I Am Iron Man
Virtual Reality can allow for many experiences that may not be possible. You can cast magic spells, you can tour the Moon or you can even just go on vacation. Iron Man VR allows you to jump into the Marvel universe and don the iron suit. Flying about, shooting down enemy technology and even making witty one-liners – you can do it all.
For those who are fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it should be mentioned that things may look familiar but not exactly the same. Inspiration has obviously come from it and events will be recognizable, but characters will look different, and notably, they will sound different. You are Iron Man, but you’re not exactly that Iron Man.
How’s The Story?
Iron Man VR opens with Tony shutting down weapon production after his kidnapping incident. His weapons are set to be decommissioned, his gun put into storage and an A.I. called Gunsmith which designs weapons for him is shut down. This chapter of his life is over and now it’s all about making the world a better place – not helping to destroy it.
Skip ahead five years and Pepper Potts has just been made CEO of Stark Industries, much to her surprise. While Tony, Pepper, and their new A.I. F.R.I.D.A.Y. are discussing this their plane is attacked by a Stark drone, with some additions. A new enemy has come out of the woodwork and almost kills both Tony and Pepper, the latter who is briefly put out of commission.
Tony, seeking revenge decides to reactive Gunsmith to try and help and track down the enemy using his old drones against him. Gunsmith helped to make it after all. In many ways, he represents Tony’s past in weapon development and is even physically modeled after Tony himself. He’s reckless and often finds the answer to be better weapons, but he is great at what he does. It’s quite interesting to see him clashing with F.R.I.D.A.Y. who is more level-headed and closer to the current Tony.
While the story is mostly told over about seven hours of the main storyline, it’s worth praising the amount of effort they spent building the parts of the world which not everyone will see too. There are tons of extra little touches like a tablet you can interact with to see the news, a podcast you can listen to, and a mini-game you can play and hear Tony’s reactions when he loses. These all help to flesh out the world a bit more.
I cannot say that the story was anything amazingly innovative or a narrative masterpiece. I can say that it was an interesting look at seeing Tony face down his past and how his former actions have come back to bite him. The story is more of a draw than I expected from Iron Man VR, which I initially thought was going to be all about the flying about and shooting. Not that there isn’t plenty of that.
To Fly and Fight
Flying around in Iron Man VR is an incredibly fun experience. It is also a somewhat difficult experience, at least initially. Humans were not meant to fly and my initial attempt at trying to propel myself through the air with repulsors coming from my hands only reinforces this.
After some practice, the technique for flying did become more evident and it went mostly smoothly. Fine control took a while but learning enough to go around and smash some enemies came quickly. Camera positioning is certainly important though, as your move controllers are meant to be low down at your sides. It’s fairly easy to obscure them and when the tracking goes, fine control is certainly out of the window and you might accidentally fly out after it. I only really noticed this during time trials though, where you need to fly through hoops and in a few other instances.
The combat itself is great. Flying around and shooting down drones really does make you feel like Iron Man, as do the other sections where you need to force open doors or scan buildings. For combat, you come equipped with a number of techniques and learn more as the game goes on – initially you start with a standard ranged attack, but you can unlock secondary weapons such as missiles and a chargeable beam cannon. Punching is also a possibility, both with a short-range boost towards the enemy to punch them away and a ‘superhero landing’ version, where you go flying down to pound the ground. Modifications can be made too, such as slowing down your normal attack but making it more powerful and possible to charge up.
Modifications were generally a feature I appreciated, despite them being somewhat limited. After completing a level, you are awarded a score and some points. The points could be spent on unlocking new and exciting ways to kill enemies or fly about. Sometimes it was as small a change as increasing my acceleration instead of my maximum speed for a certain level, but being able to decide to do that for a level with a lot of tight turns was a bonus.
While I’ve already noted tracking being an issue, that can mostly be mitigated and is more an issue of the PlayStation VR hardware than the game. I suppose the whole concept of keeping arms down at your sides to fly and bringing them up to shoot is a difficult one with the limitations of the hardware though if you’re limited on space to get a good camera angle. On a related note, I did come across another odd issue where my arm suddenly got stuck in an extended position and could not interact with things. Despite this, tracking was working fine, as proven by trying the menu. Luckily it only happened a couple of times.
The major technical issue is the loading times. It can take about a minute to load the next level in some instances – I actually at one point grabbed a drink, checked my e-mails and replied to a short message while waiting for a level to load up. This is generally not acceptable and is particularly bad in a game like Iron Man VR where you are expected not to take the headset off and just to wait around.
Outside of technical issues, it’s worth mentioning that while there is a good amount of content, some of it does retread old ground. It’s not all unique content as you will revisit certain places.
Iron Man VR is an exciting way to experience the Marvel universe. It has its issues and it’s certainly no masterpiece, but the gameplay is fun, it takes an interesting look at Tony Stark and it has more content than most virtual reality games. While I doubt it would ever happen, I would love to see it come to PCVR someday or perhaps a future PlayStation VR 2 with fewer limitations. It passes my requirements for the recommendation, but there is a demo and I do suggest trying that out before buying.
IRON MAN VR IS RECOMMENDED
“A potentially great game, mostly limited by technology. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had here”.
Many thanks to Sony for a PlayStation 4 review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.