I’m always a little wary when it comes to splashing out cash for VR games. They’re often pricey and rarely live up to my expectations. I’m a huge superhero geek though, so when I saw the Iron Man VR demo was available on the PlayStation Store, I knew I had to give it a go.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I admit I felt a chill when my vision was encompassed by Iron Man’s Heads Up Display allowing me to live out my childhood fantasy of being a superhero.
You can check out the trailer below:
The story takes place several years into Iron Man’s career. Stark Industries no longer manufactures weapons for mass production and instead puts his time and money into building up his personal armoury. Pretty much every video game has a Big Bad, and in this one, it’s Ghost, the supervillain hacker. Ghost is a familiar name in both the comics and the MCU, though it is unclear which rendition this version is based on. This Ghost is a she like the one we see in Ant-Man and the Wasp, but in terms of characteristics and placement as an Iron Man villain, this Ghost seems closer to that of the comic book version. The demo doesn’t really touch on it, but Ghost appears to have a vendetta of sorts against Stark, using the man’s own tech against him to destroy everything he has built, which seems to be the basis of the game. I’m assuming we’ll find more about her background and motives once the full game is released.
The demo itself is split into two parts, the first being an initial hands-on tutorial that allows you to get into the hang of controlling the suit. You make use of both move controllers in this game, so that is something to consider before buying. Unlike many VR games, the move controllers are required rather than simply being compatible with the game (Iron Man VR bundles are available to pre-order, which contain everything you need to get started from the game and motion controllers to a pricier option that included the headset and camera).
You’re guided through the basics, the first of which is flight. It’s fun, if a little disorientating, at first. Flight is controlled by angling the move controllers down and pulling the triggers to activate the thrusters in your gloves. A series of rings appear and you’re required to pass through them to move onto the next stage. It is noticeably easier to fly up than it is down, and I had to backtrack a fair few times as I got the hang of the flight controls. I’ve played through the demo twice now, and I found it a lot easier the second time around, though I’ll admit I still crashed a few times.
Once you’re at least somewhat comfortable with the flight controls, you move onto blasting things with your repulsors, which is pretty damn cool, though you should probably keep one thruster on while you shoot or you’ll start to lose height. It’s also worth noting that your repulsors overheat, so you might have to alternate between gloves. If blasting isn’t your thing, maybe a thruster-powered sucker-punch is more up your alley because that’s an alternative, especially effective while you’re waiting for you gloves to cool down.
After you’re shown the ins and outs of using the Iron Man suit, you get to put everything you’ve learned to the test by running through a short, timed course. If you’re not happy with your time, you can always replay it until you are. I played a handful of times before I was satisfied with my time. Once I got to the point where I could navigate the course relatively easily without backtracking to hit the rings I’d missed, my time was practically halved.
After the training portion of the demo concludes, we’re thrown several years into the future where a Stark jet is attacked by drones under the control of supervillain Ghost. There’s a pretty tense moment when you’re free-falling as the Iron Man suit attaches itself to you (this game is a definite no-go if you’re afraid of heights). You’re then expected to defend the Stark jet from the attacking drones. With drones attacking from all angles, the combat is pretty hectic, and as there seems to be no way of blocking drone blasts, you need to try and manoeuvre yourself out of the way while fighting them off with a combination of repulsor blasts and punches while also repairing the jet – a nice change of pace from the at times frantic combat.
At this point, I can only comment on the demo, but the gameplay was fun and engaging. It was immersive. I genuinely felt like I was Iron Man, which is exactly what the game professed to provide. There were only a few moments when I wasn’t actively doing something, which was a definite bonus. Nothing irks me more than getting all excited for an immersive VR game, only to just stand there and have no control over the goings-on of the game – I suppose that is what differentiates a game from an experience. It would have been a whole lot less satisfying if I had been expected to just stand there and watch events unfold rather than being an active participant.
It was the small things that made me grin – small, simple things, like picking up Stark’s tablet and flicking through the news articles on the screen before flinging it across the jet just to see if I could. The tablet kept reappearing in its original place a few seconds later, but I could do it. It was the way Pepper Potts came barging in yelling at me in such a way that I genuinely felt sheepish. It was the way I got to open my suitcase and examine the Iron Man suit.
The game plays well with the VR tracking working like a treat. The controls are fluid, even if they take a little getting used to. Flying feels good, which was the main thing I was concerned about going in. An Iron Man game, especially a VR one, needs to have spot-on flight controls to be a success.
The controls are smooth, if a little difficult to get used to, but once you are used to them, flying is fun. Combat is a little hectic at times, but if anything, that only added to my enjoyment. What’s a superhero’s life if not hectic? Despite this, none of the controls felt overly complicated, which allowed me to immerse myself without putting too much thought into whether or not I was pressing the right buttons to do what I wanted. I’ll admit it took a while, but now, the controls are practically second nature.
Unsurprisingly, we don’t get to experience this in the demo, but the full game boasts the ability to customise the Iron Man’s suit and upgrade his abilities. A recent trailer shows the ability to upgrade and allocate and add additional weapons to different auxiliary and augment slots. At a glance, the customisation options appear to be quite extensive and can be tailored to suit individual preference and gameplay style. Additionally, there are a number of purely cosmetic options, 4 of which are included when you pre-order the game.
All in all, the demo was a well-paced, enjoyable preview of what’s to come, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the full game. I do, however, wonder if the novelty of flying around and punching things will wear off after you’ve done it for more than an hour – hopefully, the full game features enough variety to keep me engaged throughout. For the price of the full game, however, only fans of the superhero genre will likely get enough enjoyment out of it to make the purchase worthwhile.
Camouflaj announced the game back in March 2019 – the first announcement of a new game since 2012 – and after COVID-19-related delays, the full game is set to release on July 3rd.