Review: Iron Man
Hot Downey action.
During this review I want you to do something for me, put one hand down your trousers and two fingers up your nose. Actually I’m joking, but feel free to go ahead and do that anyway. What I really want you to do just now is ignore that giant behemoth that it seems everyone else in the world is talking about. You know exactly what I’m on about.
Raves about how big it is, how there’s more than meets the eye, when actually its just the same story over and over again that always ends in violence. Some are raving on about it and will not listen to reason at all. Others are too chicken to stand up and really say what they think about it.
I am of course talking about the Incredible Hulk. The guy is just a big green git who punches stuff. How the hell can people compare anything to this big bastard?
Now Iron Man… there’s a hero worthy of attention. A self made man. A reformed man. A non green, non shit looking man. Hulk bashing aside (we’ll put on hold for just now) lets get on with this review.
The story. I’m not telling you the story, for this is a movie licence game. On one hand it has to have story from the movie, and on the other hand it realises this is not enough for a game and therefore makes stuff up. Crap stuff. Being a movie tie-in of course the cut scenes are laughably poor and some of the talent have lent their voices, namely Terrance Howard and Robert Downy Jr. I’d rather they spent this money on the game. Takes me back to the cheapo comic style cut scenes from Jumper and X-Men3, making me realise maybe that was the way forward.
The skinny is you are in a big badass suit of armour which you fly about in blowing stuff up (even this incredibly simplistic explanation is more complex than the average Hulk story). Effectively you are playing a mish-mash of levels from all over the place where each level is in a big wide open sand box type stage. You play 99% of these levels in the Mk3 armour (the red and yellow suit) so therefore you get to fly about, use your hand repulsors, your big ass unibeam, a secondary explosive weapon or your hands for melee attacks or grappling vehicles.
Iron man then, probably one of the best comic book films you’ll see and certainly better than The Hulk’s lacklustre effort. The game based on said film, however, is another matter. Being a big Iron Man fan I was obviously looking forward to this at first but 99% of the time movie tie-in’s are awful â€“ Golden Eye and The Warriors being two of the few exceptions â€“ so I ultimately wasn’t expecting much from this other than average.
Basically a 3rd-person action shooter, the game loosely follows the plot of the movie with extra bits usually having you protect/destroy things which lead to a boss battle against minor characters from the comics. It does take a while to get used to the controls since at first they seem over-complicated and there is rather a lot to take in. The auto-aim system which locks on to the nearest enemies perhaps makes things a little too easy but the game rectifies this by throwing what seems like a million enemies at you at once and the difficulty level can be a bit all over the place. Money is earned throughout the game by completing the mission objectives and this is used for armour and weapon upgrades which help somewhat.
There are a few things to like about this game (aside from playing as Iron Man of course). The graphics aren’t half bad, particularly the character model of Iron Man and the levels. Flying around grabbing incoming rockets and jets to throw back at the enemies is always fun, despite the fact it requires ninja-like reactions to pull off â€“ the same thing can be applied to trying to rip helicopters and tanks in half. The ability to transfer power to weapons, shields, thrusters etc with a touch of the d-pad is a nice feature and shows at least some thought went into the game. It was good to see that various other armours from the comics can be unlocked by beating each mission in the â€œOne Man Armyâ€ mode, which basically consists of killing a certain amount of enemies within a set time limit. These include the mighty Hulk Buster armour and the Mark I, II and III suits but sadly the immense War Machine armour is nowhere to be seen.
If this game wasn’t a movie tie-in and actually had a decent amount of development time behind it rather than being rushed out for the film’s release, it could have been something good but sadly that wasn’t the case. Oh, and Iron Man runs like he has defecated in his suit.
Secondary Score: 4/10
Each level will have you plonked in a big area, following blips on your radar and blowing up objectives as they pop up. Ground and air based bad dudes will be trying to stop you and a boss every few levels. Along with weapons and flight comes the common as muck regenerate-o-health which I personally have no beef with but poorer games definitely seem to use this as an excuse to up the damage dealing abilities of the enemies making things a lot harder than they need be.
As I said earlier flying is a big part of traversing the environment. You fly either like Superman by holding LB (faster) or hovering with LT. Flying is pretty much only useful for zooming across the land, granted you can shoot while flying but you are going fast and once you get past enemies the auto lock-on finds a new target. What you end up doing is flying to an enemy and then hovering â€“ bobbing up and down like some sort of bad wire work martial artist, constantly up-ing, down-ing, to-ing and fro-ing and getting quite nauseous. It’s definitely not as cool as flying, but you have no other option as landing on the ground would mean all the structures getting in your way.
Completing levels give you money for upgrading the various components that make up your suit but your choices for each of the upgrade levels are usually very simplistic i.e. do lots of damage but be very slow, do little damage but be very fast, or somewhere in the middle.
Notable criticism must go to the grapple attacks. The trailers show Iron Man grabbing missiles mid air and throwing them at bad dudes, let me assure you this is very difficult to do, not just this but when grappling tanks/helicopters to snap then in two you better have lightning fast B mashing skills otherwise be prepared to see a whole lot of epic fail.
Aside from limited up-grading, not great attacks and pretty crap cut-scenes the game tops this off with the now standard movie-tie in dodgy as fuck difficulty curve – difficulty zig-zag would be a better metaphor here. Levels of ridiculous ease are met with difficulty levels that would have me destroying my pad (like certain other peowwple out there) if I wasn’t such a mild mannered gent. I genuinely hated gaming when this game took skill out of the equation to beat certain levels. I had to resort to cheap tactics like wedging myself in the landscape so that I can shoot out and they can’t shoot in after many, many valiant attempts to play normally. One of the recurring themes of difficulty was that some of the levels had infinite numbers of bad dudes so while I’m just about holding my own against a boss, little minions are flying about slapping me silly.
All in all this is a pretty poor use of a licence. Granted the game in no way detracts from the quality of the movie or Iron Man himself but I’m certainly not going to put on rose tinted glasses just for my love of the hero. There’s no harm in renting this if you liked the demo, otherwise spend the money on going to see the movie 8 times.
FYI kiddies, gamma radiation kills! At least there’s more scientific fact behind a flying suit of armour than a muscle-y guy wearing hot pants and what looks like a shit wig.