Iron Man is a pretty sweet movie. Not as complex or nuanced as The Dark Knight, or as emotional as Spider-Man, but it was definitely worth seeing. So, as a major studio tie-in to a blockbuster film, Iron Man: Aerial Assault has a pretty lofty standard to adhere to. We were hoping that the game would manage to include some of the movie’s humor, fun, and righteous explosions… and boy, did it ever. Iron Man: Aerial Assault is a fantastic effort on all counts.
In Iron Man: Aerial Assault, you play as Tony Stark, Mr. Iron Man himself, flying the unfriendly skies. As you might have guessed, the game is only concerned with high-altitude battles waged in the Iron Man suit; after a few practice rounds to familiarize yourself with your weaponry, it’s time to engage the enemy. You do so by using tilt controls to move a targeting circle around the screen in front of Iron Man.
Once you move the targeting circle over a target, you’ll either automatically fire small rockets to take out incoming missiles, or activate your hand beams to take out jets. The fire button’s on the right, and the dodge button’s on the left, in case you didn’t target a missile in time to intercept it. Larger enemies require a more powerful attack. Fortunately Tony and the suit’s on-board computer Jarvis (with whom you exchange pretty funny dialog) have a chest cannon you charge and deploy by holding down the fire button. While a little slower to shoot, it’s much stronger and gives you more points per fallen foe.
And so, armed with the tools of the arms-dealer-turned-vigilante-genius, you take on a slew of jets and bombers, which bombard you with missiles throughout each level. There is a bit of a learning curve here: you can control the sensitivity and the calibration of your iDevice’s tilt controls, but tilting the screen around to hit a specific mark with a moving circle isn’t easy. This is one of our only gripes–we would love to be able to control the targeting circle with a touch-screen option, although we imagine this would make the game too easy.
Once you get used to the controls, though, Iron Man: Aerial Assault becomes very addictive. Each level has dozens of enemies, which fly around in complex patterns, as well as several bosses. As the game moves on, the fights only get bigger, louder, faster and more intense. New weapons unlock to make the combat even more satisfying. Plus, there are medals to earn on each level for passing certain score thresholds, which boosts replay.
This game looks and sounds fantastic. The display remains clean and simple throughout, keeping the beautifully scaled graphics at the forefront of the experience. We were very impressed with the presentation overall, from the menu screens’ hexagonal theme (mirrored in your HUD) to the actual in-game animation, which is fluid and exciting. The Iron Man suit makes all kinds of crazy servo noises, and the weapons sound great. The music–sort of a hard-rock-pop sampler–is fairly engaging, but it does eventually get annoying.
Iron Man: Aerial Assault is a serious arcade action game that takes more than a few hours to get through completely. The game can get a little repetitive, seeing as how the enemies look similar and keep coming after you in the same way, but there is still lots of depth and replay here. It’s on the steeper side of the price range at $7.99, but its state-of-the-art presentation and gameplay means it is well worth every penny… especially considering the movie it was based on cost us $10 to see and lasted less than half as long! We think it’s a must-have.