Review : Iron Man 2 – The Game

Spoilers: Iron Man 2 The Game does not follow the plot of Iron Man 2 the movie. Please enjoy this review without fear of ruining the movie for yourself!

Iron Man 2 Xbox 360 Box ArtIn this, the Year of Our Lord 2010, there are certain universal truths: the sky is blue, water is wet, and whenever a major movie franchise is set to hit theaters a tie-in game is sure to arrive. Such is the case with Iron Man 2, which hit game stores on May 4th. Published by SEGA and developed by the now extinct SEGA Studios, Iron Man 2 gives us a lot of what we expect from a tie-in game: rushed graphics, buggy gameplay systems, and a short single-player campaign… but luckily it’s pretty fun to play.

Penned by current Iron Man comic scribe Matt Fraction, Iron Man 2’s plot revolves around an ex-Stark Industries employee gone bad teaming up with A.I.M. to steal a copy of the Jarvis A.I. for use in the next generation of super weapons. The game isn’t really tied to any movie or comic continuity, with Crimson Dynamo being the only recognizable villain, although comic fans who managed to snag Fraction’s Iron Man/Thor issue from Free Comic Book Day will recognize one of the MacGuffins used in the later levels. Nick Fury, SHIELD, and Black Widow are all on hand to help out, although only in cut-scenes and in-game dialog. Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle reprise their roles from the film and do a great job (I’ll take orders from Sam Jackson any day), while Tony is voiced by a very reasonable sound-alike.

The gameplay is structed in a very linear fashion. Over eight missions, players will be able to choose between Iron Man or War Machine and customize their armor with different weapons, ammunition types, and combat modules to increase their firepower. At the end of each level players earn “Field Data”, points which can be used to buy the aforementioned upgrades. These upgrades are crucial to progressing smoothly through the game, as both characters feel fairly weak at the beginning. Get enough Field Data in a level and you’ll unlock a new set of armor for Iron Man including Ultimate, Silver Centurion, and the classic red/gold suit of yore. Unfortunately, these armors are purely cosmetic and don’t effect gameplay at all.

The mission goals usually involve simply blowing stuff, along with a few variations, like protecting the SHIELD Helicarrier from waves of attacks, to escorting the Black Widow out of a combat zone. It all sounds pretty cool on paper, but in execution you’ll find that instead of a gradual difficulty curve you’re more likely to experience a difficulty brick wall. Enemies will gang up on you from seemly nowhere. The person/vehicle you’re trying to protect will suddenly take a huge chunk of damage, or in some cases you’ll run into a bug that’ll prevent you from progressing at all. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to play the level in just the right way to get past these issues, but it’s sometimes really frustrating to deal with (one mission alone took me nearly two hours to figure out).

But Iron Man 2 isn’t without it’s shining moments. The game is really fun when you have the opportunity to simply fly around an area at your leisure and unleash the awesome destructiveness you’d expect from piloting the Iron Man suit. Iron Man can hover around at any time, and a quick doube-tap of the left bumper will put you into full flight mode. Movement is tight and responsive, so you can easily hover over a group of A.I.M. scientist, blow them away with some repulsor rays (or if you’re feeling really saucy, the Unibeam), blast off for an intense dog fight with a few unmanned drones and then slam into the ground at full speed for some brutal fisticuffs with mechs three times your size. And after you’ve purchased some of the high-end upgrades, you’ll be able to breeze through waves of enemies that had you throwing your controller in frustration at the beginning.

Iron Man 2 is a quick romp. Even after getting stuck one level for way too long, it only took me about seven hours to complete the game. However, after completion you can go back and play any of the missions with all of your new toys, and the missions are slightly different depending on which character you picked. Combined with some fun-to-acquire achievements, I’d say it would take about ten to eleven hours total to unlock everything the game has to offer. For fans of the movie or the comic looking to kill some time on the weekend, Iron Man 2 would make for a fun rental.

Rating (on a 5 star scale):

Graphics: 2.5 stars Gameplay: 3 stars Overall: 2.5 stars

Gameplay Statistics: Completed on Normal difficulty with Iron Man and War Machine. Earned 625/1000 possible achievements. Total play time:  About 10 Hours. A copy was purchased at retail for review.

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Josh Richardson is counting down the minutes until the midnight IMAX screening of Iron Man 2. Feel free to stalk him on Twitter.
 

Comments

  1. I’ve yet to see a movie made to game that’s been worth the money or the effort.  It seems that my assessment applies to this game as well.

  2. Given that the development studio was shut down and all of the employees fired when the game was finished, it’s not surprising that this sounds like a pass.

  3. 60 bucks for approx 10 hours of play time. Yeah, that’s worth it.

  4. its virtually impossible to create a good movie themed video game due to the fact they’re mostly all made on last minute rush schedules. Rentals only!

  5. The last game was horrible! Sounds like this wasn’t any different.

    Last good comic book game?…..Gosh that’s a tough one…

  6. Arkham Asylum.

  7. Dead Space.

    But then, that was the other way around.

    Also, this isn’t a comic book game. It’s a movie game where the movie was based on a comic.

    The first couple Spider-Man games based on the movies, as well as USM were really fun.

  8. Okay let me rephrase that:

    What was the last good game based on a comic film?

    All I can think of is either Spider-Man 2 or Punisher for PS2.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @TNC – That Japan-only American Splendor game for the Dreamcast was kinda cool. 

    Oh, and I remember people saying there was fun to be had with that button smasher Wolverine game, right?  

    The controls on the demo for that first Iron Man game were ridiculous. Staying the hell away from this.  

     

  10. I was hoping for this game, but I pass. Sad to see.

  11. Is the Iron Man movie not out on the U.S yet (I see no podcast here and Box office mojo hasn’t released domestic box-office yet) ? I saw it the day before yesterday and I want to see some comments about it.

  12. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Simon – It comes out tonight at midnight over here. 

  13. The last good movie-comic-tie-in games, to me, were Spider-Man 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The swing mechanics were so solid in Spidey 2, I still pop it in every now and again just to swan dive off the Empire State building and swing around for awhile.

  14. Wolverine was a button masher but all I did was lunge at everything. The roleplaying build-your-own Wolverine aspect was kinda cool, but I stopped playing when it kicked in. Just got boring.

  15. thanks @paulmontgomery. I think most fans are going to do it, but just in case, stick to the end of the credits.