Marvel’s Iron Man VR Review
You are Iron Man.
Prior to the release of the Iron Man film in 2008, Iron Man was typically viewed by mainstream audiences as a second tier comic book character in comparison to others like Spider-Man and Batman that had far more wide reaching appeal. That very quickly changed once Robert Downey Jr. stepped into the role and made Tony Stark one of the most beloved characters around. Not only is he set to be a lead in the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers game, but now players are getting to step into the armor themselves in Marvel’s Iron Man VR.
When PlayStation VR first launched, one of the premier titles on the platform was easily that of Batman Arkham VR. To this day, that game is still one of the most immersive and best showcases for PSVR. However, the very short runtime made it feel like more of a tech demo to show off the hardware than a full scale game. A lot of people assumed Marvel’s Iron Man VR would be similar with only a few missions and locations, but those assumptions could not be more wrong.
The game features a completely original story that starts off when Tony is just testing his suit out on the heels of stopping the manufacturing of weapons at Stark Industries. The story then jumps ahead years later after Iron Man has become the major hero that people know him to be as part of the Avengers. When riding in a plane with newly minted CEO of Stark Industries Pepper Potts and his AI companion Friday, the plane is taken over by one of his old weaponized drones through a mysterious character he had never met. This character ends up being Ghost, who people may recognize as the main antagonist of the movie Ant-Man and the Wasp. This leads to a rather incredible mission where you are flying and defeating drones alongside the plane, which really was reminiscent of the plane scene in Superman Returns. From there, Tony has to head across the globe to track Ghost and find out why she is after both Stark Industries and himself across the game’s 12 missions, 13 if you count the prologue. A lot of VR games are exclusively focused on the gameplay with minimal story, but having a full scale original story to accompany the game really elevates it to another level.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR starts off with a prologue when Tony is testing out the flight suit, which serves as an excellent introduction to the basic flying controls that are of the utmost importance in this game. There is really no debate that the PlayStation VR is the most hampered of the mainstream VR headsets when it comes to controllers, as PSVR still utilizes the very limited PlayStation Move controllers. Headsets like the Oculus have received much improved options over the years controller wise, but somehow Marvel’s Iron Man VR actually uses the PlayStation Move controllers to their full abilities to where you actually feel like you are Iron Man.
After calibrating the Move controllers and your location, you are ready to jump right into action with the training segment at the start of the game. Each of the Move controllers serves as one of your hands, with the back trigger controlling your thrusters. This means you can aim in each direction and Iron Man will react accordingly to exactly how you position your hands. The flight controls could easily have broken this game if they were not handled well, but it feels as real as any other PSVR game in that sense. These aren’t going to just be little bursts of flight from one spot to another, but the game has you scouring different locations that require precision that is very present with the control scheme.
While you are in control, you have 360 degree movement available to you most of the time, whether you are playing while standing or seated. This can be done by either actually turning around physically with the headset, which can get complicated due to the attached cords, or through the usage of one of the face buttons. The default option known as Snap Turn moves the camera with larger jumps in each direction, but it seemed to work better when choosing the Smooth Turning option where you hold down the button to move the camera. This is really going to be one of personal choice, as one or the other may have a better chance at making the player get motion sickness. There is no question the game may cause your stomach to drop a few times when you are getting used to the flying around, but I personally never really felt motion sick while playing the game. It is definitely not recommended to play the full game in one sitting though, as that would probably be an unwise decision. The game does have some very long load times between chapters, so that is also a good time to take a rest while the game loads back up.
Flying around the different locations in Marvel’s Iron Man VR also give you a great view of the game’s visuals. Like with the controllers, PSVR is typically on the lower end of VR visuals, but this game looks really good most of the time. Even though there definitely isn’t as much detail in some areas, most of the environments look just fine as you’re making your way through each locale and does not take anything away from the experience in any real way.
Actually feel like you are Iron Man
Iron Man doesn’t just fly around all the time and neither will you in Marvel’s Iron Man VR. He has an arsenal of weapons for you to try out in the game, which will become very important if you want to stay alive. While positioning your hands like you do to fly, you can also aim your palm and fire repulsor blasts at enemies. This feels very natural in action, though it can be easy to get your hands crossed up with the camera when in intense battles with lots of enemies. By holding one of the face buttons, you can also punch forward, though this felt a little off at times compared to the other weapons. You are not just limited to these basic weapons at your disposal either, as the game features an upgrade system that allows for a good bit of versatility.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR allows you to customize your armor in a number of different areas, which you can do from Stark’s garage. From here, you can pick areas of the suit you want to upgrade and then spend research points that you earn in each mission and in a few other ways. You are graded at the end of each mission, which decides how many credits you are given. This means you will want to retry various missions until you reach the max amount of credits so that you can unlock everything in the garage. The different areas of the suit that you can choose to upgrade include the chassis, the left and right auxiliary, and more. For each of these areas, you can spend the research credits to unlock a piece that can be placed in them. For instance, you can upgrade your flying speed by getting the right part to add to the thrusters, while you can also unlock a number of different weapons to use like the Smart Missile and Scatter Shot. Having a variety of options in front of you also adds to the game’s replayability by allowing you to try out many different suit builds throughout the game.
The inside of the suit is not the only thing you can upgrade either, as you also have a number of alternate color designs you can unlock for the suit as well. These require you to complete specific tasks in the game that go towards unlocking them. Some of them only require you to pull off a tough task one time, while a couple of them are rewarded after doing things like destroying 250 enemies with auxiliary weapons. This may not be all that important since you are playing in a first person point of view, but it’s still something that is cool to have included nonetheless. Also not all that important are the few mini-games found within the garage, such as playing basketball or hitting a punching bag, that somehow are very addicting and a fantastic addition to the game that some players may miss entirely.
Major first party VR releases for PlayStation VR are pretty few and far between, with the most recent new releases being last year’s Blood and Truth and Everybody’s Golf VR. Sony has proven they are still very much invested in PSVR, even with the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, and Marvel’s Iron Man VR is the latest indication of this. People were worried that the game would be just a short VR experience to show off the hardware, but Marvel’s Iron Man VR goes many steps further by being a fully fledged game at 8-10 hours with fantastic VR integration that is easily one of the best PSVR releases without question.
While many players may have not used their PlayStation VR in awhile, Marvel’s Iron Man VR is without a doubt the game to get people to dust it off and play again. Far more than a tech demo, Marvel’s Iron Man VR actually makes you feel like you are flying around and firing repulsor blasts in one of the most immersive VR experiences to date.
Marvel's Iron Man VR
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Developed By: Camouflaj
- Genre: Shooter
- US Release Date: July 3, 2020
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "While many players may have not used their PlayStation VR in awhile, Marvel's Iron Man VR is without a doubt the game to get people to dust it off and play again. Far more than a tech demo, Marvel's Iron Man VR actually makes you feel like you are flying around and firing repulsor blasts in one of the most immersive VR experiences to date."