|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA San Francisco||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 4, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
Iron Man 2 (the video game) is the sequel to a game based on a movie based on a comic book character. By all rights any one of those levels of adaptation generally means you've got a clunker on your hands. Therefore, I issue the following qualified statement: Iron Man 2 is not terrible. Now before you list the myriad problems with the games presentation, gameplay, etc.-and they are very common-I have to say there are some silver linings to the game's very tarnished outer shell.
After a few hours of playing the game, I wonder if SEGA's newest action game wouldn't have benefitted from a bit of extra polish. As far as superhero's comics go, 'ol Shell Head has managed to make his way into the upper atmosphere of games, but that's not necessarily a huge achievement.
There are a bunch of problems with this game, but out of respect for Tony Stark's very solid, initial silver screen performance (and so-so sequel) I'll start with the good. Despite years warming the Marvel Comics bench, Iron Man made a huge splash with the titular film starring Robert Downey, Jr. in 2008. Fanboys and comic geeks alike were ecstatic to see the star-turn in theatres and responded to director Jon Favreau's adaptation to the tune of nearly six hundred million dollars worldwide. Unfortunately, a video game adaptation was sure to follow, and gamers were decidedly less enthusiastic when Iron Man the video game hit consoles. Critics, gamers, and Iron Fans held their noses, and the game even managed to garner recognition for its tedious gameplay and illogical control schemes.
Iron Man was a resounding misfire on consoles but SEGA went back to the plant, melted down the scraps from developers Secret Level and Artificial Mind and Movements' game, and created Iron Man 2. For anyone who played the first game (this will seem a bit ironic) Iron Man 2 is not too far removed in terms of gameplay. You'll fly around blowing up robots, tanks, and helicopters. You'll hover around blowing up robots, tanks, and helicopters. And you'll run around blowing up robots, tanks, and helicopters. It's just as repetitive as ever, but SEGA Studios manages to infuse just enough entertainment value into these gaming clichés to span the shallow half-life of the game's story.
Speaking of which, if you planned to purchase this one rather than rent it-I'd advise making it a Blockbuster night-you'll get an all-new tale to sink your teeth into penned by comic scribe Matt Fraction. The Eisner Award winning writer of several Marvel properties, Fraction was an advisor on the set of Iron Man 2 according to Wikipedia. The story (featuring some comic villains I won't name in order to keep the pre-teen boys who'll convince their parents to buy this happy) is not awful. The dialogue is goofy at points, which makes the exposition seem less crucial and the story seem less serious. I'm not sure exactly which words Fraction penned, but the narrative seems uneven when you hear the bad guys sneering insults like Dustin Hoffman in Hook. In any case, bringing in a comic writer was a good call by SEGA, but without the gameplay to support the story, there seems to be a missing piece. In short, this game would've worked a lot better as an episode of a Saturday morning cartoon show.
By the end of your first hour of gameplay, most of your adventures in Tony Stark's world are pretty familiar. Opening doors, shutting down force fields, and reprogramming weakened foes are all handled with a few taps of a button. Hovering is handled by pressing alternate face-buttons to ascend and to descend; movement is handled through the left thumbstick, while the camera and crosshairs are mapped to the right thumbstick. Double tapping the left shoulder button allows you to dodge or close on an enemy for melee attacks. Combat is pretty fast-paced, but the control scheme handles it fairly well. The right shoulder button is used to lock onto enemies, the left and right triggers fire your primary and secondary weapons, and the remaining face-button handles Iron Man's remedial melee options. The system isn't bad; it's familiar to anyone who has played a third-person action game before. Targets can be locked and cycled through with a flip of the thumbstick. An HUD radar allows you to keep track of your foes (though they always make themselves known). And you can change each of your weapons by using the left and right buttons on the control pad. It's nothing too enthralling, but it's not frustrating either.
The coolest thing about the game is the ability to customize your suit's weapon configurations. Each of the armors you can earn and play in the game can be outfitted to suit your combat preferences with lasers, rockets, missile launchers, and more. It adds some extra depth to the game's very basic and rote 'blow stuff away' philosophy. It's an addition that most people will probably ignore once they figure out a way to configure their weapons that they find effective. Why should you change ammo or weapons if you fight the same two or three types of enemies? Like many aspects of gameplay, it's an okay idea by itself, but the game is just not made to take advantage of it. Take, for instance, the messy matter of taking flight.