I've been wondering to myself. I borrowed this game from a friend just yesterday, and I only tried it out today, getting to the fourth level. Now, I'm no professional reviewer, and when it comes to reviewing games, I try and finish the game before writing about it, or at least getting as far as I can through it.
With Iron Man, I've gone far enough. Which is a bad thing.
Fully titled "Iron Man: The Official Movie Game" (unless it's "Video Game", I don't know), this is obviously based off the movie and gasp, that means this could be a case of the "curse of the movie license" we all know and hate. This game, is one of those games.
Being based off the movie, the game kicks off instantly with Tony Stark being held captive in the caves of Afghanistan by the bad guys (I forget what they call themselves). Within minutes, you're in the Mark I armor, ready to pulverize the enemy and escape.
Now, in the Iron Man movie which came out recently (and of course, which I completely loved) when Tony busted out the crude Mark I armor, it looked real slow, heavy, etc. Well, funnily enough, you're able to sprint instantly. So, you run around, torch some bad guys with your flame thrower, maybe bust a tank or two, and then beat the boss who's riding around in some super tank, in a ridiculously lame boss battle.
Seriously, by "ridiculously lame" I mean for me, the boss got STUCK. He got stuck, and just stopped moving. So I just pounded at him with my missile launcher.
So level one serves as a basic tutorial to the game, while level two continues to be a tutorial as Tony is now in the silver Mark II armor, so Mr Stark is back in America over at Stark Industries. This level is all about flying. Then later, Stark Industries is attacked, and you're the one man army to defend it. in a repetitious battle, of repetition.
First let's get one thing out of the way. Combat, is pretty frustrating. You can shoot basic concussion blasts, missiles, and then the powerful uni-beam (I think it's called)? Each attack, with the exception of missiles will drain Iron Man's power. Should he run out of power.. it'll just recharge pretty quickly. Iron Man is also capable of melee attacks, and grabbing enemies, enemy vehicles etc.
When enemies are grabbed (vehicles in particular) you initiate the "grapple" mode, where you just pretty much spam the circle button until you destroy the vehicle you're attacking.
Speaking of the circle button, you can grab regular enemies and toss them aside, down and hard with the circle button. Should enemies shoot large missiles at you, Iron Man can catch the missiles and toss them back, with the correct timing of the circle button.
When it comes to flight, Iron Man can hover using the L2 button, you can increase his altitude quickly, or fall to decrease it. You can also strafe in the air, and can even do quick dodging dashes with X. You can fly by holding the L1 button, and you can fly faster by holding L1 and X to perform an "after burn" flight, which decreases mobility, but increases speed.
When flying, it can be fun but at the same time, very frustrating. You don't have much control, and it doesn't really "feel" like Iron Man (when you compare the game to the movie). Hovering around and shooting feels very dull, and gets old and tedious pretty quickly. It is cool to fly straight through helicopters, but the crappy effects involved in the enemy's demise isn't too thrilling. It can also be difficult to switch between flight and hovering, especially during combat.
Since game play is out of the way, let's talk about visuals.
They tend to vary.
Iron Man himself looks pretty cool, but some of his strange animations (including the "let's severely lean our backs back as we walk down a hill) look really strange and uncomfortable. From afar while in the sky, the large open ended environment looks cool, but as you get closer, it loses its realism and becomes quite dull and lifeless. Enemies, whether its vehicles, troopers, or gun turrets, all look bland compared to that of Iron Man.
The game also feels incredibly "jerky", from enemies, to even Iron Man himself quite often just.. moving left and right very quickly, just.. jerking around. There's no other way to describe it, really.
Boss battles are very uninspiring. The boss simply just moves around, and you shoot at them. That's it really. The third boss of the game is.. some guy with a sort of muscle suit looking thing with electricity. He did not attack my brother (playing at the time) at all. He simply just ran all over the place, while my brother as Iron Man, chased him and shot at him frequently. It was embarrassing to watch.
The cut scenes feature decent voice acting from the film's actual stars, but the presentation of the cut scenes is well, poorly presented. Characters move with annoying, overly done movements and animations, the lip syncing is incredibly inaccurate, and some of the characters (particularly Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr.) don't look very accurate to their actual selves.
The sound track is good, but at the same time bad. It features an orchestral score that suits Iron Man perfectly but, it's as if they only recorded ten seconds or so of each individual track, and then simply play them on a loop.
The game also features a lot of things that just.. shouldn't be there. As my brother said as he played the game, "How did this s*** get through play testing?" Such "s***" can include the following - very poor enemy AI, enemies (including bosses) getting stuck in the environment, enemies simply freezing in place, jerky animations, to even apparently, console freezing. Although I have yet to experience the freezing.
One of the redeeming points of the game is the ability to upgrade Iron Man's weapons, armor, equipment and so fourth. After each mission and depending on how well you do, you will receive funds. These funds can be used to unlock upgrades for the Iron Man suit. Whether it's more powerful blasts, to faster movement and flight, to better and more durable defense.
Unfortunately though, upgrading is useless when it comes to unlocking suits in the game. You can unlock suits such as the Hulkbuster, or the classic Iron Man costume. These can all be unlocked in the "One Man Army" mode, which is pretty much an arcade mode of the game (finish levels as quickly as possible and get as many points as you can). Unfortunately, these unlockable suits cannot be upgraded.
Iron Man: The Official Movie Game (or Video Game?) is one of those games that the developers really need to think about now that it's been released, reviewed, and played. When it comes to movie licenses, the developers don't really seem to actually care about making a "good" game. They'll just make a game to be in time for the release of the movie, so people who enjoy the movie, might buy the game. It's all just marketing and money. it's a real shame, because it just keeps on happening. A video game for Iron Man has huge potential, just as any other superhero film turned into a game does.
The only good movie licensed games I have played within the last few years that I can think of, is Spider-Man 2, and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Both games weren't perfect, both games had their flaws, but they were in my opinion ,brilliant regardless.
It might be a bit early to say, but in all honesty, I do believe Iron Man: The Official Movie Game (or Video Game? I still don't remember!) is the worst game I have played in 2008. Perhaps another game I play later this year will take its place? Or, perhaps not.
A rental at absolute best.