Iron Man VR has been a while coming, having had a hands on at PAXAus last year and seeing the recent demo hadn’t moved on much from then. That said, the Rocket Boots have firmly landed hard in our living rooms now.
In Hollywood, Iron Man (the Robert Downey Junior version) led, assembled and exited the Avengers Franchise for a decade. In that time we had a very ropey Iron Man game back in the 360/PS3 era. Which didn’t make much use of the man in the iron suit.
You’d think Iron Man would be a perfect shoe-in for a VR game or experience. Remember how good the final swing was in that Spiderman one a couple of years back? Iron Man VR must surely offer that iconic view from the legendary helmet, the sheer nature of donning a headset making sense in more ways than one.
Flight and the Iron Man VR experience
Iron Man is nothing without his technology, the game does well to put you at the heart of that technology. The developers Camouflaj have done a terrific job in converting key Iron Man interfaces to the PSVR set and Move Controllers. That said the limitations of the hardware, especially the ageing Move Controllers do ultimately hold it back.
Flying the suit does not sit well with me. The concept is good, use the Moves by your side and pull the triggers. This gives you thrust, double pull the triggers for a boost. All well and good. That does not however take any care over the nuances of flight. The game throws you into chasing gates around the rocky shore surrounding the Malibu Mansion. Not a favourite pastime in any game, especially one where careening off walls is the order of the day.
Iron Man flies with multiple inputs, pointing your head and pretending your lying down until your standing throws out any suspension of disbelief. The hover button is useful, but the lack of any trim or pitch makes adjustments in-flight super tricky. Racing headlong into a cave in the game will never match up to standing in my living room. The sensory feedback alone keeps you fighting the game.
Fighting in the Iron Man VR suit
When classic weapons systems are required the game does well, until it gets heated in a fight. Leading to some confused overheated weapons being waved around. The basics are along the lines of Palms Up for Repulsors, Hands pointing out for Secondary loadouts. It works well and the game hands do a good job in keeping up, mostly. Remembering the hold a Move face button to charge up a punch or ground smash is soon forgotten.
Completing missions will earns Research Points, these can be spent on upgrades and options weapon systems or buffs. Teeney bit annoying, because you know “Billionaire Philanthropist Playboy” as we are aware is fully stacked, always.
There has to be a lost opportunity here with the weapons systems, surely taking the suit out with a full load and being able to call up options with Voice Control would have been the way to go. Who isn’t familiar with “Jarvis: give me mini-rockets”? And the like.
And all the bits in-between
The game sets out its stall early and the mission is basically up against a bunch of rogue Stark Tech. As more missions become available the variety doesn’t step up, peppered with the occasional interactive piece of hands-on they are pretty much shooting galleries. Shooting Galleries with a small variety of robotic mobs to take down.
In between the Iron Man missions are Tony Stark sequences, padding out the story they are move about and pick up stuff opportunities. They don’t really do much apart from slow down the consumption of what you came for.
Speaking of being slow. The loading screens are excruciating. Surprisingly so when they are sometimes for a relatively small section, either the hardware is showing ist age or the software is. This adds to that disconnect felt during flying sections, standing in the dark in my living room waiting, waiting, waiting for a level to open up.
Does Tony Stark have a heart?
Look, reading back this sounds pretty negative. There are times where that is painfully true, take the Shanghai level that looks like a PS2 game. However, Iron Man VR does have something for the fans. Something for people that wanted to be in that helmet in the movies. Its not perfect, but it has moments where it does thing right.
I truly believe this game is two years too late, in a world before Blood and Truth it would have been just the ticket. Now, its rough around the edges and borrows heavily from the PSVR barrel. I appreciate the team giving me the chance to get inside the suit, but I wanted the experience to be something more.