Since its reveal, Marvel’s Iron Man VR has always stood out amongst the library of PSVR experiences. After the success of other Marvel Virtual Reality outings such as the two promotional Spider-Man VR demos. I was incredibly excited to get my hands on a fully fledged game for one of my favourite Marvel characters. As development progressed, it had a delay due to the ongoing pandemic, but eventually the demo shared only at events was released publicly. I previously looked at the demo and thoroughly enjoyed it, but how does the full experience expand on the preview? And more importantly, is Iron Man VR worth your time?
The gameplay is, without a doubt, the main selling point for Iron Man VR. It has been the highlight of marketing in both trailers and previews. Recreating the feeling of piloting a 200-pound metal suit at high speeds was never going to be an easy feat and at first it can certainly feel suitably heavy. Even after the demo for the first few chapters, I struggled to stay in the air and attack enemies at the same time.
The levels were never impossible to beat but due to my slow reactions, they were nonetheless frustrating. Thankfully, practice really does make perfect. By the final chapter, I had mastered the control scheme and was able to make quick turns and loops while kiting the enemies together for a final rocket punch takedown.
Creating combos such as this was encouraged by the game and it was hard not to be tempted by the vast arsenal of weapons. Positioning the two Move controllers to simulate the direction of the palm thrusters is one half of the flight controls. The other half involves looking in the direction in which you want to fly. This made flight an easy, immersive and enjoyable experience, though turning was sometimes too difficult. An option to turn automatically, when at high speeds, with a simple head turn would have been very much appreciated.
Enemies in the full game are not much more varied than they are in the demo, which was dissapointing, especially considering the huge weapon variety available. A vast array of sub-weapons can be used in any combination, with one type on each wrist. To use them, rather than aiming with your palm, you point your hand down and aim with your wrist. Seeing the weapon seamlessly pop out of the suit was incredibly satisfying and at first this system worked great. However, when aiming at enemies below you, it seemed to default to aiming with the wrist, even when my palm was out flat. I can only assume that aiming straight down was messing with the motion sensors, so doubt this was intended. Eventually I came to use a ground pound on enemies below but wish it had been easier to rain down a hail of missiles on my foes.
The gameplay in Iron Man VR is extremely polished, and is truly a craft to perfect. By the end of the game you will be soaring like the titular superhero of the game’s namesake. I have no doubt anyone can be immersed and satisfied by this unique, thematically fitting control scheme. Enemies are quick, and fast movements are needed for boss fights and dodging incoming projectiles. With a little time and upgrades, though, nothing will be able to stand in your way.
Story and Characters
The story in a VR experience is arguably just as important as the gameplay, with it lending a great deal towards overall immersion. Thankfully, the story of Iron Man VR is almost as solid as the gameplay itself, and provides a good foundation for the experience to stand upon.
Players control the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark, as his past returns to haunt him. Without delving into spoiler territory, rest assured the story is enjoyable and engaging, with a few genuinely surprising twists. Of course, the story would be nothing without the game’s stellar characters.
Joining Stark for the majority of the campaign are his two AI companions, the familiar Friday and the rambunctious Gunsmith. These two characters are an excellent example of the theme of the narrative: change. Friday represents the person Stark wants to become while Gunsmith is the literal embodiment of who he once was, and now needs to be once more. The use of predominantly AI characters over the course of the campaign amplifies the loneliness that Stark feels and the distance he unintentionally creates between himself and those around him.
Human characters do make an appearance as well, with familiar face Nick Fury being an immediate favourite. One of the interactive cutscenes within the game showcases the intimate friendship that he and Stark share. This is something that to my knowledge has never been explored in previous comic or movie iterations. This surprising friendship was a delight to see, and the characters seemed to share a genuine camaraderie — though perhaps it was just Nick trying to get a discount on his next Helicarrier.
The story and characters within Iron Man VR are, without a doubt, the strongest and most genuine I have seen yet in the PSVR catalogue. Both compliment each other excellently and its clear a huge amount of time and effort has gone into them. The writing has some genuinely funny moments and the interactivity that is weaved into the narrative, even if it has very little overall effect, is a much appreciated addition.
What sets apart this title from other, arguably better, Marvel games is its use of the unique VR perspective. I’ve already gone into detail about the excellent controls and how the headset plays into flight, but it has a more static, and more immersive role to play in the game. In just a few of the chapters, the suit will be grounded as you explore an interior location from a first person perspective. The power is out, or simply nonexistent, with nothing but the torch on your helmet to light up your surroundings. Sounds like a horror game, doesn’t it?
I wish I could say more without spoiling but it is in these few chapters where the game truly stands out. The player becomes a direct part of the cinematic experience and, especially when combined with the rest of the gameplay, is an experience truly unlike the rest of the PSVR catalogue.
Iron Man VR is simply one of the best games currently available on the PSVR. It is such a shame that this experience has been delivered so close to the end of this generation, but it is nonetheless a shining example of what can be done with the PSVR hardware. Its excellent story and characters paired with its unique and fine tuned gameplay delivers a superhero experience unlike any other. Unfortunately it has a few rough edges, with its lengthy loading screens certainly being one of them.
To put it simply, Iron Man VR is well worth its RRP and one of the best examples of what can be done with the PSVR. It is a thrilling and challenging game, and with its wealth of content and lengthy campaign, it is worthy of the Iron Man title. I look forward to seeing what will be done with the PSVR as we enter the next generation of gaming, but for now I can wholeheartedly recommend Iron Man VR and its excellent demo to anyone with a PSVR headset.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is available on PlayStation 4
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