Iron Man 2 Review

I'm going to start off this review by focusing on what Iron Man 2 does right ... this won't take long.  The game deserves credit for not rehashing the movie's plot, instead providing an original adventure that takes place sometime after the movie.  Tony Stark's AI assistant Jarvis has been hacked, cloned, and used to help create Ultimo, a robot-human hybrid weapon with the ability to repair itself after a battle.  The story wraps itself in a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo in an attempt to make it seem like there's more depth to the story than there really is, but in truth there's barely enough story to fill a half hour timeslot on TV.  Another good thing about the game is that in most missions you have your choice of Iron Man suits, including the first suit from the comics, or to play as War Machine.  The last good point is that that the game has only eight missions.  That's a good thing because it will be a struggle for you to stick with the game for even that long.

It's going to take you a while to get to that carrier...

I could begin tallying the troubles with the game with the graphics, which are rather mediocre and includes downright ugly cutscenes with characters that look like they're made from paper mache.  Or I could point out that the game's weapon and suit upgrade system is so hopelessly convoluted most gamers will give up on it out of frustration or the quick realization that it's simply not worth the time and effort.  But you could probably live with all of that if the gameplay delivered.  Unfortunately, the gameplay is the biggest misfire of all.

The problems start with flight, which looks like it would be an exhilarating rush in the movies but it's anything but that in the game.  Normal flight is controlled by using Y and A to move up and down and the sticks to steer, but this moves Iron Man with all of the speed of a Zamboni driving through mud.  It's frustratingly slow, and doubly so during battle.  Double-tapping the left bumper will kick in high speed flight but this has its own set of issues beyond the fact that the steering isn't too responsive.  First of all, you're often artificially constrained to a small area during a mission even though the level is relatively large, so you rarely have the chance to travel at high speed for long.  For instance, in one mission you're escorting attack choppers down a canyon and even though you can see enemy gun emplacements down the canyon you can't fly ahead to clear them out without failing the mission.  When you do have the chance to zip around an area it's often relatively crowded which means you'll be bumping into things a lot.  This brings us to the game's oddly pseudo-destructive environments.  One moment you'll smash right through a building only to be brought to a complete stop moments later when you hit a pipe.  There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what's destructible and what isn't, which means you're often brought to a complete halt when you hit your metal head on an object that is inexplicably indestructible.