Iron Man 2 has a completely different story than the film. In this game, you play the role of Iron Man (Tony Stark) or War Machine (Lt. Colonel James Rhodes) and use their super suits to stop the evil schemes of the rivals of Stark Enterprises. These include Hammer Industries, the Roxxon Corporation, and Russian separatists. The story is pretty flimsy and forgettable, but I was thankful for references to Ultimo and other well-known Iron Man plot lines. While it is odd that the game associated with the film doesn’t follow its marketing, people who are new to Iron Man will appreciate quick summaries into the Stark Universe that might make them want to find out more.
Graphics are very average, with bland textures, lifeless characters, and sparse background detail. The graphics as reasonable visual approximations of Iron Man and his enemies. Iron Man 2’s graphics are bland and boring, but they are by no means bad. Inconsistent animations happen occasionally, but feel like a stutter more than an obvious flaw.
The music is generic but functional and the sound effects do the requisite exploding and blowing up of stuff real well. You really can’t expect more. The voice acting is hit or miss. Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson hit the right notes and Paul Bettany as Jarvis has the same detached presence that is perfect for an A.I supercomputer. He might sound like he’s phoning the lines in, but it fits really well for the character. Natasha is lifeless, just as much as her hair, with no visible emoting or nuance behind her voice. Robert Downey Jr. didn’t lend his voice to this game, but the VA cast is often uncannily similar. You can notice the difference if you pay close attention, but even without being constantly Downey like, it is still a good performance.
Gameplay is a pretty standard 3rd person action game, artificially padding its variety through selectable weapons and abilities, when only a handful is necessary to make it through the game. The same goes for the two selectable characters, as while Iron Man and War Machine have different weapons, they function the same and are designed for the same purposes. One would think that repulsor blasts would be better for some enemies than a machine gun, but both serve as the requisite quick fire, low damage weapon rather than extensions of how each technology works with the suit.
You select either character and make your way across each stage towards multiple goals helpfully illuminated by waypoints. Most points involve destroying objects with the occasional button mashy hacking minigame thrown in to briefly mix things up. This style of gameplay is completely familiar and endemic of this genre of games more than a flaw of Iron Man 2.
Some of the boss encounters require little more than quick maneuvering and sustained fire to defeat. But it is the encounter with the Crimson Dynamo that is likely to cause you to stop playing. It is just a poorly designed boss battle with all the flaws common in 3rd person action games. The camera doesn’t give you an ideal view of the action, the enemy is faster than you, and they can hit you from offscreen suddenly.
As above, challenge is all over the place in Iron Man 2, and this was from playing on the default difficulty of normal. Checking on the other difficulties reveals that the A.I doesn’t get smarter or better at fending off your attacks; they just do more damage and you less, but with practice, you’ll be able to deal with it.
Most of Iron Man 2’s difficulty is based on your weapon choice. While your punch combos and finishing moves are useful in quickly dealing lots of enemies, you’ll could to rely on your long-range missiles to deal with all threats. Combined with quick evasive maneuvers and regenerating shields, hit and run tactics rule the day. If you enjoy this style of gameplay/strategy, Iron Man should be fairly easy to you.
Replay value is again dependent on how much you enjoy the game and are willing to put up with some curious (but typical) design choices. I can see myself having some fun with the different type of weapons each playthrough, and most function different enough visually to make it feel like a different experience. Take your time with the customization options and you’ll come to enjoy it on subsequent playthroughs. Being a short game also lends itself well to replay.
Iron Man 2 is a typical movie based game and your mileage will vary depending on how much you like the character and are willing to deal with this very typical style of game. This is a game full of genre conventions but it is not unfun. There is NOTHING in the game that causes random slowdown, total freezing or suchlike. And to me, a game being literally unplayable is often the only way it can truly be "bad." And Iron Man 2 isn’t bad, just derivative.
- Ugly Bob