IGN Preview of Iron Man 2
I was pretty hard on Iron Man's last solo game. When it came to the Wii and PSP versions of the title, I described them as "bland" and decreed that there was really nothing positive or negative about the games because everything just ran together. This morning, I got to play Iron Man 2 on the Wii and PSP, and although the versions are nearly identical with the exception of their control schemes, things aren't as bleak as they were in 2008.
For starters, this game isn't being shoehorned into the movie's plot. This tale takes place in the movie universe, but it's not rehashing the big screen version. Instead, it's an original story penned by Invincible Iron Man scribe Matt Fraction. On top of that, Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle are on hand to voice their characters (Nick Fury and Rhodes, if you're a noob), and although Robert Downey Jr. isn't voicing Tony Stark this time around, Eric Loomis -- the voice of Iron Man from the animated flicks -- is here to give a really good performance from the little I got to see today.
The game starts with Iron Man returning to his beautiful estate to find the very weapons he's designed taking aim at him. Seems the bad guys from Roxxon -- rival tech dudes -- have busted into the Stark compound and are trying to steal the backup files for Jarvis, Tony's right hand, robo-butler. Iron Man has to take them out.
On the Wii, Iron Man 2 controls like most third-person shooters. There's a reticule that's controlled by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen, and the joystick controls moving Stark around. If you get up close to an enemy, you can shake the nunchuck for a melee attack. If you want to blast from a distance, the A button and B button control your primary and secondary weapons.
Over on the PSP, the control scheme is ripped from Resistance: Retribution. That means that the nub moves Iron Man and the face buttons control the point of view, but there's this hit box on the screen that will automatically lock onto enemies who happen to be in it. This means you don't need to worry about precise aiming and such -- just get the box on the bad guy. If there are multiple targets, the box is going to select the enemy that poses the greatest threat.
For the initial section I played at Stark manor, most of the enemies I came across were robot walkers or Roxxon baddies in yellow jumpsuits. These were easy enough to dispatch by targeting with the onscreen reticule and blasting to death. When I got tired of repulsor blasts and lock-on missiles, I could toggle weapons via the D-pad and bring in different kinds of hurt. Hell, you can quit out of a mission if you want and restart as War Machine if you need a real change of pace.
All of this bashing and blasting is earning tech points that you'll be able to spend on upgrades for your weapons and abilities. On top of that, I saw seven suits to unlock and play in that are pulled from Iron Man's lengthy history.
If you want to unlock secrets and really get a feel for the levels you're in, the Wii/PSP version of Iron Man 2 packs a scanner function. At some points, the scanner will automatically kick on and move to a first-person view of something of interest in the level, such as a door you need to blow apart or a unique enemy. However, you're free to whip it out whenever you feel like it. The device will tell you about the enemies you're up against and what their weaknesses are. If you upgrade the tool, it'll reveal in-game secrets.
While you're able to hover whenever you want to, real flight is limited to specific levels. In these instances, Iron Man's haulin' through the air and you're looking at his feet as he flies parallel to the ground. Now, Shellhead's always moving forward so your job is to move him around the screen so he zooms past obstacles like destructible stalactites and target the baddies that are in your way. It's a shooter-like level, and while it was simple, I found it refreshing and fun. Frankly I wish more of the game was like this.
See, what I remember the most about the original Iron Man on Wii and PSP was how drab and boring it looked. The stuff I played today was bright, packed some detail, and was definitely colorful, but I found the third-person gameplay itself to be a bit by the numbers. It wasn't broken or anything, but it wasn't all that exciting. I was just hovering around and slowly walking to my next objective (Why can't Tony run?). You could've put anyone in there -- it didn't feel like "OMG, this is Iron Man!" There are bright spots like the detail, the flying, and these hacking puzzles where you have to match shapes on a bunch of dials, but the combat itself was a bit flat. Perhaps that won't be the case when I get my hands on the final copy of the game and get to actively upgrade and manage my suit, but as a first impression, that's what I got.
Thankfully, Iron Man 2's May 4, 2010 release date is right around the corner so we won't have to wait too long to see if this game is more than just a straight-forward, blast everything title. Until then, keep it here on IGN for more Iron Man news.
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