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Iron Man

For: PSP   Also on: DS, Mobile

The one man army goes portable

Product: Iron Man | Developer: Sega Studios | Publisher: Sega | Format: PSP | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Iron Man PSP, thumbnail 1
There was a time when superhero movies were viewed as silly and overtly camp; in the days before big-budget CGI special effects, the best you could honestly hope for when your favourite comic champion made the awkward transition to the big screen was some talentless actor suspended from wires in tight-fitting Lycra - not exactly what you'd describe as 'heroic'.

In recent times the superhero movie has undergone a startling resurgence; not a week seems to pass without another comic book adaptation hitting the cinema screens. Marvel's Iron Man is the latest candidate and, true to form, an 'Official Videogame' has been swiftly commissioned to accompany the release of this likeable popcorn flick.

Stepping into the metal shoes of reformed multi-millionaire arms inventor Tony Stark, it's your job to bring peace and justice to the world by destroying all the wicked weapons you've created and stopping the evil plans of former business accomplice Obadiah Stane, who not only sports a shiny hairless head but has a rather nasty maniacal streak as well.

You see, after being somewhat irked by Stark's sudden development of a conscience, Stane has amassed a considerable array of powerful weaponry including tanks, planes and other military vehicles. Thankfully Stark is able to counter this threat by calling upon a plethora of gadgets concealed within his distinctive red and yellow 'Iron Man' exoskeleton.

Given the action-packed nature of the plot, it should come as no surprise to find that the Iron Man: The Official Videogame involves a lot of wanton destruction and plenty of large explosions. The main attraction is unquestionably the feature-packed bionic suit that Spark inhabits; not only can it fly but it also possesses some seriously powerful firepower, most notably the hand-mounted 'Repulsor' gun, which will be instantly familiar to diehard fans of the comic book.

To back up this renowned weapon, Stark also packs other offensive options such as missiles, machine guns, pulse rifles and even his fists, which are powerful enough to punch a hole through metal. He probably even has a can-opener tucked away in that suit somewhere.

Spread out over 13 missions, Iron Man sees the player performing a variety of tasks in order to complete each assignment. There are the traditional 'destroy this target' tasks as well as escort missions where you have to defend other vehicles from enemy attack. The objectives are never so complicated that they leave you wondering what to do next, but at the same time they're a little predictable and unadventurous.

Graphically Iron Man is an admirable attempt to shoehorn the lush visuals of the console versions into the PSP's screen but the poor portable just isn't up to the task; objects are ill-defined and badly rendered, animation is unconvincing and the levels are sparse. Particle and fog effects are mercifully used to mask the shortcomings of the game engine but even then it's obvious that Iron Man isn't going to win any awards when it comes to promoting graphical excellence on Sony's handheld.

Another more serious issue manifests itself when you attempt to control the titular superhero. Again, the developers have tried to stay true to the console versions by adopting a 'twin stick' approach, with the analogue nub controlling Stark's movement and the facia buttons his aim. The shoulder triggers control flight and weaponary.

Sadly, the system fails to grant the degree of command necessary to make the game enjoyable. Having a lead character that not only hovers but flies creates numerous issues when it comes to accurately managing his movements and the game often calls for swift changes of speed and direction, both of which are made frustratingly difficult by the inept controls.

Taking this into account, it's probably a good thing that the assailants in Iron Man are about as hard as chocolate mousse. Even when you're totally swarmed by foes they seem to inflict only minimal damage and don't really represent much of a threat to our wealthy superhero. This removes much of the challenge and suspense from the game, because whenever you fly into a combat situation you can be fairly confident that you're going to be the only man standing at the end. It's a real shame because when the combat does work, it's fairly exhilarating.

Things are slightly more encouraging when it comes to the audio side of things, with a suitably epic musical score and voice acting by Robert Downey Jr himself helping to lend the game a much-needed air of authenticity. The sound effects that accompany the action are fairly lacklustre however.

Iron Man certainly isn't the first Hollywood videogame adaptation to disappoint and it most definitely won't be the last, but the fact that it's such a crushingly average piece of electronic entertainment is made all the more disheartening when you consider the sheer potential of the subject matter. The concept of Iron Man facing off against an entire army - pirouetting through the air and engaging fighter jets in deadly dogfights - should get even the most stony-faced videogamer's pulse racing, but sadly this has been squandered on what is a particularly underwhelming action title that fails to bring anything new or exciting to the genre.
Iron Man
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 14 May 2008
Visually disappointing, lacking in challenge and generally not that much fun, Iron Man singularly fails to communicate the excitement found in its big screen counterpart
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