You are Iron Man as fans of the Armoured Avenger can finally take to the skies with the all-new immersive Iron Man VR for the PlayStation. Following the success of the Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality Experience, and Batman VR, gamers can see how they rate as one of the founding members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
What makes the entire experience even more impressive is the fact that you can spend hours flying around in-game, and not feel nauseated after. The game itself is a perfect recreation of Tony Stark’s life and no worries – while the game borrows heavily from the comics, the character designs, interface, and actions are pretty much what millions have seen in action on the big screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Players get to explore various maps, speak to characters like Pepper Potts, Nick Fury, and even interact with his A.I. Friday.
The game really amps it up when it comes to delivering the full Iron Man experience. Straight out from the movies, the game cleverly weaves the HUD into Iron Man’s holographic interface, which greets you whenever you suit up. Hence, this makes for non-intrusive HUDs and a very authentic POV from beneath the iconic suit. The interface even pixelates when the suit takes damage, adding another depth of realism to it.
Of course, the only “flying” you’ll be doing is standing on the ground in your home, but there is just something satisfying about blasting away at enemies with your repulsors, as you swing your arms up and around ala Robert Downey Jr. Beyond long range attacks with heat-seeking missiles, the game also allows for some thrilling high-powered punches. Most amusing is the fact that it even includes tin head’s Unibeam, a powerful attack that blasts straight out of your “chest” and easily slices through your enemies.
However, a little downside is that it takes a while to really immerse into the game because it can be disorienting at first. Gamers, especially first time VR game players may find it hard to find a balance between flying and fighting as both functions require a different set of controls from each hand. You may spend most of the first few chapters trying to figure out just why you keep kissing the faces of the walls.
The storyline itself is the classic Iron Man plot about the ramifications of Tony’s past coming back to bite-him-in-the-ass. Here, an entity named Ghost (last seen in MCU’s Ant-Man and the Wasp) plans to destroy Stark Industries due to her resentment over the wide-scale damage caused by Tony Stark’s weapons. However, the story can feel a little uninspired at times and can get especially confusing due to the long expositions thrown at you.
The chapters become repetitive after a while, and halfway in you would have already encountered all 6 types of enemy drones in a mix of missions that include a variety of tasks such as diffusing bombs or opening heavy steel doors of the Helicarrier. All actually also include creative use of the suit’s capabilities synced with the possibilities of the VR tech. Ultimately, the game progresses into the same routine of fighting off drones while maneuvering about in midair. Ghost herself also ghosts on the players, mainly appearing only before or after a fight.
That being said, despite the lack of more inspiring Marvels villains, fighting 6 different types of drones can be quite entertaining too. Each drone is built with unique features and varying levels of difficulty to kill. The drone that stood out was the one that could only have damage dealt to it after it has triggered its huge laser attacks. It becomes a game of balance between staying out of the laser range and getting a shot in while the drone’s shields are down. This makes for the need to strategise on the go which adds more excitement to the gameplay.
The game consists of 12 chapters in total but as we played through, there were some that could have been shortened. Each chapter takes about 10-20mins to pass and the slow pace is often exacerbated by the unusually long load times, especially when it comes to loading new maps.
Use of the VR tech in this game is top-notch, as players will be blasting things off from a distance, and enjoy the thrill of flight and are able to interact with objects. The precision of in-game movement detection is such that even if you flay your arms about and swing your head 360-degrees to fend off enemies, the game will reflect everything with great accuracy, allowing for smoother gameplay.
The button mapping on the pair of PS Move motion controllers is also well thought out, with the central top button being used for shooting and the trigger located underneath the controllers for flight. It takes a bit of fiddling to get used to the controls but even a newcomer can get a grasp of it quite quickly without having to use sight to activate buttons.
Taking off on your journey to becoming the next Iron Man is easy enough, all you have to do is to press the triggers and both hands with your index fingers and you will be defying gravity. However, your lesson in flight has only just begun. The next step is mastering the art of angling your hands behind your back in order to move forward and using your head to turn and navigate through narrow spaces and long tunnels.
The upside is that Iron Man VR allows for the syncing of body and mind because you end up controlling the flight with your movements instead of a stick or button. This allows for quite a bit of freedom to swoop around your living room as you pilot your virtual suit.
You can even pack quite a punch with the suit. All you have to do is to hold down the ‘x’ button on your controller to charge up the power punch downwards with your arm in order to dive down towards the target. Do be careful not to punch anyone in your home who happens to walk by though!
On the more lighthearted side, players will be able to interact with the environment around them and Tony’s apartment is artfully decorated with countless trinkets to explore, many which contain fun easter eggs from the comics. Not only that, you can even shake and fling the objects around the apartment. Some of the items include a revolver that looks eerily similar to the Smith & Wesson ones used throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, newsprints announcing Tony’s departure from the weapons industry and books with familiar titles like Shu Tsu’s The Art of War. It’s a shame that you can’t flip through most of them even though you can pick them up.
You can even open refrigerators stocked full of drinks and pick them up. The best part? When you lift foodstuff to your mouth area, you can “eat” virtual food. Moreover, “physical” interactions with other characters are sometimes possible. At one point, you will even get the honour of grasping Nick Fury’s hands in a show of camaraderie.
Another cool feature is when Pepper takes photos of “you” with her Polaroid, the photo will reflect the pose that you raised your arms to in it. Unfortunately, this was only done once or twice at the start of the game. You can also choose your dialogue every now and then when speaking to certain characters. It’s a nice thought to have it in but the choices themselves don’t really make much of an impact on the overall storyline.
As for the audio, the game is best experienced with headphones on. Every explosion and the whine from his arc reactor charging up of the suit helps add another layer of dynamism to the battles. And though it did feel a little strange to not hear Robert Downey Jr’s voice, Josh Keaton did a great job of portraying Stark’s snarky personality.
Despite small hiccups and long waiting times, the game does deliver the Iron Man experience as promised. From the high-speed action and awesome flight simulation to the easy-to-grasp control, coupled with Iron Man humour and easter eggs, everything irons out rather nicely in this flight of fancy.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Iron Man VR explores the depth of VR tech as fans of the Amoured Avenger can finally experience the thrill of flight (minus the nausea) and blast away at enemies in their very own Iron Man suit.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Story - 7.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10