I’m Iron Man. You’re Iron Man. We’re all Iron Man in this game, which takes its namesake– and truth be told, we’re not sure how much else, so no intentional spoilers here– from the new summer action movie that hits theatres this Friday and is already being screened in Europe.
Iron Man 3 is an interesting game from Gameloft, in that it’s fun and addictive, but seems to possess a bad point for every good one it contains. It’s an endless runner, in a manner of speaking; of course, when one thinks of Iron Man, running usually isn’t involved, and so we have an endless flier. And for the most part, the game captures that sensation of being ol’ Shellhead rather well.
As you soar along various roads and across the sky, you collect tokens and fend off enemies from the evil organization known as Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.). As many games of this type do, you’re given various missions that somehow manage to feel as though they have more substance than those in this game’s contemporaries. Some are daily missions, only appearing after a certain time has elapsed, allowing you to take on such Iron Man foes as the Crimson Dynamo, the Living Laser, and even the mighty M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing).
Speaking of time, that’s the big drag in this game– that, and money. For as much as it tries to put you in the role of Tony Stark, you certainly don’t have his resources. There are numerous different types of Iron Man armor you can construct and enhance in the game, but these often require hitting a certain level of experience and having a certain number of the in-game currency, called “ISO-8.” If you want the good stuff or to just speed repairs and construction (and the more advanced the armor, the longer you have to wait– or pay to speed it up) along, you’ll either need to play for a long time, or open your wallet, which is likely far smaller than the Stark Industries bank account.
As an aside: You begin with the same armor seen in the trailers for the movie, the Mark XLII, but it doesn’t last long for being the image most associated with the film; instead, expect to spend a lot more time jetting around in the Mark III and Marv V armors from the first two films.
The gameplay itself is fast and furious. While you have the option of customizing the controls, choosing whether to use tilt steering or touchscreen (we recommend the latter) and how sensitive it is, certain obstacles feel ridiculously difficult to dodge– almost as though the game is tired of you playing. This results in a lot more crashing than one might expect from a superhero, though we suppose that may be in keeping with how often Tony’s armor gets trashed in the movies. But while he has JARVIS to help him dodge missiles and keep on top of what’s happening, the player has no such luck. It would be nice to finish a mission and actually be able to walk away from it, rather than waiting for Pepper Potts to call on Nick Fury to send a tow truck.
A further result of this is that while the game boasts three different backdrops for its randomly-generated levels, we’ve only been able to see one of them. Much like accomplishing some of the more advanced missions, we suspect that’s a privilege reserved for either the very skilled or the big spenders. It might have just been us, but the Mark V seemed to have better handling than the Mark III, leading us to suspect that other, pricier armors might have better handling as well, thus making the accomplishment of those missions easier to achieve.
Iron Man 3 is definitely a fun game, at least for a while before you hit the sort of walls described above. It was certainly more addictive than I expected, even despite the wait times attached to certain actions. But if you’re going into this expecting a free ride, you’ll soon be disappointed. Instead, you should only expect to be like Tony Stark when you’re ready to act like Tony Stark– starting with the signing of some checks.