Iron Man VR Review: Bring the summer blockbuster home

"Iron Man VR is an entertaining superhero adventure that doesn't quite reach the summer blockbuster heights."

  • Satisfactory flying

  • Frenetic dogfighting

  • Creative motion control

  • A robust package

  • Fussy VR

  • Generic history

  • Unpolished graphics

Any other year, Iron Man VR would have flown under the radar. Despite all the simulated exploits and explosions, it's the kind of licensed superhero fare that feels slim next to a muscular Marvel Studios movie.

But of course 2020 is not another year. Cinema-goers won't pack theater to see the next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon. Iron Man VR could be the best thing fans will bring to a summer blockbuster this year. It's not an ideal substitute, but the thought of traveling to a fantasy world where good always beats evil sounds more appealing when hope is so scarce.

Although Iron Man VR doesn't fully utilize its promising potential due to technical limitations and a general lack of polish, thanks to its creative control scheme, it offers enough fun and action film heroism.

Marvel flight simulator

Iron Man VR can best be described as a first person aerial combat game. Players step into the iconic red and gold armor to tell an original story about a mysterious hacker who directed Tony Stark's deadly drones against him. Much of the adventure is spent flying around arena-like locations and blowing robot waves out of the air.

Both actions are carried out with varying degrees of success using the PS Move controller. When flying, hold the moves straight down and press the triggers to drive forward. Turning the controller left or right moves the suit in this direction, while tilting it horizontally increases the height.

It's not the most seamless VR flight game, but when it all comes together it's an undeniably cool experience.

It seems intuitive at first, but gets more complicated when steering comes into play. Players can tilt their heads to rotate, but the most effective way to move is to press a button to rotate the camera. Flying becomes a difficult balance between controlling the position of the character in the game and focusing on the PlayStation camera in physical space.

It is not the fastest learning process. In the game's early missions, I played with my arms and neck and tried to achieve a smooth flight pattern. It felt like I was playing a scene in a Spider-Man movie where a freshly bitten Peter Parker whirls around on the rooftops trying to learn the mechanics of his nets.

All this trial and error paid off when the controls finally clicked. In an outstanding mission, players fly through a rocky canyon to pursue a runaway villain. It's a standard video game chase, but it's also a sequence that rewards the player's mastery. As I raced through narrow passages and effortlessly meandered around rugged cliffs, I felt less like a youthful avenger. Instead, the PSVR headset felt like the Iron Man helmet, and the Move controllers became palm boosters. At that moment, I was a superhero racing through the air with verve.

It's not the most seamless VR flight game, but when it all comes together it's an undeniably cool experience.

Exploits

The action side of the game has its own ups and downs. During the flight, the Move controllers can be raised to shoot enemies. When you aim a straight one like a sword, players can fire blaster shots from the palm of their hand while tipping down activates an auxiliary attack like homing missiles from the suit's wrist.

If everything works as intended, all the time you spent as a child with superheroes was worth it.

As with flying, shooting takes a bit to get the hang of it. The nuance of the wrist placement makes it difficult to constantly trigger the intended force in rapid battles. Flying and shooting at the same time is a separate fight in which the players have to juggle two separate movements. If the flight already feels as if it is fully focused, then the tandem action is absolutely impossible.

Even with the tricky controls, firefights are often fun and hectic. The waves of jellyfish-like drones offer players many moving targets where they can test their skills. It is uniquely satisfying to blow up incoming enemies with the palm of your hand on the right and aim with the other five ships and destroy them at once with a barrage of wrist missiles.

Iron Man VR

Iron Man VR adds additional gestural gameplay to reinforce the feeling of heroism. If you hold down a button and swing the controller, a powerful blow is triggered, which can throw opponents back. There are also many other well-known comic book moments. The players open incredibly heavy gates and release the stuck landing gear of an airplane during the adventure. This type of tactile design feels more exciting than tapping X quickly to achieve strength in an average game.

The overall fight can sometimes feel a bit simple, especially when compared to a superhero game that is as varied and fluid as Marvel's Spider-Man, but the physicality of VR allows for additional experiments in combat. If everything works as intended, all the time you spent as a child with superheroes was worth it.

B-Movie

Despite a creative approach to control, Iron Man VR stumbles across its presentation. The story itself is a collection of genre clich├ęs, from tortured heroes to predictable red pegs. The constant jokes feel like they've been pulled out of a seminar on writing a Marvel movie.

The graphics don't look much better. Many of the textures wouldn't look out of place in an average Nintendo GameCube game, and the biggest set pieces tend to fall flat with lackluster effects. That wouldn't normally be a deal breaker for VR, but superhero games live and die through spectacle. Iron Man VR has a lot of potential, but can't always deliver its blockbuster moments. Explosions are more often anti-climactic than they inspire.

Iron Man VR

It's not that the game doesn't feel complete. It's a weighty package with an eight-hour history, lots of bonus missions, and a full suit customization. The problem boils down to a lack of polish that feels uncomfortable for the genre.

Love her or hate her, Marvel films have made entertainment a science. These superhero adventures have been carefully designed to provide constant fun for fans. Even when they are the weakest, it is rare for this iron formula to crack.

Iron Man VR has a lot of potential, but can't always deliver its blockbuster moments.

Iron Man VR, on the other hand, is a game in which players constantly see the seams. The technical restrictions always prevail, whether in the form of recycled locations or incredibly long loading times. These limits are particularly noticeable in the game's home base scenes, where Tony Stark's arms tend to twist and twist in a way that makes a surgeon flinch.

The frequent interruptions in flight keep Iron Man VR from reaching new superhero heights. There are lightning bolts from Avengers Action, but the experience is more similar to that of Tony Stark, who controls his Mark I armor for the first time and tries to remove the kinks.

Our opinion

Iron Man VR is an entertaining escape that finds creative ways to turn motion controls into heroic stunts, but lacks the thrill and polish needed to make it feel like a real Hollywood spectacle.

Is there a better alternative?

Marvel's Spider-Man is still the gold standard for modern superhero games, and Eagle Flight is a more elegant (but disgusting) VR flight experience.

How long it will take?

The story takes approximately eight hours and the game features races, combat attempts and free flight to add weight to the package.

Should you buy it

Yes, if you have a PSVR and a Move controller. If you don't have one, a killer app isn't enough to justify a full VR investment.

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