Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is A Comic Book Brought To Life [Review]

Captain

Long-time gamers know that nine times out of ten getting excited about a movie tie-in will in end in disappointment. At the same time, the last few years have been pretty good when it comes to comic book titles making their way onto consoles, computers, and mobile devices.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Gameloft
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: $2.99

As Cult of Mac’s unabashed comic book and movie fan, I was intrigued to find out which camp Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Official Game fell into…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is A Comic Book Brought To Life [Review]

Gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who played Gameloft’s last Marvel movie adaptation, Thor: The Dark World. You control Captain America, who is backed up by a small handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, who you also get to control. What initially looks a bit like an endless runner turns out to be a hybrid of a tactical game and a Streets of Rage-style actioner, based on an original story written with the aid of Marvel.

The first thing to point out is just how pretty Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks. When you’re based on a comic book, you’d better look great and, fortunately, this game does exactly that. Utilizing cell-shaded graphics, visual sound effects (“SMASH” “KA-BOOM!”), and bright primary colors it looks and feels like a comic book come to life.

The top-down view employed by the game also means that you can only play the game in portrait orientation, which somehow adds to the rigid, comic panel feel of the game — although does make it slightly awkward for playing on the iPad.

There are two main types of control, consisting of tap to move and on-screen virtual buttons. Controls are responsive, button placement generally good, and animation fluid. Of the various attacks available to Cap and his S.H.I.E.L.D agents, Cap’s shield throw works especially well — with the swipe motion to throw it feeling very natural, and the ability to bounce it off obstacles and come hurtling back to you via the skulls of a couple of enemies proving immensely satisfying.

Some of the obstacles on screen (minor gripe: not quite enough) are interactive, and these prove a lot of fun and make fights more chaotic and inventive.

[The] shield-throwing action really is tremendous.

There are plenty of missions, enemies, and upgrades, and combined they give the game a lifespan well beyond a lot of movie tie-in games. Levels can be occasionally repetitive, though, and there are some strange UI fails — such as timed missions without the presence of a visible on-screen clock.

A bit like Thor: The Dark World there are also too many in-game currencies, which become unnecessarily confusing. IAPs are indeed present in Captain America: The Winter Soldier — which is a bit distressing for a premium game — but these are not forced upon you. In my experience of playing the game, most everything is earnable without the need to shell out more money, so IAPs are mainly the largely of the impatient.

There is one sticking point, however, and that is the game’s requirement for constant Internet connectivity. Designed to protect against piracy rather than for any in-game reason, this will likely put a portion of potential buyers off — but much like IAPs, does seem to be a growing part of many App Store games. If you’re going to be playing this game on the move, it’s well worth checking your data plan to find out whether you’ll suffer any adverse effects.

Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a lot of fun. The movie of the same title is being talked about as a potential “game changer” for the Marvel universe in terms of quality, and while the same can’t be said for this title in terms of its must-have status, it’s a definite step forward for Gameloft, and certainly won’t sully the good name of Marvel’s latest blockbuster.

And that shield-throwing action really is tremendous.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-31_at_08(2)Game Name: Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Official Game
The Good: Good blend of brawling action and fun strategy. Looks beautiful.
The Bad: IAP in a premium game and demands for constant Internet connection annoy. Levels can be repetitive.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for a fun Marvel Comics bruiser to get you hyped to see the movie of the same name, you won’t be disappointed.
Buy from: App Store

Cult of Mac rating: 3/5

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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