Iron Man 2 Review

Welcome back to every superhero movie video game tie-in you’ve ever played.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 07/02/2010 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid, customizable controls; decent graphics
Poison Mushroom for...
Bland plot; lifeless voice work; repetitive, forgettable action; no co-op

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard scoring criteria.

One of the rules of superhero movie video game tie-ins is that star developers don’t necessarily guarantee great games. In 2007, Traveller’s Tales — the minds behind the LEGO action games – produced Transformers: The Game, which was a beautiful, boring adventure. In 2009, UbiSoft developed Avatar for Wii, which was panned for its rushed development. Now High Voltage Studios — responsible for last year’s much-hyped (if somewhat disappointing) The Conduit — has produced the Wii adaptation of Iron Man 2. True to history, High Voltage’s hand in development cannot save this game from mediocrity.

Iron Man 2 is essentially a third-person action game with first-person shooter controls. Players run and strafe with the Nunchuck’s analog stick and turn and point with the Wii Remote’s IR. Primary and secondary weapons are handled with the A and B buttons, while swinging the Nunchuck effects a melee attack. Those familiar with High Voltage’s work will spot a few elements from The Conduit here, including a wide range of customization with respect to Wii Remote sensitivity and pointer “dead space.” Control was not a problem in The Conduit and it is a strong suit here.

The game itself is just a few hours long and represents a by-the-numbers approach to this genre. Players embark on a series of missions set in different locations, each mission with main objectives and some sidequests. Most of the missions involve going to a specific point, blowing things up, and then going to another point to blow other stuff up. The secondary objectives are either more of the same or are fetch quests; in either case, they are both unnecessary to complete the game and frankly forgettable. In the course of traversing the game’s areas, extra collectable “tech trophies” can be found in the field which can be used to unlock bonus content, such as alternate suits. As is the trend in games of this type, points are accumulated through completing certain actions, which in turn allow for the purchase of suit upgrades such as better weapons, longer hover time, and stronger armor.

There are a few other components to mix things up, some of which work better than others. There are a few minigames, including one attached to hacking and one that can even stave off death, but they are pretty simple and the consequences for failure are pretty minor. (Losing the death minigame merely returns you to an earlier checkpoint.) There are a couple of on-rails flying levels, but the enemies are repetitive and the end product isn’t that interesting. Bosses represent unique challenges, each with its own weak spots or weaknesses, but there are only a few major bosses in the entire game.

Iron Man 2 Screenshot

And then there is the issue of playable characters. Both Iron Man and War Machine are available, and both offer different dialogue in a given level, giving some semblance of replayability. On the other hand, their abilities and weapons loadouts are very similar and they handle essentially identically in most game situations. In addition, War Machine is only selected if a player goes in and manually chooses a mission; Iron Man is the default option. Maybe the worst issue, though, is the fact that although the game offers players to play as either Iron Man or War Machine, there is no co-op by which to play them simultaneously.

The game opts to completely jettison the movie’s plot, but the end result isn’t much to write home about. Most of the Wii game has Iron Man and War Machine crisscrossing the world, battling giant robots while working with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Pre-mission sequences (mostly static cutouts on a flat background) are filled with all sorts of detailed talk about figuring out nefarious world plans, but it isn’t that compelling and can be skipped without any consequence. The same goes for in-game objectives, which ostensibly have some plot connection but aren’t really interesting enough to warrant much thought beyond the end result of blowing things up.

The production values in the game are a mixed bag. The music is mostly the AC/DC heavy metal of the movie, which can be exhilarating or grating depending on the player. The voicework has a few of the stars from the movie, including Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, while Stark is played by someone different, although he does a legitimate Robert Downey, Jr. impression. Stars or not, though, the voice performances (including, sadly, those from Jackson) are largely lifeless. Worse still, the sound mixing is such that it’s hard to hear what they are saying without the help of subtitles. The graphics, on the other hand, are decent enough — High Voltage does bring in some nice blur and weapon effects — but they aren’t great and they certainly won’t be confused with The Conduit.

Overall, Iron Man 2 isn’t a bad game. It looks decent, has good controls, and dishes out some nice action, especially when blowing up enemies or scenery. Unfortunately, the game’s vices — the bland plot, flat voicework, and short play time, to name a few — render this game little more than yet another mediocre offering in a long tradition of mediocre superhero movie tie-ins. Buy it if you must, but don’t expect to get much for your trouble.

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