Cheap Game of the Week – Iron Man

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Overview: The videogame adaptation of one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Pricing: This one is scattered but I think $15 is a good median, typically used. Can be found for $20 new.

Rip-Off Warning: Very little danger here. $20 across most console platforms is pretty standard.

Platform: DS, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, PSP, XBox 360 (Reviewed), Wii, Windows

Is it worth it?: Let’s get a giant disclaimer out of the way. Iron Man is one of my favorite superheroes. The very concept of using technology as the basis for superpowers instead of magic, radiation, genetic mutation, or “scientific” accidents was different and creates a whole new wrinkle in the debate over what makes a hero. Is Iron Man a person or a gestalt entity that you can become by possessing the armor? Is it Tony Stark himself a hero at heart even without the armor? These issues were barely brushed up against in the movie and the game doesn’t acknowledge them at all. Despite the film being heralded as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time, similar care was not taken with the game.

The Hulkbuster throwing a tank, naturally.

The Hulkbuster throwing a tank, naturally.

This is a shame because there is a ton of potential for Iron Man in a video game context, but the game doesn’t seem to know what to do with the character. One suggestion made to me was to treat Iron Man like a “jet fighter that can walk”, and this is a fair analogy but it doesn’t work well. Iron Man is not a plane even though he often controls like one. Your three basic modes are fly, hover, and walk, there is no in between. You can strafe targets on the ground but trying to engage them at slower speeds is nearly impossible. In fact, most problems are solved by merely hovering in place and using repulsors until the target explodes.

Combat should be more satisfying than this, but it’s difficult to enjoy because even if you accept the jet fighter conceit in flight, the controls are just too imprecise to be useful in making Iron Man a tiny dogfighter. He is too vulnerable running on the ground and it also feels silly when he has boot jets.

The missions themselves are repetitive and the difficulty curve is all over the place and often hampered more by the poor controls than intentional design. For instance, a base defense mission is nigh impossible even on the easiest difficulty because of the shoddy controls but the final boss is easily defeated using the same hover in place and blast away tactic used throughout the game. Granted, you might have to fly away and let yourself repair for a bit.

The one highlight of the game is the ability to unlock other Iron Man armors, with the XBox 360 version having the “Silver Centurion” (A personal favorite) and the Playstation 3 version having the Iron Man Armor from “The Ultimates”. Various other suits like the “Classic” or Hulkbuster can also be unlocked.

Allow me to geek out for a moment. This would be the Iron Man "Silver Centurion" Armor

Allow me to geek out for a moment. This would be the Iron Man "Silver Centurion" Armor

Final Judgement: Unless you are just a die-hard Iron Man fan I would PASS on this game. It is another typical hasty movie cash-in that completely squanders its potential.

Comments

  1. I actually bought this new when it came out. It’s not an inherently bad game but I traded it in about a month later.

    The biggest issue is that you have to mash about 30 buttons to hover and do the various other things in the suit and the missions can get somewhat tedious to boot. There needed to be a hover option that would let the suit sit at one particular altitude while you moved about.

    It would be nice if they could make a good game for the second movie, but I’ll stick with Ultimate Alliance 2.

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