SDCC 2019 Preview | Iron Man VR
Marvel Games and Sony seemed to have struck gold last year with Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s done so well that Insomniac’s super-hero adventure is now the best selling game in the genre. Sony seems to want to repeat that success, but this time with their PlayStation VR system. During a State of Play presentation, Iron Man VR was announced, bringing the Armored Avenger to our headsets. During San Diego Comic-Con 2019, I had a chance to try out the upcoming title. It may not be as fulfilling of an experience as Marvel’s Spider-Man, but for the first time, I felt like I was Iron Man.
The game itself seems to involve a plot with the Ant-Man & the Wasp villain, Ghost. Trying to make Tony Stark make amends for something in his past, he will face many threats on his life. While it’s unknown how involved Ghost is, the game promises multiple villains. Our demo unfortunately didn’t cover any of the story bits, but that’s probably for the best to avoid spoilers. Instead, we get a simple tutorial, letting Iron Man get his bearings near his home. For an event like San Diego Comic-Con, this is also probably best for time.
The demo starts off with Tony, getting a call from Pepper as he makes his way home. It’s here that we learn how to fly using the boosters from his hands. Holding the triggers on the PlayStation Move controllers activates the jets, and pointing them in a direction allows the player to move in the opposite direction. Want to gain altitude? Point the controllers downward. If you want to slow your flight, aim in front of yourself. It’s a movement that works surprisingly well, though if you don’t maintain your flight, you’ll drop like a ton of bricks.
As we get closer to the home, Tony decides to get some practice going. First, he wanted to test his flight control, so a virtual obstacle course appears on the field. It makes sense, given that Iron Man’s view would be able to create this “augmented reality”. This is where we learn how to boost, pulling the triggers twice to activate. It makes you go much faster, though it also makes it harder to control. One thing that the game didn’t mention but I learned after my demo was that the Square and Triangle button allowed quick turns. Since I didn’t know, I simply used my own body to turn, and it worked, though it might not be ideal in some settings.
After finishing the coastal obstacle course, it now moves to combat practice. This is where I really felt like the game was successful. Using the PlayStation Move button activates Iron Man’s repulsor blasts. Given that the hands are also necessary for flight, this becomes a game of multitasking. One hand pointing down can maintain altitude while the other can aim and fire away. As the combat tutorial starts, virtual targets appear all around me. I dispatch them easy enough, and then it teaches players how to punch. Holding down the X button, players can activate a rocket powered punch toward a locked on target. The game sets up another obstacle course, allowing you to fly around and punch targets, giving a solid test for what we’ve learned.
Shortly after, Tony requests more of a challenge, as drones appear and fly around. I had a blast firing away at the multiple moving drones, really immersing me in the action. The drones could fire back, though I wasn’t going to let them take me down. Using everything I learned, I was mostly focusing on the repulsor blasts, since aiming came naturally. I did use the punch a few times, but it was just so fun blasting away in all directions. The lock on and speed of the projectiles was super responsive, so it always felt like an extension of my hands. After the waves of drones, the game asks players to land home and call it a day. The landing left a bit to be desired in the immersion department, but it still went smoothly.
While the demo was over, we hear of a lot of promising things to expect in the full release. Players will see more weapons, upgradeable suit enhancements, and familiar settings. The game looks pretty incredible visually, with a smooth movement and detailed models. Even looking at your armored hands in front of you look fantastic. As for the voice of Tony, fans seem to be convinced that it’s Josh Keaton, perhaps best known for his role as Peter Parker. It’s very different from Eric Loomis, who voices Tony in a lot of other media, but I don’t hate it.
Overall, I left quite impressed with my demo. While it was a short snippet of content, Iron Man VR controls great with natural ease. Fans of Iron Man may even be happy to see the Ari Granov designed suit for the game, giving a nice throwback to Iron Man: Extremis. While it might not be the open-world Iron Man experience some fans would want, this does feel like a AAA VR experience. Information is still scarce, but if the rest of the game is anywhere near as fun as the demo, this will be another Marvel hit.