|System: DS, X360, Wii, PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artificial Mind and Movement||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 2, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
By now, most people who are interested have probably already seen Iron Man. As every gamer knows, with most movies comes a plethora of - videogame adaptations. Most tend to be pretty terrible, but every once in a while you find a diamond in the rough. Iron Man for the Nintendo DS had the potential to be such a game, but a bunch of little problems stack up and ultimately makes Iron Man a pretty boring, forgettable game.
Plot-wise, Iron Man fails to do anything impressive. It follows the path of the movie fairly well, and the quality of the story doesn't really affect this game one way or the other. After all, Iron Man is an action movie, so it's no surprise that the movie spin-off is a shoot-em-up. It's a fairly basic shooter, and while it does have some interesting aspects to it, it also suffers from the same problems that plague many less-than-great shooters on the DS.
One of the high points of Iron Man, however, is the controls. They're quite similar to those of the DS version of Geometry Wars: you'll move Tony Stark with the D-pad (or face buttons, if you're left-handed like me) and fire by tapping the touch screen with the stylus. It's actually a fairly intuitive control set-up that works well for a game like this, though it's not the most original configuration in the world. In fact, it feels like the developers implemented this set-up just to use the touch screen, rather than having it offer some kind of groundbreaking experience. An alternate control scheme would have been nice (taking advantage of buttons for aiming rather than the stylus), especially because stylus-based shooting gets a bit repetitive and boring after a while.
Furthermore, that sense of monotony is very much accentuated by the title's basic gameplay mechanic. It's quite simple and can be summed up in just a few words: Blow up everything! There are no puzzle solving mechanics or occasional twists to the way this game works. You move and shoot stuff for the entire game, and the only real variation is whether you're doing this shooting on land or in the air. There's a slight difference in pacing between these two level types, but aside from that, the level-design doesn't really manage to be unique.
The enemies in particular give you the feeling that once you've played one level in Iron Man, you've played them all. The baddies you'll face off against are recycled over, and over, and over again: tanks, helicopters, turrets, vehicles, and the like are pretty much all you'll see for the course of the entire game. Needless to say, this really is not a lot of fun. As I've already mentioned, level-design is lackluster and boring; sadly, the same thing holds true for the combat.
The game does offer some variation in difficulty, which is very much appreciated. However, this spike in difficultly isn't done all that subtly. Instead, enemies just get stronger and there are more of them. It's pretty dumb, because at the core there's never any change in this game. You do the same thing over and over again for eight levels without any variety, change, or anything else remotely interesting.