Ok, so the movie came out on the big screen and fans have been raving about it for weeks. And if by some oddly strange circumstance you have neglected to get out there and go see this year’s hottest sequel by now, well hey, sucks to be you I guess. Whatever the case, the Iron Man series has rocked the movie scene leaving behind in its wake a flock of hardcore gamers who’ve already watched it with a serious need to get their Iron Man fix on. Enter "Iron Man 2" for a console near you: The "answer" to your problems…or not. Let us take a closer look at the skinny.
First off, this isn’t Sega’s first stab at this particular movie-game tie in so let’s get the facts. The original Iron Man game was, honestly, a little better than "ok" at best but really lacked some key elements. In a nutshell the graphics could have been more polished, the controls were noticeably stiff and shotty, camera angles were torturous, and the fun was a roller coaster of "ups" and "downs" making for a bit of a lukewarm game play experience.
However, there’s an old saying that goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me." Stellar box office flick or not, someone’s got some owning up to do and it’s time to get a few things out in the light about this new Iron Man 2 game.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not all bad news for Sega’s latest sequel. There are some noticeable kudos to give out, the first of which is graphics. The game looks a lot more polished this year overall, bringing to the table more fleshed out character models, respectably detailed environments, and some nice special effects eye candy. Iron Man has never looked better. The icing on the cake: "War Machine" as a playable character looking just as good right alongside Iron Man himself.
Besides, improved graphics, players get a chance to do a little personalized customizing of their own to suit their particular tastes. The game puts players in Stark’s lab where they can fabricate and boost weapon and ammo load outs, select a respectable armor from the wardrobes of Iron Man and War Machine and then put it all together just before they go out on their next mission. Customizing is fairly easy and efficient to pick up on, making for one of the more memorable experiences of the game.
Unfortunately for Iron Man 2 though, things don’t get much better from here. First thing that comes to mind is audio. A quick first take of the voice-overs: hated it. The only authentic voice in the whole game is War Machine’s? I mean its bad enough we had to get used to Don Cheadle stepping in and taking the place of the original films co-star, Terrance Howard who played the fantastic role of "Lieutenant James Rhodey" and would have been standing beside Robert Downey as Tony Starks best friend a.k.a War Machine, but now this too?
Listen, I understand all the red tape and how hard it is to get the stars to come out and do voice-overs for a game, but how bad does it look when the co-star of the film’s voice shows up in game and the main hero’s doesn’t? I mean it’s the equivalent of walking up to a famous sports player and asking them if their manager can sign their personal autograph for them. It’s like going out to a fancy restaurant where the food is great, only there no utensils to eat with. Like being invited out by the President to go play golf with the Vice President. It’s just…wrong man.
The big kicker is that the game play suffers from shotty controls yet again. Granted, these are slightly improved over the original, but the buttons are mapped in such a way that it almost feels like two hands on the controller isn’t enough to get the job done. Most players probably won’t feel comfortable with the controls until better than midway through the story mode and others may not master them until they’ve finished it.
Let’s just say it’s a bit of a challenge to fly, control thrust, maneuver, and manually fire primary and secondary weapons individually off the left and right shoulders, all in simultaneous fashion during combat situations. Yes, you can, with enough practice and time get the controls down pat, but again the learning curve doesn’t do a lot to help initial first impressions.
Even worse, the camera angles are still a big problem, leaving players vulnerable to a lot of attacks from the blind side or causing them to occasionally misjudge enemy positions, or overshoot target objectives. Boss fights can be a nightmare at times and it’s a real chore to defend or escort V.I.P targets. These annoying camera angles really make for a frustrating game play experience.
All in all, Iron Man 2, though it has its moments, is for better or worse the same as the original game: mediocre at best. Ultimately good graphics and some nice new features get overshadowed by disappointing audio and scripting as well as some frustrating game play controls. In short, after test driving this year’s Iron Man game it seems obvious that this on-going movie-game marriage is headed for the rocks in the very near future.