When Batman: Arkham VR released at launch with PSVR, it gave a real insight into what a super hero video game could feel like, especially for those just dipping their toes into VR experiences. Even though it was a short game, looking at your hands and seeing the Batgloves, and looking in a mirror to see the Batmask, was surreal, going to the bathroom and seeing the… Anyway, a few years have passed and we have a higher expectation of VR games, both in length and depth.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is having a crack at being the full VR game you always wanted.
The biggest make or break aspect of Marvel’s Iron Man VR is obviously the flying. If it feels clunky or the movement makes you feel sick, then the whole game is a flop because it’s unplayable. Somehow the clever developers have managed to make the flying feel fantastic. There’s a knack to it that takes a while to master, but for the most part it works how you would expect. Put your hand behind you and fire your thrusters to go forward, fire them down to go up, fire them left to strafe right, etc.
C’mon, we’ve all seen Iron Man.
And, having watched Iron Man in so many movies at this point, you know what to expect and the game plays like that. The other thing you need to do, while flying of course, is to shoot at enemies, ideally hitting them, and this is where the real challenge comes in. Using your thrusters to move, shoot, then keep moving is the right kind of tough. It’s fluid enough that you feel you should be able to do it from the first try, but takes a while to actually get good at it. Basically you have to, as legions of Dark Souls fans have said countless times, git gud.
One of the other concerns, which is one with every VR title is whether it makes you feel sick. I didn’t often, but if I tried to do too much movement changes at once I didn’t feel 100%. Appropriate breaks are a must with all VR games, people, I can’t stress that enough. But if you handle most PSVR games then you should be fine, which is that much more of an achievement when you consider the kind of movement we’re dealing with here.
One problem I have had with games where the action comes at you from all angles, is that I seem to find myself turned around in the real world. Even when I consciously try to keep my feet planted I somehow wind up facing the other way and only realise it when the camera loses sight of the move controllers. Well, the team at Camouflaj has solved this one with a simple system; when you turn away from the TV, it brings up some arrows to point you towards the TV again. So simple but so useful.
Now I just need it in real life.
The biggest issue with the game is the amount of borderline repetitive content. The majority of your time will be flying and killing basically the same four enemy robot types. Given the nature of the game, and in VR, I’m not overly fussed about this. Flying around killing enemies is fun as hell, and too many types with different weaknesses could be overwhelming.
This only gives limited play time to the free play modes and time trials, as that gets super repetitive. The storyline isn’t super deep, so I won’t spoil it here, though it is easily entertaining enough to justify the time. We aren’t talking Avengers: Endgame level story here, more like early 2000s comic book movie story. But hey, it’s still fun.
One thing you need to get right at the start is the calibration by standing where you plan to play. I thought I was playing Fantastic Four for a bit, and couldn’t figure out why Iron Man had such stretchy arms. After an hour of fumbling around with battling, I restarted and the game got heaps easier.
You also need to make sure you are ready for some serious load times. There are plenty of loading screens, and they are fairly lengthy. Thanks to the medium of VR you have to sit there and wait for the bar to fill up which is so much more excruciating than in normal games where you can look at your phone and the time zips by.
At the end of the day, Marvel’s Iron Man VR is exactly what I wanted from it. A fun story wrapped around gameplay that is as easy to learn as it is fun to master, even if I wouldn’t exactly call myself a master. Am I Iron Man? Probably not. But if snappy, flying fun in a well-crafted VR experience is what you want, then you have found it here.
It may not be a system seller, but it’s another great feather in a pretty awesome cap of PSVR exclusives.