First setting my eyes on Iron Man all those years ago, I was in awe of this amazing character. The back story of his creation, the evolution of his suit, to the full range of his characteristics and capabilities as a person, I wanted to be Iron Man. Now, thanks to Sony and developers Camouflaj, I can.
I cannot tell you the excitement I had when I dusted off my PSVR and turned my PS Move controllers on. So many thoughts going through my head of what was going to happen and how it was going to happen. Although I did have one lingering thought in the back of my head, ‘Please don’t be a disappointment.’
Standing up and ready to go, I hit the title screen with a smile on my face and looking forward to flying around. We start with a training sequence. Fly here, go there, shoot that. And, to be fair, it is needed. Don’t get me wrong as I was flying towards the iconic mansion on the coast of Malibu and the famous Sony Interactive Entertainment logo appeared, I just got even more hyped for this experience.
Flying around has to come to a halt at some point to introduce you to the story. The characters are one thing I want to make a point of; when I first heard Tony’s voice, you are instantly drawn to comparisons with Robert Downey Jr. You just can’t help it and it’s perfectly natural to think like that. Downey sold that role perfectly of this eccentric billionaire who had the world at his feet. However, the voice acting for Tony Stark in Iron Man VR irritated me. At first, I was OK with it but as I progressed through the game I dreaded hearing him. Some of his dialogue was good and quirky, typical of the Tony Stark character, but I couldn’t budge the Downey Jr performance that has been stapled to my brain. Just to point out, the irritation was with the comparison and not the actor himself.
The supporting characters are good and the interactions between each of them bring to mind the relationships you would assume Tony would have with them. His Gunsmith AI, however, is Tony’s voice actor again and for me this was a bit over the top with the back and forth. What was wrong with having another AI voice over? His primary user interface, F.R.I.D.A.Y, is ever-present in the game and brings some additional supporting dialogue in as well as assisting in setting the scenes for the missions ahead. Pepper is also present, going from assistant to CEO overnight just like in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and does become the damsel in distress at times.
Tony’s house is interesting to look at and even has some limited functionality. You see the layouts of this exemplary property and are a bit envious of how big this place is. With most Iron Man fans though, we want to see the toys. Apart from the usual VR stuff, eating food, opening doors, picking up books, there are a few fun interactions to use. The basketball arcade game will keep you entertained for a good duration, especially for you trophy hunters out there who want to beat the high score, this can be easily achieved. A punching bag will keep you in shape (put the straps on the controllers, don’t break your TV) and there is also a pull-up bar too that you can test your motion sickness on. All of these don’t really attribute to the progression of your character and are just a nice novelty to have in his Man Cave. However, keep plugging into them for a while and you might have a familiar trophy sound appear.
As well as art strewn across his walls, you can see the Iron Man suit standing proudly in the centre. The suit looks amazing and can come in its various colour combinations depending on mission objectives being met. Not only are colour customisations available, but you can customise pretty much all of his suit and these are unlocked by research points. Research points are earned in mission, with a max of five being awarded at the end of the mission. These customisations of what I have seen early on in the game are worth 5 points each, so it will be a matter of time before you have them all unlocked.
You are forced into your first compulsory add-ons and are taken out for a test flight to flex your new armory. The controls at first, felt a bit all over the place. Flying seems simple enough with the one set of triggers on both controllers to activate thrust and then just point in the direction you want your propulsion to go while using your head for direction. Now introducing the munitions that you will be using while in flight, the game allows a layer cake of training to take place earlier on in the story. This lets you get all the fundamentals out of the way so you can concentrate on being Iron Man later on. Changing between a basic shot to your customised firearm is as simple as a flick of the wrist and while in your time trial training, you will get to practice this plenty. I had found while in missions and the pressure is on, you can just fumble your way through armaments and just throw everything at the enemy in a blind panic, but the mission is complete right?
The missions are somewhat interesting. What I mean by this is that while it is a whole new world of Iron Man in terms of story, it took a lot for me to get invested. The flying, the use of weapons and being Iron Man is brilliant and so much fun, the story needed to be brilliant for the complete package and I just didn’t feel it. At points, I thought the game story did really well, especially when you meet the main antagonist for the first time, the experience of VR suits it so well. It is not bad in terms of ruining my whole experience, I just wasn’t invested to the point where I didn’t want to turn the PlayStation off. I was happy to doff my headset and pick it up again tomorrow from where I left off. The game has twelve chapters so it will keep you busy for a long time and the story does tend to build itself up quite well in the end.
My other big nag for Iron Man VR is the load times. Now it is a big game for PSVR and will need a lot of time to process its levels and props, but it did disjoint the flow of my experience as a whole. From being Tony Stark for a good half hour to forty-five minutes in one mission to waiting two to three minutes between levels just broke it up and playing while standing, you tend to take a seat and contemplate on the wait. It is possible this is just a VR characteristic that cannot be removed until bigger and better hardware is present or maybe it is because I was using a day one build. I fully expect a patch to be deployed to improve this as well.
Personally, I would have loved to have gone through the journey of Iron Man from the start, possibly followed the same plot as the film. From the cave, to the switch in arms dealer to superhero, and so on. I think many fans who were young when the Hollywood blockbuster came out, would have liked this experience to be a chance to live and breathe those moments. This is only a personal preference and should be not considered against the development of this title.
Overall the game is fun, and I mean it is really fun. Controls and flight need a little getting use to but with the story getting better the longer you play, it turns out to be a really good VR experience. It has slight flaws that take the edge off it but if you are a fan of Iron Man and love your VR outings, this is one for you for sure.
Iron Man VR drops on 3rd July 2020.