Marvel's Iron Man VR represents another concerted effort from the comic book powerhouse to bring its characters to gaming in a meaningful way. Following the immense success of Marvel's Spider-Man, this PlayStation VR exclusive had a lot to live up to. The end result is a highly impressive action title that goes the distance to literally put you in the shoes of the titular superhero.
With a PS Move controller in each hand and the headset strapped to your noggin, you already feel geared up, and Iron Man fits the virtual reality mould very well indeed. Holding down the triggers fires the suit's thrusters, and you'll be propelled from wherever you're aiming your palms. To fly forward, for example, you hold the controllers down by your side, palms back; to fly up, hold your arms out in front of you, palms down. It's an instantly intuitive movement system, and between your hand positions and the direction you're facing, you'll be soaring through the sky and feeling invincible.
The cracking controls don't end there, either. Holding the Move controllers upright will allow you to aim and fire Iron Man's repulsors -- it's as simple as that. A little later in the game, and you'll unlock auxiliary weapons, mounted in the suit's forearms. To use these instead of the repulsors, simply aim with the Move wands pointed forward instead. Swapping between movement, repulsors, and your suit's special weapons is something to get used to, but it's a brilliantly fluid system that's great fun to use.
Good thing, too, because you'll be doing a lot of it. The majority of the game's missions see you suiting up for combat encounters against armies of repurposed Stark Industries attack drones. A mysterious new enemy, Ghost, has stolen Tony's old technology and is using it against him. Fortunately, you're Iron Man, and are more than capable of destroying the various enemy types. Most are up in the air with you, but they all employ different abilities to put you through your paces.
In addition to the aforementioned weapons at your disposal, you can rocket punch baddies by holding a button and throwing an actual swing, which is never not satisfying. A ground pound is performed in a similar fashion and is ideal against those pesky tank-like bots. Finally, you'll gain access to Unibeam, a powerful laser blast that can cut through your foes like butter. It takes some time to charge up, but it's useful when you're being overwhelmed.
All of this serves to make you feel like Iron Man, and it's where the game really sings. Developer Camouflaj has put a lot of effort into making the gameplay as intuitive and enjoyable as possible, and it shows. Levels are mostly huge, giving you ample room to fly freely and explore the game's systems. The downside to these open environments is frequent and lengthy loading screens, however, which can interrupt the flow of the campaign.
As we mentioned earlier, Ghost is one of the game's villains, and kickstarts the story. She destroys Tony's private jet, injuring Pepper Potts in the process. Tony employs both his current AI companion, Friday, as well as his old partner Gunsmith, in order to track down this ethereal foe. The writing favours quips over drama, but the narrative does throw some neat twists and turns, introducing new threats and taking the time to slow things down. Indeed, embodying Iron Man means becoming Tony Stark, and there are lots of moments throughout the campaign that see you out of the armour.
Between missions, you'll often be in his Malibu home where you can teleport to various spots and interact with a handful of things. Distractions like a pull-up bar and a basketball arcade game give you opportunities to cool off before tackling the next big objective. There's even a wall dedicated to Trophies; it'll be populated by the trinkets you've unlocked as you earn them, which is a nice detail. The main attraction in this space, though, is tinkering with the suit.
Using points earned from completing missions, you can craft numerous upgrades to the armour's systems and weapons. Whether it's installing a thruster mod to increase your top speed or equipping new auxiliary weapon types, there's a fair amount to play with. The weapons vary from a shotgun-like blast to a cluster bomb, and offer ways to deal with different situations. You can equip two of these special powers -- one on each arm -- to be prepared for anything. You also get access to two loadout slots, meaning you can create a duo of Iron Man builds -- one focused on speed and the other on power, for instance.
We mention this because of the game's optional flight and combat challenges. As you play through the game, you'll unlock races and enemy gauntlets to test your skills. Completing them earns you more points to put towards the suit, so they're worth exploring. Beware, though; these challenges are tough. There are times set by the developer that at first seem impossible to beat. With practice -- and the right upgrades installed -- they're doable, but difficult.
You can also replay missions if you're short on points, too. Each one ends with a results screen and a rating out of five that determines how many points you get, so there's value in revisiting levels if you think you can improve.
It's a robust game, then, and has a decent run time for a PSVR title. Impressive as it is, there are some drawbacks on the technical side. As well as all the loading, hectic fights may cause some frame rate issues, which is a no-no in virtual reality. Having said that, we never once felt any motion sickness during our play time. Motion tracking is generally good, but we did hit some snags on occasion. Our advice for the best experience would be to play standing up, if you can. It's a shame the experience couldn't have been a little smoother, particularly with regard to the loading, but the action makes up for all the waiting around.
Marvel's Iron Man VR delivers on the mission to make you feel like the armoured avenger. Some technical hiccups aside, this is a well rounded virtual reality title that takes advantage of the tech to immerse you in Tony Stark's world. It wins the day with fantastic controls and engaging combat, and the optional challenges will keep you busy once the story's wrapped up. If you don't mind waiting around in loading screens, this is a thoroughly enjoyable PSVR experience.