Knowing that the Captain America: The First Avenger movie is right around the corner, you're probably thinking that the game is another movie tie-in that takes advantage of the comic book superhero. Well, the game is technically timed to be released with the movie, but the developers (on all platforms) were given the license and freedom to come up with their own game. While none of the stories are based on the movie, the setting is similar and Chris Evans (face and voice) is in it.
At Sega's press event, I was able to get some hands-on time with three versions of the game: PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS. The 3DS version is coming and the HD versions will also be in 3D. They are all quite different from one another, but I'll have to admit, Captain America makes one great video game character. This super soldier is basically a human in peak condition, so it's not going to be as over the top as hurling lightning bolts or swinging from rooftops. If you like punching and kicking people in a variety of ways, as well as hurling a giant shield into things, then you'll like Captain America.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version is set in Baron Zemo's elaborate castle in Bavaria. The Hydra have taken over and are turning it into a base, and as the ever-so-patriotic Cap, you must dive in with your shield to find out more while sabotaging all the weapon setups and equipment you can find. While you comb your way through the corridors and seemingly endless number of rooms, you'll pick up dossiers, fight enemy officers, and leave behind a trail of destruction. Our demo took us through the castle grounds, giving us a good idea of the type of combat to expect. It's a third-person action game, but it's not a button masher. You'll have to carefully dispose of your enemies one by one, either with your shield or with your smooth acrobatic moves. Captain America can easily block anything with his shield, even while he's punching. He can use people as a meat shield and fire off their weapons, leap gracefully over their heads to grab them from behind, and much more. Most of your strategy is going to involve careful timing, from blocking to platforming. You'll see Cap's true acrobatic ability during jumping sequences, which are performed for you. The only thing you have to concern yourself with is the timing, so if you time your button presses perfectly, you'll move through the area faster. Below you can watch the demo to see what I mean.
The Wii version of the game takes an interesting approach. The style has more of a Saturday morning cartoon look, the tone is lighthearted, and the action is much more accessible. The HD versions have difficulty settings for older players, whereas the Wii version is aimed at younger players who just want to get into Cap's shoes and punch their way through. Between punching and shield tossing, there are puzzles to solve, as well as parts of the environment to interact with, to help you get where you need to go. Platforming in this version isn't time based, but there are indicators to tell you where to press A and where to jump. You can't fall off, and while some of you may think this is going to be too easy, it was nice to just jump onto various objects without looking around with the camera to figure out where to go next. The less time I spend running around lost means I get more time to punch guards, and I frankly prefer the latter. See below for a demo of the Wii game.
And finally, I made it to the DS version. This one is a 2D side-scrolling brawler with exploration that is similar to Shadow Complex but without too much backtracking. Here, the combat is much more fast paced and fluid than in its console counterparts. You can jump, run up walls, and virtually go anywhere and hit anything with your shield. Enemies still need to be taken down on a one-on-one basis, but you're faster than they are so it's fun to do. Some guards take a bit more effort to take down, but if you are quick, it shouldn't be too hard to dance around them. The game is fully voice acted with the same talent from the console versions. All the versions have a focus meter that fills when you attack or block, but in this version, once you're fully charged, you enter a super serum mode that gives you an entirely new move set. Collectibles are hidden throughout, and there are GIs to save, which will unlock more costumes for you to wear, like the costume in the movie or Isaiah Bradley's outfit.
Each version has something different to offer, and I enjoyed my time with all of them. I look forward to seeing how the final product turns out when the games are released in July.