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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone, Windows Phone

All American reject

Product: Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Developer: Gameloft | Format: iPad | Genre: Action, Fighting, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Captain America: The Winter Soldier iPad, thumbnail 1
Not American and not a comic book fan? Then the chances are you didn't give two hoots about Captain America prior to his 2011 cinematic renaissance.

The steroid-pumped boyscout was designed for an era when heroes were expected to be high of moral fortitude and moderate of power, shot through with a primary-coloured streak of nationalistic fervour.

Thanks to the current Marvel Avengers series that's dominated the box office for the past six years, though, even the shield-slinging square gets international bums on seats.

With Captain America: The Winter Soldier fresh out and winning decent reviews, that looks unlikely to change any time soon. Unfortunately, nor does the trend for dull mobile game tie-ins.

S.H.I.E.L.D. tosser

Where the first Cap film tie-in, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty took the form of a mediocre endless-runner (think Mirror's Edge with Nazi-bashing), this one's a mediocre action RPG.

It plays rather like last year's deathly dull Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game. You control the main hero, tapping where you want him to go through tightly funnelled levels, and who you want to auto-attack. There are direct virtual controls, too, but they're not necessary.

You also get to launch ranged attacks, making use of Cap's signature shield-tossing ability to damage multiple targets. This swipe-initiated attack is chiefly useful for keeping dangerous flame-spouters at bay and lowering opposing riot shields for your wing-men to exploit.

Yes, also like the last Thor tie-in, you have to drag along a handful of anonymous allies - this time in the shape of bland S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives. Well, I say that. They actually look like they escaped from another Gameloft game, N.O.V.A., with their oddly futuristic armour.

Nevertheless, it's all been rendered in a pleasantly vibrant comic book style.

Grunt work

The game's focus on these grunts seems a little odd. It's difficult to care about these anonymous foot soldiers, who come in different guises such as sniper and heavy, each with their own projectile attacks and special abilities.

They provide additional firepower, sure, but ploughing money into powering them up in between levels and monitoring their health levels feels more like babysitting than teamwork or strategic marshalling. It's a chore.

IAPs explained
The game's premium currency is Credits. You can buy these in packs starting from £1.49 for 50, and going up to £34.99 for 2000.

These can then be spent on things like coins (which pay for consumables and upgrades) and lottery chips for the game's roulette wheel.

Meanwhile, the whole RPG-style gem equipping system, which can be applied to Cap himself as well as the grunts, is opaque, clunky, and simply not much fun to tinker with.

On the plus side the grunts offer special abilities in the field that can be quite fun to execute - particularly the heavy grunt's ability to blow up abandoned cars and other explosive objects. But then, this could just have easily been realised with a Cap grenade toss, or via a more recognisable ally such as the Black Widow.

Comic timing

Speaking of which, the between-level story scenes are clunky facsimiles of their movie counterparts - both in terms of the dialogue and the physical likenesses, the latter of which seems to have been deliberately fudged slightly (especially in the case of Nick Fury and Black Widow).

Meanwhile, the online multiplayer mode is laughably basic. It essentially involves matching your team against another player's in a game of dice. There's no action nor even strategy beyond being able to set your team to defensive or offensive stances - and it's unclear what effect that has either way.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a pleasant enough comic book style to it, but like its star it's a tiresomely bland, staid experience that doesn't hit as hard as it looks like it should.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 1 April 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a predictably uninspired action RPG with too little strategic scope and a half-hearted multiplayer element tacked on
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