Iron Man just can’t seem to get the lead out
Let’s clear something up right now. The song Iron Man by Black Sabbath was not written about the Marvel comic character Iron Man. Although it’s being used for the movie, it’s about an entirely different fictional character. The Iron Man in the song more closely mirrors Dr. Doom, the arch nemesis of the Fantastic Four.
I’m sure the Sabbath boys concocted this tune during a state of altered consciousness. And why do you think I assume the writers were a little out of their heads when they wrote this song? Consider some of the lyrics: “Can he walk at all? Or if he moves will he fall?” If these guys weren’t out of their minds when they wrote that line, then they must not have made it past grade seven. In any case, the music rocks, the Iron Man movie rocks, and the Iron Man game sucks – at least it does on the PS2.
Iron Man is bar none my favorite superhero. What I like about Iron Man is that he’s not really a superhero in the traditional sense. Like Batman he doesn’t have super powers. Iron Man is a suit. All the powers are contained within the suit. Anyone can wear that suit. The main protagonist is Tony Stark, and although he’s the head of a huge company, he still possesses the frailties of a human being. The fact that he’s an alcoholic shows that Marvel wasn’t afraid to explore such situations in the storyline. It shows a lot of depth makes the character that much more believable. Unfortunately that kind of depth is missing from this game. Even the actual “game” is missing from this game. It’s a total disappointment to fans of Iron Man as well as fans of gaming in general.
In the PS2 version, the storyline is at best “based on” or “inspired by” the movie version. In other words, it’s not followed very closely. There are characters and situations that were not featured in the movie at all. That’s fine. I don’t need to relive the movie. I’ve seen it already. But is it wrong to expect more? Either the game should supplement the movie in terms of storyline, or it could be just a really great arcade game with a focus on action. Sadly, Iron Man for the PS2 does not address any of these concerns. It’s like the video game equivalent of some weirdo at the party who just sits and stares at everyone – and nobody knows who invited him.
In a nutshell, Iron Man for the PS2 lacks the depth of the PS3 and X360 versions. It’s been dumbed down. This version could be construed as Iron Man’s slightly intellectually-challenged cousin, TinFoil Man. The game consists of a series of linear missions. It has some neat concepts but doesn’t realize them. I looked forward to flying and shooting like a fighter jet, but you can’t even do that in this game. Sure, you can fly, but you can’t shoot at the same time. When you want to launch an assault, you have to hover. So it’s basically like being on the ground. The flying mechanics are stiff and awkward. There is no finesse flying: it’s reduced to a series of vertical and horizontal moves. No fun at all.
There are seven different Iron Man suits, each with slightly different characteristics including weapons, flight, and armor. Weapons consist of lasers, missiles, guns, and my favorite, the repulsor. It’s probably the most fun and easiest to use. It’s shot from Iron Man’s hands, and is not only accurate but makes easy work of baddies. It’s actually this kind of “easy” that is to the game’s detriment. It’s not very challenging in that most of the enemies can be targeted and destroyed almost instantly upon sight, and they don’t put up much of a fight. It’s a good feeling to be so indestructible, until you realize that the game will be over much sooner without giving you much of a workout.
Your only real concern of taking on damage is when the enemy surrounds you and starts firing from all directions. It does take a toll on your armor and can eventually cripple you to the point where your heart stops. But the second that happens, a mini-game will appear in which you have to tap out a sequence on the control buttons to restart your heart. Failing that, you will give up one of your three lives and get tossed right back into the game. It’s like playing with one all encompassing cheat code enabled.
Upgrades are available for your suits, but you don’t really have much of a say in the matter. Instead they occur by osmosis. The upgrades are performed automatically by the CPU, enhancing weapons systems favored by the player. It would be nice to be able to upgrade other weapons so that they could be of comparable power to the repulsor. But that’s not an option like it is on the next-gen consoles where you earn money that can be relegated to any upgrades you want. Iron Man seems capable of so many moves that it’s really frustrating to find the move list so restricted. You can’t even jump.
Cutscenes are culled from the next-next gen console versions, and are voiced by the actual actors from the movie, including Robert Downey Jr., who plays Stark. There is a decided lack of production values on these scenes. The lip syncing is totally off, and the animations and graphics fall short of the photo-realistic quality they were intended to replicate. What we end up with is a grotesque caricature that is eerily disturbing.
The in-game environments are anything but photo-realistic. They aren’t even up to comic book standards. They lack detail, clarity, color, and imagination. It’s as though we are seeing a pre-rendered HUD world through Iron Man’s eye scanners – on low battery power. The enemy character models lack distinction and are repeated, as are various blasé textures and buildings. The Iron Man suits do look good, however. There is some pop-up, but it’s covered up by the various weather conditions such as fog, rain, sleet, and snow. There are some collision detection issues, as you will throw punches that have no effect upon your enemy or environment. I can’t really complain about the control system. It’s fairly solid. For the most part, the in-game animation is good. The sound effects are limited to a few cheesy laser swishes, but the music is rich and orchestral.
Iron Man just can’t seem to get the lead out. Now let’s end this article with another quote from the song: “Nobody wants him. They just turn their heads.”
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.6 Graphics
Stark graphics. Not much detail. Environments are not destructible. 3.0 Control
Basic third-person shooter controls. Functional but with no finesse. 2.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is rich, but the voiceovers are tired. Limited sound effects. 2.6 Play Value
The game is very easy and very short. A good rental but nothing more. 2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.