First Impressions — Marvel's Iron Man VR

May 28, 2020
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I am Iron Man — or when I’m playing Iron Man VR, I feel like I am; and that’s important. Such a statement might sound obvious, but being able to immediately hook the player and nail that first impression could be the difference between success and failure for a game like this.

Cruising through the clouds at breakneck speeds before stopping to hover and take out a target or two before rocketing off again felt so good — more than that, it felt natural. Much like Tony Stark himself it took me a little while to get used to piloting the armoured Avenger, but after five minutes of flailing around and crashing myself into rocks, it all clicked. A quick adjustment here and a tweak to my positioning there and it became almost effortless to zoom around with ease before rocketing away to my next objective marker. 

Camouflaj passed its first test and with flying colours. A combination of accessibility and simplicity creates a fantastic first impression. If you’ve read an Iron Man comic or seen the films, you know how to play Iron Man VR. Ok, that might be a slight oversimplification. However, it really does feel like second nature. Your two PS Move controllers represent your right and left hands and, in turn, Iron Man’s right and left thrusters. Therefore to propel yourself up, you point your PS Move controllers down and push both triggers, to blast forward you push your arms back, your head position determines your direction, and you can stop and move around whilst hovering by pointing your hands left and right. Shooting is controlled on the controller’s main face button, whilst Sony’s sacred symbols allow you to turn in place and activate your melee attack. Anything more complicated and Iron Man VR may have been dead in the water.

Following a quick tutorial to get used to the controls, I’m thrust into a section of the full game. Tony Stark chats to his A.I. assistant F.R.I.D.A.Y. as the wider world carries on in the background and we’re swiftly introduced to Pepper Potts — Tony Stark’s long-time assistant who has, unbeknownst to her, just become CEO of Stark Industries. It’s just a taste of the original story in Iron Man VR but it hit all the right notes, with great voice acting and presentation, feeling close enough to what casual fans know whilst being distinctly its own thing. 

It’s from this starting point that we begin our first encounter, diving out of our crashing plane to stop an attack from an unknown enemy. With action now being delivered at a pace not set by myself, things got a little hectic, I got turned around quite a lot and, whilst everything still felt natural, the urgency made it much harder. However, once I got my bearings again I took down the enemies with relative ease and completed the other tasks asked of me (putting out a fire, opening a hatch and rescuing Pepper) fairly easily. 

There’s no denying that doing all of this was fun — much like it had been during the initial tutorial — however it did feel a little shallow. Herein lies my concern: Will Iron Man VR hold up over several hours? The basics are there but at the moment they feel very, well, basic. Hopefully, the full game will see all of these concepts established and with much more to do, because the promise is certainly there. 

Much more than a simple, arcade-like, virtual reality experience tied to an exciting license, if handled correctly, Iron Man VR could well be a breakout hit for PlayStation VR. The original story elements and overall presence Camuoflaj has been able to establish feel fantastic, but the structure of the game itself needs to, at the very least, match that. The demo — which is available now on the PlayStation Store — does a great job of introducing the core concepts but, whilst I can see the potential here, I do wonder whether Iron Man VR has enough going on at its core to warrant spending hours in Tony Stark’s iron shoes. 

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Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.