in the top 5 of the US Box Office charts and so I figured this would be a good time to review Marvel Entertainment’s Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty. The game, while based on the same popular Captain America Marvel superhero, follows a completely separate storyline penned especially for the game, so no need to worry about movie spoilers. The adventure takes place during WWII and you must attempt to go behind enemy lines to rescue some commandos who’ve fallen behind enemy lines as well as stop Red Skull and HYDRA forces from building super weapons. Armed only with an unbreakable shield, an arsenal of fighting moves and Super Soldier Serum pumping through his veins, Steve Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) heads out on a suicide mission.
It is impossible to play Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty and not immediately start making parallels to EA’s level-based running/Parkour platformer, Mirror’s Edge. The game play is so very similar, that I wonder if the pitch went something like this: “Imagine if we took EA’s Mirror’s Edge game and replaced Faith with Captain America, but we’ll give him a lot more fighting moves, you know because he’s a bad-ass super soldier. Then instead of hidden briefcases, we’ll have…um…folders!” While of course I’m being sarcastic, EA’s Mirror’s Edge game obviously influenced the design decisions of Sentinel of Liberty. I will admit however, that it was this similarity of the gameplay which actually drew me to the Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty in the first place. Despite it’s brevity, I really enjoyed EA’s Mirror’s Edge release for iOS, so if there was a way I could extend that experience through a similar, but different title, hey I’m all over that!
The breadth of the combo attacks that you build up as you progress through the Sentinel of Liberty’s levels is actually quite nice and are one of the highlights of the game, along with the superb graphics. These combo moves are executed through a series of swiping gestures which flow nicely and feel satisfyingly, on-screen combo prompt get old pretty quickly…I can remember the moves. Where the game falls flat, is when it comes to the difficulty. Things that shouldn’t be difficult, ARE and things that are difficult, SHOULDN’T BE. For instance, you’ll have lots of trouble stopping Captain America once he starts running. Sometimes it felt like he was stuck in drive and the best you hope for was to switch directions. Yo can stop him by running into something or double-tapping, but most of the time you’ll find yourself running in circles.
Overwhelmingly my biggest gripe about the entire game, is that it is just WAY TOO EASY! As it stands now, you can take down pretty much any enemy soldier without breaking a sweat or worrying about any of the other bad guys on the screen attacking you while you do so. You can be completely out of firing range and start pulling off your combo by doing a slide into frame or throw your shield to stun the bad guy and defeat him before he even has a chance to get a shot off or a hit in edgewise. Yop don’t even need to remember the combo moves, because as soon as you slide in, it goes into slow motion and they are displayed on the screen for you in tutorial-like fashion (for the duration of the entire game!). I would love to see a difficulty setting option added to make the game more challenging.
As I mentioned, the art team did a very nice job with the backdrops, cut scenes and artwork for the game which all looked stunning on my iPhone 4’s retina display. Even after one update to address the issue, there is still quite a bit of stuttering and choppiness, the play back isn’t nearly as smooth as it should be. Rounding out the features are a number of extras which are unlocked by finding the five hidden folders within each level. These include different iterations of Captain America’s costume for your character to wear in-game and some classic Marvel Captain America comic book cover art (which unfortunately is much too tiny to appreciate on the iPhone screen). There are Game Center leaderboards and achievements as well.
Traditionally movie tie-in games are cursed to a life of mediocrity and unfortunately despite initial signs to the contrary, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty couldn’t quite overcome that stigma. This is a case of squandered potential, as Captain America STILL has all the makings of a truly great iOS title, but it just doesn’t quite get where it needed to go, mostly due to the performance issues and its complete lack of difficulty. At its original price of $4.99 there was really no way I could recommend it, but at the current bargain sale price of 99¢ I think younger kids or people that just like to jump around and kick and punch like a superhero with little by way of resistance would find it entertaining. However, any true gamer will find the experience much too easy and a bit unsatisfying. The game is certainly redeemable and with a bit of tweaking to dramatically increase the difficulty and smooth out the performance glitches this could be a very entertaining and must have title, so if you are a betting man, grab it now for 99¢ and have faith that an update will be released.