Swipe your way to victory and freedom with this fun platforming brawler.
Movie cash-ins are not an uncommon site on the App Store. Generally these come in the form of some sort of “companion app” that provides artwork, images, or other bits and pieces of the movie to the user. Other times, more effort is spent to create an actual game that’s based on the movie. Much like their console counterparts, these iOS titles usually fail to impress or entertain (See Thor). Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty feels like a lot of things, but a quick movie cash-in is not one of them.
The first feeling you get when you start playing Captain America is that of Déjà vu. More specifically, you feel like you’re playing a patriotic version of Mirror’s Edge. It’s no lie; old Cap seems to have played his fair share of the game during his off time, because Sentinel of Liberty plays almost exactly like the iOS version of Mirror’s Edge that came out
last year. You swipe left or right and the Captain starts running continuously until you double tap the screen to stop him. You swipe to jump, slide, and more importantly, to beat the crap out of Hydra’s goons.
While CA: SoL may seem like a Mirror’s Edge clone, I found that it feels more like a combination of Mirror’s Edge, Shadow Complex (XBLA), and Fruit Ninja. The game focuses a lot more on combat than Mirror’s Edge does, and this is done through various combos that are pulled off by swiping in different directions as you approach enemies. All of these moves put you into a sweet slo-mo combat mode that lets you pummel the enemies into submission. Even though it gets a bit repetitive towards the end of the game, pulling off multiple combos on enemies is extremely satisfying, especially when you can chain them with parkour moves to increase your score and combo meter. My only complaint about the combat is the way you can accidentally get locked into it. Sometimes I wanted to jump over an enemy instead of fight, but the Cap had other plans.He would end up standing in front of his foes, waiting for an apology for their crimes against Uncle Sam, or a punch to the face… whichever came first.
As you slide, jump, kick, and slam your way through each level, you build up your power meter, represented by Cap’s ever-recognizable shield on the bottom left of the screen. By tapping the shield, Cap will launch it at the nearest enemy or destructible object. This is great for stunning enemies, blasting through walls, or blowing up strategically placed explosive barrels. Once your power meter is full, you can unleash one of two special attacks. One of them throws you into slow motion, letting you choose up to four targets that will meet their demise at the edge of your shield. When you first learn this ability, you can only take down one target at a time. As you progress through the game, you unlock higher levels for your special abilities that increase their effectiveness.
The storyline, while not exactly immersive, works well enough to move the game along. By the end, I immediately recognized where this game leaves off and future storylines pick up down the road, which was cool. I really enjoyed the motion comic panels that accent the story from time to time. It’s a shame that neither these or the pre-mission briefings were voiced. In fact, the only voice work in the game is that of Cap himself as you play. As you progress through the story you’ll meet a new enemy or two, new traps and gimmicks, and even a couple unexpectedly fun boss battles.
Sentinel of Liberty boasts some solid visuals on the iPad and iPhone, and some good animation to boot. The Captain looks great, though aside from the title screen I didn’t see any resemblance to the upcoming movie’s Chris Evans. There are only three environments in the game, and two of them resemble boring warehouses throughout most of their eight levels. This is a shame, as the final set of levels, which takes place on Red Skull’s airship, doesn’t feel any different than the second set of levels that take place in Red Skull’s base. The original music for the game becomes repetitive, but not nearly repetitive as the phrases the Cap throws out every 5 seconds in response to practically every action you perform. Jump onto a ledge, and you get “I’ll take the high road!” Charge through an enemy with your shield and he’ll exclaim “Coming through!” At first some of these phrases are endearing, but after hearing them 100 times each, they get a bit grating to say the least.
If the voices start annoying you, no worries! Sentinel of Liberty only took me about 3-4 hours to complete, with just a couple hidden intelligence folders left to collect in a few of the levels. There isn’t a way to change difficulty, but there are plenty of achievements to test your skills on, and online leaderboards for the points you earn. I wish that there was a stat for how long it takes to complete each level, but that would defeat the purpose of the fun combat. Each level contains five of the above-mentioned intel folders. As you collect these you unlock new suits for the Cap to wear in-game, as well as some sweet classic Captain America comic book covers. The only problem is, the comic books are not very large on an iPad, and are practically postage stamp-
sized on the iPhone. Worst of all, there’s absolutely no way to zoom in or display the covers in full screen. Hopefully this is something that will be tacked-on in a future update, as I’m sure comic book fans will appreciate it.
Despite some minor complaints here and there, I had a great time playing through Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty on my iPad 2. To my surprise, I found the game easer to play (and ultimately more enjoyable) on my iPhone 4 after I beat the iPad version due to the controls being more easily accessible on the smaller screen. Luckily, the game is available as a universal app, meaning you can download and play it on any compatible iOS device. I imagine that people may complain about the $4.99/£2.99 pricetag, but I would disagree. If you’re thinking of buying a Captain America game, I imagine that you’re probably also planning on seeing the movie… for $10-15… for two hours. Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Good.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty takes the solid gameplay mechanics of Mirror’s Edge and throws in satisfying combat, a bunch of unlockable items, a sweet motion comic storyline, and a fun combo/power move system. You get a real feeling of power as you take control of the American super-soldier and pummel your way through your enemies in the name of freedom. While there are certainly minor annoyances/glitches here and there, they shouldn’t stand in the way of a good time with your friendly neighborhood, trash can lid-wielding superhero. It’s good to know that movie tie-ins don’t all have to suck, and that there will always be a man in blue spandex to fling his disc of justice at any foreigner who stands in the way of sweet-smelling freedom. God bless America.