Joystiq impressions: Iron Man (Xbox 360)

Ludwig Kietzmann
L. Kietzmann|04.01.08

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Ludwig Kietzmann
April 1st, 2008
Joystiq impressions: Iron Man (Xbox 360)

Of course Iron Man is yet another movie cash-in, a title that will sit on the shelf and call to you as you march out the cinema with glitzy, superhero shenanigans still fresh in your memory. But aside from all that, wanting to play as the eponymous, metal-clad cad is a desire that doesn't just come from the foul wells of corporate synergy and marketing. Nigh indestructible and capable of dishing out destruction from the palm of his hand, it's no challenge to see the appeal in controlling Iron Man -- a literal can of whoop-ass.

It does come as a major concern then, when his in-game movements display more than a little clumsiness. It's not entirely Iron Man's fault -- he's a flying tank that performs best when it maintains momentum and moves in a straight line -- but the 3rd-person action shown to us by a Sega representative seemed hampered by the controls and camera. While there's a great sense of speed and freedom conveyed by soaring across a desert, it's only when Iron Man cools his jets and starts punching things that issues arise.
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In the category of things to be punched, you'll encounter enemy tanks, helicopters, turrets and other contraptions that litter the game's large, open-ended environments. Stationary or slow-moving objects are easiest to deal with, as Iron Man can employ his projectile weapons from afar before delivering a close-up, contextual coup de grâce which, much like those found in God of War, allow him to his tear enemies apart. Replace the blood with showers of sparks and you'll have a pretty good idea of how those actions work. There's also a modicum of forethought involved in these assaults, with Iron Man being able to allocate his energy to four different aspects of his suit, namely thrusters, weapons, shield and melee ability.

When approaching nimbler targets such as fighter jets, Iron Man appears to become a bit more unwieldy. Attempts to grab or fire at a circling jet seemed severely hampered by an inability to lock on to the target and keep it in the camera's view. As annoying as the constant reorientation is likely to be for players, we imagine it's much worse for poor Tony Stark who's spinning around in an enclosed, metal suit. GAME OVER: You drowned in your own vomit.

That isn't to say Sega's take on Iron Man constantly evokes nausea. His in-game model is clearly the graphical star, and an array of different suits is sure to please the superhero fashion police. Naturally, the game's story and environments all go "beyond the movie" (look for that phrase on the back of the box), with developer Secret Level delving into Marvel's catalogue of comics for additional characters. Provided the movie isn't complete rubbish, it'll be hard to begrudge fans who just want to grab an incoming missile and hurl it back like an explosive javelin.

Still, if one were to sever the Iron Man connection and examine this as a straight-up action title, the apparent targeting and camera flaws would push it into a wishy-washy mass of overlooked titles. There's still time to address these concerns, but with the movie demanding companionship across all current platforms in May, not that much time.
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