It’s hard to believe but the first comic I remember reading was an issue of DC’s Legion of Superheroes from the 80s. I was a kid then so I didn’t really know much about anything…but what stuck was how cool this dude in a suit with flame powers was.
It was years later when I’d find out his name was Inferno, and his backstory was that he was energy that could only be contained in the suit. Since then, suit-based (whether it be armored or containment) have always fascinated me more than your run of the mill do-gooder.
You know where I’m going with this right? I LOVE Iron Man. When I was a teen, I got a chance to read most of the armored avenger’s adventures (right up to Avengers Dissembled) via .cbr.
Long story short, as a hardcore fan of Iron Man, does the game do him justice?
What is Marvel’s Iron Man VR?
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is a VR action game, developed by Camouflaj and published by SIE. It’s exclusive to the PS4, requires two PS Move controllers to play and our copy was kindly provided by the awesome folks at SIE Singapore.
The game put you in the shoes (or armored boots) of Tony Stark, right as he’s swearing off the weapons manufacturing business and converting Stark Industries into a force for good.
In theory, Iron Man + VR sounds like a match made in heaven. In reality…well…
Let’s get the bad news out first…the game’s not that great.
I am Iron Man.
When the game works, it’s wonderful.
In the action stages, controls play out exactly how you’d expect them to; a button (and then punching motions) for punches, palms up for repulsors, palms down for wrist missiles. Sadly, the Unibeam (the chest laser) requires button presses. Flying requires you to move you hands behind you (to move fast) and short bursts of directional taps to orientate your movement. Trust me, it’s all very intuitive and there are tutorials to help you through them all.
You’re soaring through the air like ol’ Shellhead himself, blasting drones and other machines with your repulsors, Unibeam and wrist missiles. It’s fun, it’s relentless, and it’s a hell of a ride.
The controls for the game are complex but very intuitive, though you’ll want to stand to play the game. You’ll get the hang of them with just a few minutes of playing. The controls themselves play a big part on why the game is so fun (at times).
Playing on a PS4 Pro, I can play for about two hours at a stretch before motion sickness starts to set in. I’m fine with the rapid movement and action in the shooting stages but I weirdly get queasy with the teleporting movement scheme in the story sections.
It’s probably due to the inconsistent framerate in the stages. Story stages can have noticeable slowdown, which is also present in some of the combat stages. The variable framerate is killer on the eyes, which leads to the queasy feeling you get from VR.
If you’re prone to motion sickness, you’re definitely going to want to play the game in short bursts.
Once you’ve acclimated to the controls, the combat stages are damn fun. In fact, they’re the highlight of the game! You’re dashing through the air, using repulsors to dodge and return fire, locking on with your wrist rockets or even slamming the ground (aka the Superhero Landing) with your fists. You’re not playing as Iron Man…you are Iron Man.
True, they’re not really deep on gameplay mechanics (you’re mostly just blasting stuff in all the stages) but it’s mindless fun, which is nice.
You even get to customize what gear goes into your suit before every mission. They don’t really change up the gameplay (gear only gives minor buffs like faster health regen) but the ability to somewhat customize your loadout is welcome. I just wished that the game took it one step further and let you choose your own armor. Oh what I wouldn’t give to use Tony’s God Killer armor or the Hulkbuster.
The plot itself isn’t too bad as well.
Ghost’s out for Tony’s blood due to his weapons (from his weapons manufacturing days) causing untold death and destruction. So she hijacks old Stark tech and uses it against him…shades of the Armor Wars here and there but nothing too original or noteworthy.
The story’s not set in 616 or the MCU, so characters look a bit different than you’re used to. Not so different that they’re unrecognizable but different enough. Nick Fury is black here too, so the MCU is a definite source of inspiration.
There are also comic callouts too, such as the Osborn buildings in the game and Dario Agger (The Minotaur and CEO of Roxxon) being in it. The Living Laser’s also present though his niche stature might leave a ton of people scratching their heads.
That’s a pretty valid point to be honest.
Camouflaj could’ve certainly picked better villains from Tony’s rogues gallery. Over the decades, he’s tangled with pretty much every known villain in the 616 so why not pit him against more beloved villains?
Kang (or Iron Lad), the Mandarin, Doctor Doom, Sunset Bain or even Arno Stark would’ve been better and more awesome in my opinion. Sure, Ghost used to be a big thorn in Stark’s side but that was waaaaaay back in the 70s/80s. Nowadays, most people associate the character with Ant-Man (if you’re an MCU fan) or the Thunderbolts or A.I.M., if you’re a comic reader.
Still, even the questionable plot would be bearable…if not for the technical issues that plague the game.
First off, it’s the damn loading.
Not only do the stages take a long time to load (upwards of a minute at times) but they take time to load after they’ve loaded! Let me explain…there’s always a loading screen with a summary before you hit the stage. This is where you’ll be spending most of your time…waiting for the progress indicator to slowly crawl up from 0% to 100%.
Then…when it’s finally 100% and you click to progress…you get another loading screen. This one is full on blackout, nothing to see…except some audio like Tony musing or background noise for the stage. It’s only after a looooooong interval (around 10 – 20 or so seconds) that the game loads whatever stage you’re in.
You’d better pray that the stage isn’t multi-part or else you’ll be back to a loading screen before you know it.
Now I have no idea why Iron Man VR loads so much. The stages are small, the visuals aren’t even incredible so I have no clue what’s with all the loading and the insane amount of time for every single one of them.
It kills any buzz the game’s fun action stages had, especially when you’re thrust into the boring story stages where you’re warping (you have no movement control in non-action stages) from point to point as the plot is unfolding. These stages are necessary I reckon but I just wish they weren’t so dull. You can only interact with some objects during these stages and even these interactions seem canned and boring.
It’s a damn shame too, because I can’t stress how much I love the action stages and the pew pew pew parts of the game.
The Bottom Line.
So…to answer the question I asked at the very beginning. Does the game do Iron Man justice? In the action stages? HELL YEAH! In every other part? Not really.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is a spotty affair; when it works, it’s an incredible Iron Man game. However, it’s the moments in between that drags it down.
The unstable frame rate, the long and multiple loading and the boring story stages bookend a nice, juicy center. It takes a bit of an effort to get to the good bits but the good news is that those parts are entirely worth all the long ass loads, stuttering frame rate and boring exposition you have to sit through.
Just have your phone handy to keep yourself sane.
Fun gameplay marred by insane loading time and boring plot.
- Gameplay is simplistic but fun.
- Decent stages.
- Immersive controls,
- The insane loading times.
- Boring story based stages.
- Unstable framerate.