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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iron Man (Xbox 360)

Final Word:
Iron Man is a typical movie game, from swarms of respawning enemies to the obligatory boss battles that lack innovation. Iron Man is a chore to play from beginning to end. Save your pennies, go and see the movie again and ignore this rusty attempt.
You can count the good movie games on one hand, pretty much using only a couple of fingers. In fact really, there’s only ever been one awesome movie game in my book and it isn’t exactly a game that follows the movies, it ties in nicely and fleshes out some of the earlier story, that game is the Chronicles of Riddick, every other movie game has been derivative and a complete let down from the Harry Potter series to the free roaming, Superman Returns and the terrible Batman Begins. If you want to pick nits you could say that the Lego Star Wars games are the best movie games of all time, because they’re fun! Oh and the Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which was fun too, probably because it wasn’t a movie game.

So, now it’s the turn of a childhood favourite hero of mine to be mauled into the digital age. I’m talking about Iron Man here, Tony Stark, billionaire weapon inventor and tech genius that gets a bunch of shrapnel into his body that’s slowly working its way towards his heart. With the help of a captured inmate and fellow boffin he is hooked up to a car battery and an electro magnet. This isn’t quite up to snuff for Stark so he builds what amounts to a small nuclear reactor into his chest over his heart to keep the electromagnet functioning for a long time.

The Iron Man game is supposedly based on the movie, the movie being utterly awesome for an Iron Man fan like me. The game however is a big letdown and proves once again that proper movie games really need to be approached in the same way as Riddick was, but by a team who understand two words, one of these being polish. Iron Man is a Junker, it’s a clunky bug-fest that really should have had another few months in development, perhaps even another six months, but it’s got to be out around the same time as the movie to ‘ca-ching’ in on the hype and fanboy LURVE that’s going to blind many fans of Iron Man to just how terrible this game really is.

The story is loosely based on the film, and I don’t care what Stan Lee or the director say about the game, on as many videos online as I have seen them praise it for the graphics or the gameplay. I don’t share their rose-tinted view of Iron Man. The game has numerous bugs that crop up now and then from a loss of frame-rates to floating enemies, Stark getting stuck partially inside buildings and pretty tricky controls. I guess the controls are ok once you invert the flight controls, but still, they made some odd choices.

A half press of the left trigger allows you to hover, a full press lets you gain height, then to bleed off height you have to let go and drop like a rock, hover, drop like a rock again. Firing the repulsors (Iron Man’s primary weapon) is done via the right trigger; a full press will lock on to the nearest enemy. Pressing the left bumper engages flight mode and the game doesn’t do too badly here, in fact once you get used to flying in Iron Man its pretty fun. But that’s the problem, that’s really the only fun part of the damn game.

Sure you can upgrade your Mark III armour with a variety of tech upgrades, which means you have to think tactically about your purchases. Do you upgrade Stark’s power core and allow yourself more bang for your buck with your upgraded repulsors, or do you go for something in the way of faster flight mechanics, dodging and top speed. This is a welcome addition since these upgrades do actually give you an edge in combat, and you’ll need it.

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