Iron Man Review
developer: Secret Level
|ESRB rating: T
release date: May 02, 08
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Characters from the rich and ever-popular Marvel universe are still an appealing target for Hollywood movie makers. The most recent Marvel superhero that made it to the big screen (just in time to clash with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV) is none other than Iron Man.
Now, I really enjoyed the comic series and have a few issues still neatly tucked in my modest comic book collection. For that matter, I must say I was really looking forward to both the movie and the game. I didn't get a chance to check out the recently-released flick, although from what I hear, it did okay both in the eyes of critics and at the box office.
The video game is loosely based on the movie itself, which means you step into the iron boots of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark. Not your average billionaire, mind you. This one is a consummate playboy and a genius inventor. Tony gets captured and is forced to create a devastating weapon. Using his wits and ingenuity, he makes a powerful suit of armor in an effort to escape. Eventually, he realizes that the power he created could be used to protect the world. Thus Iron Man was born.
As experienced gamers are well aware of by now, most video games that spawn out of successful Hollywood flicks usually end up being technically underdeveloped and often very disappointing in the gameplay department. Regardless, I've approached Iron Man with a lot of optimism, having heard all the promises made by the development team and being a fan of the comic book series.
Upon completing the first three missions, I already felt discouraged by a number of factors. The game quickly and efficiently introduces you to the capability of Iron Man's suit. That counts for very little, since you'll spend most of your time just firing one, maybe two weapons. What's really going to get on your nerves is the awkward controls and camera movement. It takes a lot of getting used to and you may find yourself cursing at the game more often than just flying around with ease. To avoid the erratic camera, gamers are bound to resort to hovering, instead of flying at high speed, using Iron Man's afterburners and such. It also looks a bit silly when you witness the mighty Iron Man floating in mid-air, trying to aim, as the enemy launches an infinite amount of missiles straight at him. Nauseatingly enough, in order to keep your character steady in flight, you must press the 'LT' halfway, which isn't very easy, especially when you need to aim quickly and fire at swarms of oncoming enemies at the same time. Funny thing is, most of the time hovering like this is the only way you can ever hope to achieve accuracy when shooting at foes (which at times, makes the whole flying thing seem a bit pointless). As a result, the game becomes very tedious, very fast.
The same thing can be said about the unimaginative level design. Having the freedom to survey a large portion of the environment is great and all, but pretty soon you'll notice most of the sections in the game are very repetitive. Also, the objectives in this game rarely vary. You usually have a set of primary and secondary targets to take out, sometimes separately, sometimes simultaneously. Apart from the few tricks of the main character, the combat is annoyingly simplistic overall. You do get to fight against occasional bosses, but even then the game doesn't offer much of challenge.
The only thing that's enjoyable in Iron Man is a few nifty combat abilities our hero has up his sleeve, not the least of which is the option to tackle huge enemy vehicles, both in the air and on land. When flying near a chopper, just push down the 'B' button to seize it with your hands and literarily rip it apart - most ingenious and very fun indeed. Another cool moment is Iron Man's ability to catch rockets in flight and hurl them back at enemies. This, however, may become a wee bit wearisome after the fiftieth time.
So, yeah, a majority of the missions take place in the air, as Iron Man takes to the skies, fighting an endless army of baddies. While we're on the subject, you might want to know that certain enemies in this game tend to behave like retards. In some missions that took place in urban surroundings, I noticed that enemy aircrafts such as helicopters often bump into buildings and then recoil as if they were made of rubber.
Lackluster programming aside, there are some cool moments in Iron Man. For one thing, players are allowed to upgrade the famous suit prior to each mission. That means you can adjust Repulsors, Power Systems, Core Systems, Mobility Enhancements and Auxiliary Weapons. This part of the game is rewarding, albeit it ultimately fails to add any diversity to the gameplay.
3.4 Don't Bother
Suit upgrades are a nice touch; combat has its fun moments, decent sound;
Weird AI behavior, erratic camera and lousy controls, repetitive level design, boring mission structure, could've looked better, ultimately disappointing gameplay.