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Elliot - Pie

Iron Man 2 Review - Pie Reviews

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I like the character of Iron Man. I can't say that I've ever picked up a Marvel (or DC) comic book in my life, but from the exposure I've had to the many characters in the Marvel universe through television, film and video games, Iron Man is likely to be my favourite character. I imagine Tony Stark as Bill Gates if he were inclined to be a superhero - a self-made billionaire philanthropist with a passion for technology. He's a surprisingly likeable character, and one that I can weirdly see as a sort of aspirational figure, being big on technology myself. Watching the first Iron Man film was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and the second was a lot of fun too, as much as critics disliked it.

So, it might be reasonable to call myself an Iron Man fan. If only this were true of the game.

I want to like the game. It should, by common logic, be fun. You get to play as Iron Man! With massive weapons, launching missiles out of your ass and shooting giant battle robots in the face with guns and lasers! You Falcon-punch tanks, making them explode!

If this isn't as much as all that, then something has clearly gone wrong. And yes, there are many things wrong with Iron Man 2. For a start, this over-the-top combat just isn't very satisfying. None of the weapons feel as though they really have much of a punch to them, which leads to a disappointing lack of physicality to the combat, and worse still most of them are utter rubbish compared to Iron Man's laser and War Machine's machine guns. I don't think (apart from when the game forces you to) there's a good reason to ever really stray from these weapons ever. There's this bizarre arbitrary cut-off point of 100 metres where if you're trying to attack from further away than that no hits will ever register and suddenly as soon as you step over that threshold your attacks are perfectly effective, even to the extent that up until that point the enemies' health isn't displayed. Sure, I can understand that for the machine gun, but for the homing missiles? That sucks. I will admit that punching enemies feels good, but there are so few opportunities to really do this as getting close to enemies is so difficult in larger areas of terrain.

That brings me onto navigation nicely. There are two modes of movement, hovering (or running, if you're on the ground for some silly reason) and flying. Hovering is kind of uncomfortably slow and flying is one-speed and feels a bit sloppy, especially with how it works with respect to locking on to enemies. If I lock onto an enemy and then start to fly, it's very difficult to keep locked on to that enemy, as the game will randomly switch me to another enemy more often than not, so that I have to fly directly at the enemy to attack them instead of, say, flanking them to avoid their missile fire. Flight controls seem generally very loose, again lacking a sense of physicality that a giant metal suit flying around with booster jets really ought to have, and stopping flying involves pulling back on the left stick which will seem to take variable amounts of time to work, meaning that you often overshoot where you were trying to get to.

There's an upgrade system so that Tony Stark can invent more stuff for his suit like better weapon models, ammo types and suchlike. Trouble is, there doesn't really seem to be much of a difference made by swapping out ammo types and modules, and there are very few of them anyway, so it loses its value as a strategic decision and becomes an irrelevance, something to play around with between missions. I suppose the reason that there are so few upgrades is that there so few missions - the game can, if you're really blitzing through, be completed in about an hour. It's ridiculously short. There are eight missions, and I think I've completed each one of them in less than ten minutes, some in less than five. I can understand people being very pissy about being asked to pay $60 for what was on offer here. For what I paid, this is less of an issue, but it's still pretty ridiculous to see PlayStation Minis that are longer and more substantial than this.

It'd have been much nicer to have seen a Spiderman 2-esque game where you just got to fly around and shoot the crap out of giant robots and stuff in a big free-form environment rather than this really restrictive, narrow, mission-based structure. Derping about as Iron Man would be a lot of fun, in the same way as derping about as Spiderman 2 was. Throw in some flying missions, stupid over the top set piece explosions and stuff and it might have made a half-decent experience.

Oh, and the game is also pretty horrendously ugly. There is, in one mission, a tunnel that you're told to fly into. You can see that the mouth of this tunnel is just a big flat black texture, and yet there's a super close up of Iron Man just shrinking in size whilst he stays in front of this big black polygon. It's laughably bad. Some of the texture work and modelling on the Iron Man / War Machine suits is good, but that's about it.

All this and yet I can't bring myself to utterly condemn this in the same way as Mercenaries 2, Alien Breed: Impact or Anarchy: Rush Hour. There were, very occasionally, moments of bad-ass intensity where I did feel like Iron Man, but they were pretty rare, and in between them I fell into this state of mind that was neither particular boredom nor particular enjoyment but rather a blank acceptance of the images on the screen in front of me and the controller in my hand. It was a zen state of utter indifference. In a weird sort of way, it was a perfectly tolerant way to pass the time in the same way as idly reading a book you know back to front or listening to music you know very well. I can't recommend you play the game yourself, nor tell you that I think the game is good, but as someone who would consider themselves a fan of the character, my time spent with Tony Stark and his Iron Man suit is not something I wish to repeat, but equally not something I wish to take back.

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Great review man!

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This game is pretty terrible. I think you hit upon every problem I have with it. I'm a big Iron Man fan and I knew the game would be bad, but I can't believe it didn't even meet my low expectations of it.

I think my biggest complaint is the control scheme. The locking mechanic works inconsistently for me and sometimes causes my character to just spin around uncontrollably if an enemy is too close.

Trying to control yourself during flight mode is unnecessarily difficult too. This especially becomes an issue during the fight with ULTIMO where you have to precisely fly to the power nodes to rip them off while he's moving around and attempting to swat you.

I do appreciate that Don Cheadle and Sammy J lended their voices to the game, but it doesn't add much to its credibility.

Like you said, you'd think that just being able to BE War Machine would be fun. But it's not.

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