Captain America: Super Soldier
Posted on: August 9, 2011 by joelcouture.
Captain America was my first experience with a comic book character that I can remember. I used to get up in the morning and watch reruns of the old 60's cartoon, somehow being amazed by the really cheap animation. He's quietly been one of my favorite super heroes ever since, fighting crime with just a shield and his guts (The Super Soldier Serum wore off eventually. Did he quit being a super hero? Nope. Just hit the gym even harder). While the movie may have been unable to wow me, the prospect of being able to throw that mighty shield myself dragged my attention to where it doesn't normally wander: movie games.
Movie tie-ins are always, always cheap cash grabs, and this one is no exception...except for the fact that it is fun. Really fun. I can't tell you with a straight face that this game is going to top anyone's best list for 2011, but as far as shameless money grubbing goes, this game is surprisingly competent. Also, for the man who's been looking to play a decent Captain America game for years, this game got the shield down right.
Like Cold Fear to Resident Evil 4, this game is a poor man's Batman: Arkham Asylum (Except for, at 50$, it costs almost twice as much as your average used copy of the Batman game). The combat is pretty much ripped right out of that game. Your tend to get bombarded by bad guys in huge groups every few screens, rarely getting attacked one on one. For the first few punches, you have to target who you want, but after that, a tap and a flick of the stick will send Cap flying towards whoever happens to be the closest threat. The camera doesn't keep up as well as it did with Batman, which results in a lot of cheap hits, but it is a minor niggle most of the time.
Combat is further spiced up by a meter that fills as you chain successful hits and dodges. It's split into four bars, each of which lets you do a little something. The first bar lets you do an instant takedown attack, which is handy for a lot of the larger enemies that are well-defended. Two bars will also let you take over the weapons of the big guys for a while, usually meaning you will wipe the floor with whoever is around you. Once you hit four bars, you can go into Super Soldier mode and lay vicious beatdowns, but to be honest, I never used it. It takes too much effort to fill up four bars, when using one of the single bar attacks usually gets the job done.
A better use of four bars is your magnificent shield. Throwing this was designed with the same thing in mind as combat: ease and use. When you double tap the throw button, Cap will whip the shield at whatever is closest, hitting anywhere up to five guys and either stunning or taking them out. This can earn you a quick breather when things get hairy in a fight, and it's just plain cool to be hitting one guy while your shield bounces off noggins for a moment, eventually settling back onto your arm just in time to land the last punch. If you want to go all out, though, you can use up to four of those little saved power bars and do targeted shots on specific bad guys, all of which have the power of the instant takedown. It's a godsend when more than one huge guy is lumbering your way, and is just so, so satisfying to do.
But what about when you aren't fighting? Platforming seems to have been taken more from Prince of Persia than anything, but as if that game was designed by someone who was afraid that players were idiots. Like in Batman, you have a detective mode called 'Strategic View' that highlights anything that might be of interest (Except bad guys, but if they're around, they're usually crawling down your throat anyway). It also shows where any acrobatic jumps can be made, which means no looking around for where to go. The jumps themselves are pretty easy, in that the only way you can mess one up is if you haven't lowered the platform for yourself yet. The game just won't let you make a flip or leap if you aren't doing it the right way. If you've practised with other platforming games and can do it well, though, you can earn more power bars by doing the flips with perfect timing. It looks cool when you're doing it, but leaves a bit of a sour taste in that you barely have any meaningful input into the process. You couldn't mess these parts up if you tried.
After watching the pitiful fight with Red Skull in the movie, I was hoping to have an excellent fight with him. Again, the people in charge of Captain America thwarted me, not even allowing me to fight him. It was a drag, but I got to see a lot more of Arnim Zola in exchange, which was actually pretty cool. If you take the time to go through his film reels, you'll be able to see a logical progression to how he came to his final form, one which was nice to see since it never appeared in the movie. Other villains from the comics make appearances as bosses, like Baron Von Strucker and Madame Hydra (Viper). Both are pretty satisfying fights, with the one against Madame Hydra easily being the hardest in the game (Which I thought was going to be the opposite).
These weren't the latest gamut of brawler game bosses, either. There was no rifling around a room to find things that weakened an invincible creature. Just pure fisticuffs, and it was sweet. You may have had to knock a few bullets back at Madame Hydra with your shield, but by the end of it, your fists would see you through. Even against the robot Iron Cross, the coolest alternate WWII history robot ever (You can hear something that sounds like a lawnmower engine inside of him whenever he stalls. Did I mention that he stalls? It's so old-timey, and so much better than all of the laser crap they had for technology in the movie), you beat its metal noodle in with your bare hands.
Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying brawler, and a good way to kill a couple of nights of the summer. It's fun for the few hours it lasts, and the small amount of enemies it has doesn't really hinder it over its short run. With platforming thrown in to keep you from getting bored with any play type, the game didn't feel like it overstayed its welcome, either. It draws on some of the history of the character the movie couldn't (Even squeezing the Sleepers in there, but in a much less interesting capacity than the comics), and tells a story that fits just right with Cap.
And not that I normally care, but the voice acting had Cap down perfect. Hearing Chris Evans saying the stuff from this script made it come alive, and really fit in with the character. For a game, this might have only been okay, but as a Captain America experience, look no further.
Man, shield throwing rules.
Joel's Fast & Dirty Recommendations
Batman: Arkham Asylum (360/PS3) – If you like Cap, you will clearly love this one. With more stealth, free roam, and exploration options, Arkham Asylum is the better game, hands down. This is the definitive Batman experience, and if you don't like it, you probably don't like video games
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2/XB/GC) – Like platforming? Well, man up and play a platformer that doesn't hold your hand. It may show you the way, but actually getting through the jumps and flips is an exercise in timing and persistence. Well, except for the whole reversing time thing, but even that is something you can only do a little bit. The combat is infuriating, though.
Robert Downey Jr. And John Faverau On Iron Man 3 + Avengers
Posted on: June 13, 2011 by admin.
Slash Film has a neat little article about Robert Downey and John Faverau as they made a surprise appearence on Sunday at the Hero Complex Film Festival and talk about the upcoming Avengers movie and IM3. While there's nothing spolier worthy about the films, they do discuss Shane Black as the new IM director, the difficulties the third film will have in a post-Avengers world, and Downey's experiences so far with his new director and castmates. Check it out!
A No-Prize is a faux award given out by Marvel Comics to readers. Originally for those who spotted continuity errors in the comics, the current "No-Prizes" are given out for charitable works or other types of "meritorious service to the cause of Marveldom". As the No-Prize evolved, it was distinguished by its role in explaining away potential continuity errors. Rather than rewarding fans for simply identifying such errors, a No-Prize was only awarded when a reader successfully explained why the continuity error was not an error at all. (From Wikipedia).
The auction closes on May 24th, and is already up to almost $700, so if you want to get a bid in, do it soon!
Okay, so... I admit it. After watching the Thor movie last week (it's really good - in a few words: entertaining, as good as the Iron Man movies I'd say), I've decided that you all should look into reading Fear Itself.
Basically, because I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, I can say that I've become sorta sucked into the whole Marvel thing (well, the whole Thor thing, anyway) and, as such, considering much of Fear Itself revolves around Thor being manhandled by his Dad, Odin, dragged back to Asgard for his insubordination, and a whole bunch of hammers being given out to a whole buncha bad guys, this series has piqued my interest.
If this cover doesn't appeal to you at all, then don't get the book. The cover says it all (except...there's also Nazis).
All I will say about Fear Itself in this lil' quickie is that, by issue #2, things have heated up enough to keep me interested for the next 5 issues - it's only a 7-part with only 2 parts out by now, and it'll be very easy to find, pick it up : ).
A brand new comic written and illustrated by the amazingly talented Nate Simpson, Image's latest book, Non-Player, features what is honest-to-God some of the best art I've ever seen in a comic. Well, maybe THE prettiest art I've ever seen in a comic... look:
It's a little squished, but trust me, when you hold this $3 comic in your hands, it will melt your eyeballs.
The story, in a quick nutshell, is that the main character (skinny redhead lady) plays a full-virtual reality WOW-type game in between applying to jobs in the real world. The game world she plays in is an absolutely gorgeously rendered, lush, insanely detailed eye-gasm. The "real world" of Non-player is equally amazing. Simpson lets us glance a few panels of the outstanding-looking dirty future/"dystopia lite" super city that the girl lives in. And there was a bit of mention of "pre-incident tech". So, i'm guessing Simpson is alluding to some sort of apocalyptic turning point that happened in the real world which we'll likely find out about at a later date.
Just buy this book, it's gorgeous AND ACTUALLY interesting : )
Written by Ivan Brandon and drawn (painted?) by Nic Klein, Viking is an interesting 5-part series published by Image Comics beginning in 2009 (and as a complete very pretty hardcover, followed by a cheaper softcover). The core of the story follows two compatriots/criminals as they try to make their way (and, perhaps, their fortunes) through troubled times in the 9th century A.D. The writing is sharp enough, sometimes funny and at other times even somewhat poignant (when the series takes a more somber tone mid-way through). The story will hold your interest all the way through, no doubt, but what you may actually end up getting even more enjoyment out of in this series is the absolutely gorgeous art by Nic Klein. Hands down, this series has some of the absolute best interior (and cover!) art I've ever seen in a comic. Look:
yeah. And that is by no means even one of the best looking pages. The series is visually EXTREMELY rich. I pretty much never buy comics for the art (and even with this series, I only bought the very first issue based solely on the art), but if you're a fan of pretty comics or nice art in general, Viking is an amazing treat. But anyway...without picking apart every detail of a series that is relatively straight-forward and better experienced oneself, why not let the excited words of a fan (me, 2 years ago) addressed to the author sell you on this one: "I just wanted to write this short message of thanks for putting out this unique, well-written, and gorgeous book. And, although you're probably already tired of hearingNorthlanders comparisons, I think it is worth mentioning that, as a fan of both, I find Viking to be both more visually and thematically compelling than the "other" Viking book. Aside from the art in you comic, which is head and shoulders above anything else on the shelves this year, in my opinion, you seem to be determined (for whatever fortunate reason) to write characters who speak more like they are from the 9th century instead of modern characters who just happen to be stuck in the past (e.g. a line from a Northlanders issue wherein an invading Saxon proclaims that "this is supposed to be an invasion! like, with stabbing and swords and people dying and shit!", blech, this is difficult to read without shattering one's suspension of disbelief). Finally, I only compare the two because of their obvious related subject matter. I do enjoy both despite my complaints."
I wanted to give my two cents here on the ongoing massive Marvel crossover event, Fear Itself, from the viewpoint of an outsider, so that others in my position (who don't regularly read any Marvel series) can judge for themselves whether or not it'd be worth reading even though they (like me) don't know anything about current goings-on in the massive Marvel universe. To make this manageable for myself, I decided to only take a look at the main Fear Itself book, a seven issue series written by Matt Fraction (who does the bizarre and fun book, Casanova, as well as a bunch of Marvel books) and drawn by Stuart Immonen (he's worked on Thor, Superman, you name it). Sticking solely with this series and ignoring all of Marvel continuity as well as the stunning array of Fear Itself tie-ins (one separate prologue book as well as at least 31 different books e.g. Hulk, Uncanny X-Men, etc.), I came Fear Itself looking to answer one question: 'Can a giant crossover event like this be interesting/entertaining to someone who doesn't follow Marvel comics/is ignorant of their continuity?' - and the answer was: yes.
In short, although I'm sure this book would have infinitely more weight and power if I knew anything about ANYTHING that is/was happening in the Marvel universe, I found this hefty 56 or so, prettily illustrated comic, kind of fun to read. For me, it is like a little no-commitment window into the complex world of one of comics' "big two" companies. The central plot of this book, that the God of Fear (never heard of him) has come back from being sealed away somewhere to make everybody pay for some reason, is interesting enough and it is fun to see all these huge comic icons together in one book. So, without coming off as more excited that I really am about this book (that is to say, I'm in actuality only mildly interested in the series now, whereas I was previously aggressively disinterested), I can say that, if you're a total comics (or Marvel/DC comics) outsider like me, pick up that chunky Fear Itself #1 and check it out. Maybe you'll be entertained...also, Thor is involved in various ways. And he has a movie coming up soon.
Last word on Fear Itself: I found it odd and a bit funny that the scale of epic massive epicness unfolding in this book seemed to (in the 1st issue, at least) leave somewhat scant room for some characters to do or say anything. For instance, in a number of panels yousee all the super heroes amassed together, hangin' out, but because I don't know what is happening in each of their individual storylines, they end up just standing around silently like a pack of super-dinguses. BUT, maybe they're all doing cool stuff in their own books : )