|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA San Francisco||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 4, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
The arrival of the much anticipated Iron Man 2 to theaters is as good a sign as any that summer is here. As expected, the video game tie-ins are hot on its heels. It doesn't take a mind reader to figure out what people think when the subject of video games based on movies comes up, however. They are, to put it bluntly, expected to suck - and that is often being generous. Video game movie tie-ins are many times some of the worst examples of quality video gaming. So it would be understandable if you were inclined to gloss over SEGA's Iron Man 2 release for the DS as a quick and dirty attempt to get cash from parents. Who could blame you? Except, in this all too rare instance, you'd be missing a surprisingly fun game.
These movie tie-ins generally feel like rush jobs that lack any sort of real cohesive flow or fun - something Iron Man 2 manages to avoid. Action is side-scrolling, beat-'em-up stuff and isn't overly fancy or complicated, just good honest fun with enough variety to make it interesting. I'd get into the plot but let's not kid ourselves, it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is you are Tony Stark between levels and Ironman and War Machine when it counts, and there are lots of bad guys who want to get in your way.
The variety between Ironman and War Machine brings a healthy dose of diversity to the game. Both are similar yet distinct in their play styles. Ironman is the more mobile of the two, with greater speed and quicker navigation. War Machine, on the other hand, brings lots of power and an entirely different control scheme. Whereas Ironman is controlled via the D-pad and buttons, War Machine uses the touch screen to aim his rockets and gauntlet gun. I thought I'd hate playing the more cumbersome War Machine at first, but quickly appreciated the different control mechanics as a good way to simulate the different suits and their functions.
Customization and collectables add a much appreciated level of depth to bring the game beyond its simple roots. Each level has a number of comic book cover art to collect as well as concept art. While neither is particularly exciting, it is something to keep an eye out for. More interesting are the in-game challenges that unlock new types of armor for Iron Man and War Machine, for a total of six suits each. Goals like "complete the level using only melee attacks" or "complete all missions with an S ranking" give something extra to strive for. Between missions, suit upgrades can be purchased and added to the different suits to customize your gameplay for your preferred style of play. It's a pretty light RPG element but one that is appreciated nonetheless.
Losing all your life is handled with a light touch and a lot of grace. Instead of restarting at a checkpoint with a limited number of lives, a simple timed mini-game simulating power rerouting of your suit pops up. Once the job is done, and believe me, it's very hard to fail at it, your hero is back on his feet and ready to take on the world once again. It's hardly a penalty for death, but there shouldn't be. This isn't a super serious game, it is bubblegum fun, and the "death" system reflects that nicely.
Graphically, Iron Man 2 is perfectly serviceable. There's nothing you haven't seen before on the DS, but most importantly there's nothing to bog it down and all the basics are covered. Enemies are easily distinguishable, characters are animated well, and there are enough flashing lights and explosions to be entertained by. The only difficulty I had, and it was a minor one, was not being able to always tell the background art apart from the actual level. Fortunately, this is a DS game and there wasn't an audience to witness me flying the long way around an obstacle that didn't exist or crash into a wall that really did.