I really thought that Iron Man 2 was a solid movie, so I was hopeful that the game wouldn’t be a total screw up.
What I’ve noticed from many recent games based on movies is that they try to extend the story portrayed in the movie, either as events leading up to the movie, or events immediately following the movie. Two recent examples of this that come to mind were Terminator: Salvation and GI Joe. Iron Man 2’s video game, a third-person shooter/action/adventure title developed by Sega, falls into the “after the movie” concept.
The game opens up with Tony’s archives building being attacked by robot drones. Immediately Tony and Rhodey scramble to the scene and try to quell the chaos with repulsor beams and mini-guns blazin’. For the most part they are successful, but after checking all his files, Tony finds that part of his original program for JARVIS, his electronic butler and suit A.I. program, has been stolen. Knowing what could happen if that A.I. fell into the wrong hands, Tony and Rhodey start following a trail of breadcrumbs to find the culprits.
A simple comic book plot that ties well into the canon that the movies seem to be developing, the villains in the game are new adaptations of classic Avengers/Iron Man villains. Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), Roxxon, Crimson Dynamo, and Ultimo all make appearances in a much deeper plot than is initially revealed in the opening level of the game and is done in a way that makes sense for this new movie universe, but stray far away from the comics. For example, Tony Stark in this new universe now creates Ultimo, one of the most formidable of villains of the Avengers and originally created by Hank Pym. An interesting account of these classic characters, but purists will flip over this for sure.
So, the plot may be workable, but a story alone does not a great game make. This game from a technical standpoint feels rushed. The graphics look like they were something from the last generation of consoles. NPCs looked cartoony and out of place and the backgrounds were bland at best.
The audio was unimpressive also. The voice acting was solid, but the dialogue was uninspired and I was disappointed that only Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson lent their voices to the game (I hereby declare my love for Scarlett Johansson). The music lent to the game from several rock bands was good, but they didn’t get any AC/DC, which is a clear theme for the movies. I think that is proof positive that this game was rushed to hit store shelves along with the movie hitting theatres.
The biggest downfall of this game though is the gameplay. This game is chock full of glitches, the controls felt unnatural (especially the flying where you’re constantly crashing into walls or obstacles), and made the game much harder than it needed to be. Mind you, the difficulty of the game was somewhat impressive, but it wasn’t because of a good enemy A.I., but because of sheer numbers and health handicaps when you up the difficulty. And even then, you only have eight missions that should take most veteran gamers only 8-10 hours to complete on hard. On easy, this game isn’t even worth a rental since there is no strategy necessary when playing (out of curiosity, I played a few levels on easy after beating the game on hard, and it was a joke, especially in terms of being able to procure a lot of the achievements). Plowing in headfirst will almost always win the day.
Another weakness of the game is the replay value. If you actually enjoy playing this game, there are new armors and power ups that you can acquire by repeating levels. Also, in four of the eight missions you can choose between playing as War Machine or Iron Man to get a different feel between War Machine’s offense heavy strategy and Iron Man’s defensive minded maneuvers. Some kind of multiplayer or co-op mode with both heroes would have gone leaps and bounds for this game and because of that there is really nothing to bring you back to this game. I don’t even think there is enough to bring you to this game once actually.
When you sit back and look at this game with a careful eye, you see the framework for a very solid third person shooter/action/adventure game. Unfortunately, it looks like Sega, either of their own volition or pressure from Marvel, rushed this game, plain and simple. Every element of this game seems incomplete, from the graphics to the gameplay mechanics. It seems that Iron Man 2 has fallen into another summer blockbuster pattern: the corresponding video game is usually nowhere near the quality of the movie.
Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.
Graphics: 5.0: The models for people and villains are solid, but a lot of scenery clearly has a poor polygon count and seems incomplete or very basic at points. A very rushed job by the folks at Sega.
Audio: 6.0: The soundtrack was solid, but a lack of AC/DC was disappointing considering how important it was for the movie. Also, the fact that only two actors from a star studded cast signed on to do the game is a joke, even when they’re actors of Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle’s calibers.
Plot/Plot Development: 6.0: Not a bad story that works well with the new universe created by Marvel’s movies, but die-hards of the comics will want to throw a brick through their TVs and use the game disc for some skeet shooting.
Gameplay: 3.0: Chock full of glitches and a poor control scheme makes this game a chore to play at best. Add in an uneven difficulty system and only about 10 hours of gameplay on the hardest difficulty and you’re looking at something that should be put on the scrap heap.
Replay Value: 5.0: There are only eight missions in the game’s story and only four of those allow you to choose which of the two heroes you want to play as. There are some weapons and classic armor to collect and some very easy achievements to acquire via replaying a few levels, but beyond that there is nothing to keep you playing this game.
Overall (not an average): 3.5: A rush job all the way around, Iron Man 2 is horribly disappointing and maintains the status quo of good movies often make bad video games. Only the most hardcore of fans should even rent this. No one should buy.