Over the last decade or so, there are very few superheroes that have become as popular as Iron Man. The character had an incredible transformation over to the silver screen and has been the backbone of the MCU. So, when we all learned about Marvel’s Iron Man VR for the PlayStation VR, we all got excited about the prospect of flying around in a mech suit, saving the day.
But how does it stack up? And does the actual experience meet the expectation of being Iron Man? The answer is both yes and no, so let’s have a look.
Am I Iron Man?
In Iron Man VR, you play as the billionaire Tony Stark, who after years of profiting off warmongering, decides to leave that behind, stop selling weapons and use his technology and fortune for good. The whole game is played from his perspective and you can see developer, Camouflaj put a lot of effort into making the experience as authentic as possible. You use PS Move controllers for this game and right as you start, you have an option to calibrate your height and arm length by doing a T-Pose and holding the triggers on each controller. It is weird that this is the first time I came across something like this, but it really helped to get the dimensions right and it meant fewer glitches and weird arm movements. I also like the fact that you can actually see your arms and torso if you looked down, and you’re not just a disembodied voice with floating hands.
Iron Man VR doesn’t wait around too long to get the action going and you’re basically thrown into the suit immediately, where you proceed to fly around and shoot practice targets in order to get the hang of it. You control everything with your hands essentially, with the direction of the boosters in Iron Man’s hands dictating your movement. So basically, point it down if you want to fly up and point it back if you want to fly forward, with all sorts of variation to that. The game also allows for almost 360° movement with very clever warnings and indicators to get you to face forward again.
You have different weapon types, with the main Repulsors shooting out of the palms of your hands and auxiliary type rockets or autocannons shooting out of arms, just like Iron Man does, and how they activate depends on how the Move controller is orientated. It is very well-designed concepts, even if a bit wonky in some instances.
The story then takes you to different locations where you do different Iron Man things and save the day, progressing through a linear story that isn’t the best but also isn’t that bad either. As you progress and complete missions, you get scored by your proficiency, similar to a Devil May Cry game for instance. The better you do, the more research points you get, which you can use to upgrade your suit and arsenal, and all missions can be played again to get better scores and more research points. So Iron Man VR does offer some form of replayability.
Some cracks in the armour
Unfortunately, the experience for Iron Man VR isn’t the best virtual reality one we’ve been hoping for as there we just too many issues that made it a bit of a tiring experience. First off, as can be imagined, the gameplay is all over the show, so if are prone to motion sickness, then it might be a problem. I very seldom have issues with motion sickness, but I did experience it after an extended time in the headset, so it goes without saying, you will need to take regular breaks or keep it to short sessions. I also had an issue where the HUD seemed to be just out of view, almost like it was placed a bit wide on the screen. It would be fine most of the time, but other times it moved out of view and I couldn’t see if auxiliary weapons were available or not.
Another major issue I had was the gameplay got rather repetitive and boring after a while, and that coupled with having to shorten my playtime, the review became a bit of a chore. Iron Man VR is basically a game where you fly around and shoot drones of different variety and colour, and with more of them and increasing annoyance. Instead of enemies becoming more challenging and entertaining, the solution for variety was mostly to give you enemies that frustrate you more, not allowing you to do all the cool stuff you want to do. It also doesn’t help that some environments are reused, and that some of the missions are basically simulations or training. It feels very padded out in order to make the game feel larger and longer than it should be, and it works against the game.
Visually, the game looks fine, the environments reminds me of games from a decade ago, but that is okay considering the tech and limitations of the PSVR headset. Some areas are re-used, but there is a map set in a canyon that is very cool and well thought out.
Not quite there yet
The best way to summarise Iron Man VR is that is a great concept and starts out with a bang, but it didn’t quite stick the landing. It works, and it plays well and has a decent enough story attached to it, but it could have been better. My experience with it started out great, but the feelings slowly devolved into ones of frustration, annoyance and boredom, which is a real shame.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is a great proof of concept that almost pulls it off and will be a wonderful game to show your family and friends when we’re allowed to be social with each other again. Not bad but could have been better.