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Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty

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Out of time

Product: Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty | Developer: Sarbakan | Publisher: Marvel Entertainment | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Format: Android | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | File size: 145.8 MB | Version: Europe
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty Android, thumbnail 1
Back when Captain America was created, he encapsulated much of what the world then found exciting: he was a hero with a super shield who beat up Nazis.

Now, Nazis - even the futuristic ones you're fighting in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty - are rather passe, while Americans, like captains, are widely seen as warlike bullies, over-sexed, over-paid, and over here, no matter where they are.

Still, a reboot is a reboot, so while Marvel brings its WWII hero to the big screen, Disney, together with developer Sarbakan, has come up with this gestured-based action platforming prequel.

Let it flow

Aside from his crazy Hungarian name, Mihaly Csíkszentmihalyi is best known for his concept of flow.

The concept is key to Sentinel of Liberty's gameplay. You control the Captain as he runs, slides, vaults, and wall-jumps through 24 action-packed 2.5D levels, performing combo-based combat against various evil henchmen as he goes.

The experience of flow is both the game's strength and its weakness. The reason for this is that once set running to the right (or occasionally left), the Captain keeps going. You can double tap to stop him, but it feels wrong.

This is a game where you're combining motions: running, then sliding under some pipework, jumping onto a ledge, then up onto a pole. Captain America automatically grabs these and keeps going, much like Tarzan.

Indeed, when you get it right, the game feels seamless and even acrobatic, despite the controls often being a simple case of gesturing up, up, left, jump, smash, smash, smash...

Stopped short

Of course, in order to perform moves successfully you need to know the levels and time your motions just right. Unfortunately, this means your first attempts will likely come to a juddering halt as you mess up a move, step on a mine, or a guard stuns or shoots you.

It's not that the game is difficult, at least in terms of forcing you to restart levels - there are plenty of checkpoints. Instead, as soon as the flow stops you feel like a failure. And thanks to a combination of level design and slightly laggy controls, Captain America grinds to a halt fairly frequently.

To some extent, there's been an attempt to overcome this, with secret documents dotted around each level in hard-to-reach locations that keep you exploring, and hopefully replaying levels, to find them all. They unlock additional art assets and the like, which may or may not spur your enthusiasm.

Hand to hand

Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is the combat controls. These are linked to general movement, with the Captain able to bash enemies with his shield if you swipe towards them, knock them into the air if you slide into them, smash down on them if already jumping, or perform various special attacks with his shield as you power it up.

However, it all feels a little contrived as the constant on-screen hints turn the game into one long tutorial, and it's not like the moves are complex either: typically a case of down up, right, right, or right, down, down, down.

Things get better as more environmental obstacles are placed in the levels, with moving lasers to either zap you or alarms to trigger more guards, plenty of mines, and troops who are invulnerable until you find and destroy their generators.

When fast play is combined with decent design, such as in the middle Factory levels, Sentinel of Liberty can feel as fluid as EA's Mirror's Edge or Mobigame's Perfect Cell, the two games it's most reminiscent of.

But at other times it suffers from a lack of sophistication, in terms of the graphics (why no shadows?), repetitive audio, and gameplay that's too often challenging for the wrong reasons. This is one captain who's unlikely to get a promotion.

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Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 19 July 2011
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty has strong core concept in terms of its gesture gameplay, but rough edges blunt its appeal
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