Iron Man

When you’re being expected to blow stuff up and you’re more frustrated than happy, you’re probably sitting in front of the wrong game. Sadly, that seems to be Iron Man’s problem.

The Marvel character of Tony Stark’s Iron Man has appeared numerous times in video games throughout the year. I can remember early days where I played on the Sega Saturn as well in the arcade when the metal clad hero took on other Marvel characters in a massive brawler much akin to the Street Fighter series that everyone knows and loves.

But Iron Man has never had a playground of his own to really stretch in.

Now that the movie – directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr – has been released, Sega have grabbed itself the franchise and made something that Iron Man could be proud of.

Except for that since Tony Stark is an engineer – and a good one too – he’d probably be ashamed of what Sega have made for themselves.

Let’s start with the good: Iron Man has excellent voice acting. It’s good to start with the original actors behind the film and that’s exactly what the developers have done, tapping actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Terence Howard to reprise their roles from the film. And while some actors couldn’t be there to play their respective characters, most of the voice acting throughout the game is spot on.

The graphics too are nice with shiny metal shaders and nice explosions. A few texture issues exist around the place but by and large, Iron Man looks good.

It’s the gameplay that sadly lacks.

The easiest way to say it is that Iron Man isn’t fun. I know, that might sound like a big call but when you’re being expected to blow stuff up and you’re more frustrated than happy, you’re probably sitting in front of the wrong game.

Most of this has to do with poor game direction, bad story, and weak continuity.

If you haven’t watched the movie, don’t even bother playing the game. It’s as if the developers were too lazy to connect anything happening in the game with a story or words to indicate time is passing by. As a result, Iron Man feels like a series of loose events barely connected to each other.

You start in the cave where your character has been kidnapped, but short of seeing the movie, nothing is there to tell you why you’ve been kidnapped only that you have to escape. From then things get silly as there’s nothing to tell you time has passed by and all of a sudden your suit suddenly gets better. In the film, things happen but in the game, nothing is mentioned.

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Iron Man also happens to suffer from some of the worst controls you’ll ever play with. It feels as if the developers wanted a free-roaming flight action game but since they couldn’t pull it all together, they blended it with a couple of mini-games more or less ripped right out of God of War. Often, all you have to do is fly or run close to an enemy, hold a button down, and then repeatedly hit a button to neutralise the enemy.

If this doesn’t sound like God of War, I don’t know what does.

The sad part of this is that while it’s all well and good trying to be like great games, when you’re using every available button on the controller, it’s not only uncomfortable, it’s downright ridiculous to force people to change their hand position on the controller just to kill something in a game. As a result, I can only surmise that Iron Man’s controllers were designed for people wearing the Iron Man suit and no one else.

Iron Man also lacks a lot of polish. Games often have bugs – and that’s fine, really it is – but Iron Man is loaded with them. Some enemies take ages before they take a hit, others die too easily, you can manage to kill more enemies than are supposed to exist in a level, the streets are barren even though you’re apparently there to save civilian lives, and often textures and models are completely separate from each other.

To put it bluntly, Iron Man is bad and a waste of a perfectly good franchise. It’s often seen as one of the hardest things to do when converting a comic or a movie to a video game because of how good the original sources can be. But Iron Man keeps with the tradition of giving everyone’s hopes up, sadly.

I’d rent it before I even considered buying it. If you’re able to make it through the game without wanting to chuck the game disc out of a window, you did better than I did.

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Developer: Secret Level, Artificial Mind & Movement
Publisher: Sega
Classification: M
Formats: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PC
URL: Iron Man

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark