Whether you love or hate the films there’s no denying that fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become a cultural phenomenon, packing cinemas across the globe with fans eager to see superheroes saving the day. Central to all of this has been Iron Man, a fan favourite because rather than having some sort of magical power it was engineered armour, giving that air of feasibility to the character. Everyone would love an Iron Man suit and now they can (sort of), thanks to Marvel’s Iron Man VR, the closest you’ll ever get to properly donning the red and gold suit.
There have been other videogames which try to emulate that sense of freedom and power Iron Man evokes in the films yet without being inside the suit and firing a blast from one of your hands it’s just not the same; that’s where Marvel’s Iron Man VR is different. Developer Camouflaj has created an experience where you can now soar through the skies or twist and turn through ravines as the armoured superhero, shooting down enemies without breaking a sweat.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR strongest parts are its narrative and gameplay mechanics. The story is original yet still nods towards the overall Iron Man universe, where he’s now a force for good rather than a weapons manufacturer. In this experience Tony Stark’s past comes back to haunt him, having to deal with two super villains who have teamed up, Ghost and Living Laser. They wish to topple Stark’s empire and are using repurposed old Stark tech to do so. Battles take place around the planet, from Stark’s Malibu home to Shanghai, China, making for one action-packed adventure.
Just like the films Marvel’s Iron Man VR is mostly wall-to-wall action, there’s no real brain teasing here. So it’s all about mastering those flight controls in conjunction with an assortment of weapons, finding a preferred loadout and going in guns blazing. Flying is actually fairly easy with the PlayStation Move controllers, holding them by your side to move forward and then angling your hands depending on the direction you wish to fly. Things do get a little more complicated during battles when you’re trying to dodge incoming projectiles whilst shooting enemies so there are boost and hover options to help when required.
The main worry with the system was whether the PlayStation Move could handle all this action in a 360-degree warzone without tracking problems. Camouflaj has done a great job in this area so you don’t have to stay rigidly forward facing the camera, you can twist and shoot then fly away with ease even when almost looking completely in the opposite direction. Strangely, it wasn’t the action sequences that caused tracking issues, these occurred in the main hub area (Tony’s home) when trying to through a basketball or interacting with certain areas.
The core game is a linear story-based tale where you can quite happily go through the main campaign in around eight hours or so. Yet there are plenty of little extras to play with extending those hours further whilst ensuring the gameplay doesn’t become repetitive. You can explore Tony’s home to find little Easter eggs, unlocking a few trophies along the way, or take on some of the extra flight and shooting challenges his AI’s set for you. In the centre of it all is the customisation area, where you can mix and match two loadouts with various weapons and augments to tailor the suit to your needs.
These are unlocked by earning a maximum of five stars across each of the levels, using variables likes checkpoints used or time. All the modifications cost the same, so there are none which are more highly coveted than others. They add a nice spice the battles which could’ve become stagnant otherwise as most are about shooting everything that flies. Of course you do get to battle those nasty super villains who provide the greatest challenge.
For those concerned about comfort in this fast and frantic videogame don’t worry. The flight mechanics the studio has built shouldn’t cause too much of an issue, plus you can play seated if required. The only problem with that is you don’t quite get the full versatility of standing and moving around, plus don’t sit on a sofa, use a chair. Purely because putting hands by your side to fly doesn’t work nearly as well.
Really, the main quibble VRFocus has with Marvel’s Iron Man VR is the loading times. Played on a PlayStation 4 not only are they frequent between each and every area, they just seem to last for ages – certainly noticeable when stood up. Stark does occasionally air his thoughts in some of these moments but most of the time it’s either a black screen or an information screen watching a percentage increase with story snippets and gameplay tips. Because of the regularity and time taken that sense of immersion and presence you get from the battles does diminish.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR does feel like its stretching the boundaries of what PlayStation VR and the Move controllers can do. Yes, the load times are very annoying yet the experience as a whole is still super satisfying. There might have been a few delays along the way but Camouflaj has made sure it was worth the wait. While there are plenty of hours of content to enjoy what’s most important is that exhilarating feeling of being Iron Man. Marvel’s Iron Man VR does that, making for a rewarding superhero experience