Though it has technical issues and an unoriginal story, Iron Man VR is a great game that could have delivered more from its iconic hero.
As the current console generation slows down, PlayStation has released several incredible games such as Dreams, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghost of Tsushima. Each game took risks in their own ways and offered great experiences that have come to define the PS4 in its final year. With Iron Man VR, developer Camoflaj puts players in Tony Stark’s iconic suit with the help of PlayStation VR and its Move controllers to give PSVR a long-awaited exclusive. Despite some technical issues and a decent story, Iron Man VR is a great game that makes you feel like Iron Man in the best way possible.
The strongest aspect of Iron Man VR is its ability to make the player feel like Iron Man. From the moment his mask turned on and I could see the world around me, my inner nerd was freaking out. With the PlayStation Move controllers, you can control the direction you fly; if you aim the Move controllers behind you, you’ll move forward and if you aim them down, you ascend upwards. While it takes some getting used to, flying around feels great and traversal can be fun. That being said, the motion tracking isn’t always accurate and you might end up bumping into a wall a couple times or speed up too quickly. Regardless, flying through each story mission feels good and does a great job of immersing you in Iron Man’s world.
In addition to traversal, Iron Man VR also does a great job with letting players personalize their experience. Like flying around, you use the Move controllers to aim Iron Man’s repulsors. The shooting feels fun and gets even better with the array of secondary weapons you can equip. Getting these alongside any upgrades can be done in Tony’s garage with the help of research points, an in-game currency you earn during the game’s story plus several flight and combat challenges. Some secondary weapons range from smart missiles to bombs that can take multiple enemies out at once. You can have one on each arm or on both arms. To use them in combat, it only takes a flick of the wrist, and its good to go. Like Iron Man’s repulsors, they’ll cool down for a couple seconds if you use them too much. As for upgrades, they range from things like letting you fly faster or decreasing the cooldown time of each weapon. Additionally, you can change how Iron Man’s costume skin looks, and there are plenty of things to unlock. All of these aspects give the player fun combat that leaves room to customize the experience so that one person’s Iron Man plays differently from another.
In its moment-to-moment gameplay, you fight several types of drones that each need to be taken down differently. You can take down some with your repulsors quickly while others have shields blocking them, requiring that you’ll have to be patient when attacking them. While the combat can be fun at times, it can get repetitive quickly. That can be alleviated a bit by mixing up your weapon loadout, but the combat encounters in Iron Man VR can get stale after a while.
When it comes to Iron Man VR‘s narrative it isn’t the most groundbreaking Iron Man story, but it left me wanting more. The game sees Tony Stark retiring from making weapons and shifting his focus to creating technology for his Iron Man suit. From here, the story picks up a few years later as Ghost–a hacker and the villain of 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp–repurposes old Stark Industries drones and weapons. Through the game’s 12 chapters, we see Ghost take down several Stark Industries-owned locations as she seeks revenge on Tony and wants to see his company topple to the ground. Along the way we travel to places like Shanghai and a SHIELD Helicarrier, which aren’t the most visually impressive things to look at. Some locations are more direct in where you need to go, while combat moments give you a lot of room to move around. As an example, one story mission has you go inside Stark Industries’ Shanghai building and you have to move to different markers to experience a bigger piece of the story.
Having Ghost as the villain makes sense for this story, as you learn more about her interesting past and how it ties into Tony’s story. Other characters like Friday, Iron Man’s AI, are a great counterpoint to Tony, and there are times you forget she’s not human because of how well-developed she is. We also get Gunsmith, an old AI Tony used and brings back during the story of Iron Man VR. The dynamic between Friday and Gunsmith, in particular, was interesting because each of them portrays one side of Tony, with Gunsmith representing the more cocky, egotistical side, while Friday shows the intellectual and thoughtful side of him. Pepper Potts and Nick Fury are also featured, but it’s more of Tony’s story and how his actions, both past and present, have affected everyone around him. With the game encompassing 12 chapters, parts of it feel bloated; for example, there are two chapters that consist of a cutscene, followed by making the player complete one random flight or combat challenge to proceed onto the next chapter.
The worst aspect of Iron Man VR is its long load times. When the loading is done, the screen goes black for a couple more seconds to a minute as Tony sets the scene for what’s coming next. It’s nice to hear since it helps further his character development, but it felt like filler content to try keeping you engaged as the loading screen loads even more. Once you’ve rolled credits on Iron Man VR, you can replay story missions so you can score more research points to spend on upgrades. There are also different challenges and a special mission comes up which test your skills. From there, you can continue browsing Tony’s apartment, lifting weights, and raiding his fridge to eat a sandwich and cherries, as Iron Man does.
Despite some technical issues and its lackluster story, Iron Man VR is a great superhero VR game that could’ve been more. Like Marvel’s Spider-Man, it offers fun combat and traversal which make you feel like Iron Man, except the story isn’t as strong or engaging as Insomniac’s 2018 Spider-Man game. Iron Man VR had a ton of potential, but it felt bogged down at times by the PlayStation VR’s limitations and the ten-year-old Move controllers. Playing it makes me wish PlayStation will give the game the sequel it deserves, but on the next iteration of PlayStation VR. Camoflaj introduces some great ideas that aimed high, but fell flat in an experience that left me wanting more.