With the PlayStation 4 and in turn, the PSVR reaching its climax, generally, games tend to take advantage of its given hardware to the fullest. Unfortunately, when it comes to Marvel’s Iron Man VR, the title shows the hardware limitations rather than embellishing its strengths.
Ironman VR on the PlayStation 4 features what appears to be an original, albeit familiar story, one in which Tony Stark has just relinquished his commitment in the productions of weapons, giving full reign of command to his lover and secretary, Pepper Potts. Of course, things quickly go awry, as the main antagonist of the game rears her cybernetic head. Long story short, Ghost, the villain of Ironman VR wants to exact her revenge against Tony for the mishandling of his weapons by the countless military and government powers that have relied on Stark Industries.
Story beats within Ironman VR take place between levels and in essence, give the player the ability to leisurely explore some iconic Marvel set pieces, such as Stark Tower and the SHIELD carrier. Exploration within the levels themselves is done through the tried-and-tested, point-and-warp method, which is fine, especially for a game that only uses the dated PlayStation Move controllers.
The actual combat-oriented levels within Ironman VR all take place in medium-sized maps that feature large skyboxes, giving the player ample room to fly around, which probably is the best feeling element of the game. The player uses they’re head to steer Ironman which feels rather good, once accustomed to the lack of analogue input. Turning is done via the square and triangle face buttons of the PlayStation Move controller and can be adjusted to be instant or gradual, depending on the individuals’ VR comfort level.
Unfortunately, the biggest draw of an Ironman VR experience, the combat, feels flat and uninspired after a few sessions and quickly becomes a slog through generic drones and other hijacked Stark-tech. Thankfully, weapon variety in Ironman VR is at least, well-realized, giving players’ access to Tony Stark’s full arsenal, including the unibeam attack, which builds up over time and can be used primarily as a kill-screen item. My favourite attack, however, takes the form of a punch that can be used to not only knock-back enemies but also pull off the iconic Ironman landing sequence in specific areas throughout the game.
Unlocks are handled rather well in the game, with powerups and additional augments requiring upgrade points which can be earned by clearing challenge levels, story missions and just exploring and interacting with the world.
The two most significant issues with Ironman VR are the limitations imposed by its reliance on the PlayStation Move controllers, something that was initially designed for the PlayStation 3. the other big problem, is graphic fidelity. Now, I don’t expect VR games, especially a console-exclusive to look as good as a traditional AAA title, but there have been titles in the past that have proved the PSVR’s capabilities (Resident Evil 7, Moss, Astrobot).
Ironman VR doesn’t look terrible. However, it is very inconsistent, with non-combat areas looking substantially better than the combat-based levels. A good example of this can be found early on, around the third level, in which the player transitions from Tony’s suite to a level set in Shanghai.
Instead of a dense cityscape, the Shanghai level in Ironman VR is reduced to a cluster of generic-low-poly buildings that just barely pass off as a believable futuristic metropolitan setting. The inconsistent level design paired with controls that work but lack any nuance, ultimately makes Ironman VR feel clunky and unfinished, despite the game clearly having moments that show the love that went into crafting it while being faithful to the Marvel property.
At the end of the day, Marvel’s Iron Man VR is a decent game, but one that will only likely appeal to a younger audience or die-hard fans of the property. Ironman VR sets a good foundation for a solid sequel that can take full advantage of next-gen hardware, addressing all the shortcomings imposed by its current-gen incarnation.