The Man in the Iron Mask…
Ever wanted to know what it feels like to be Tony Stark? Well, you’ve been able to for a while now on PSVR thanks to Iron Man VR. It’s a title we never got round to checking out here, but when we were approached about the Meta Quest version of the game, we jumped at the chance. And boy, are we glad we did!
The game, naturally, focuses around Tony Stark and a new threat to the world in the form of Ghost, a mysterious entity who is determined to wreak havoc on the world, and bring about a sort of global reset, while also gaining vengeance for a former Stark Industries employee. It’s relatively standard Marvel fare, with tons of easter eggs for fans of the franchise.
The game eases you in to being in the suit, with an array of VR comfort options that were really good to see. Full locomotion as well as teleporting is on offer, while the controllers function extremely well as surrogates for your hands throughout. Between the action fuelled missions, you take the place of Tony himself as he recounts the story from a podium. It’s a neat storytelling mechanic, and one that breaks up the flow at just the right moments to give you a welcome break from what can be a surprisingly physical game at times!
Once you don the armour though, things ramp up a notch. There’s something effortlessly cool about seeing the targeting icons pop up right in front of your face, and it truly feels like you’re in the suit at points. Using your hands to fly and shoot takes a little bit of getting used to, but once it clicks, you can zip around the world with ease, taking out targets and just enjoying your time as Iron Man.
The thing I’ve found with a lot of VR games is that they tend to devolve into either a straight shooting gallery or a visual tour with a couple of gimmicks. Not here. Camouflaj have done a fantastic job of keeping you engaged, with a number of missions that see you having to navigate tight environments to fly around, and a decent selection of enemies to take out. One mission sees you having to not only catch up to, but also repair a damaged aircraft, mid flight, before it hurtles into the ground. Dodging debris as you fly head first toward the flaming engines was one of the most exhilarating moments I’ve experienced in any VR title to date, and it’s definitely one that I would encourage people to seek out if they have the chance to. There’s even a great joke in the game about “how would flying in VR work?” with a knowing wink and a nod to the player.
The Quest 2 headset does a great job here of keeping everything smooth, while looking fantastic, and I didn’t once feel a pang of motion sickness. It’s a superb implementation of every facet of the technology, and the dev team deserve every bit of praise for keeping it not only playable, but thoroughly enjoyable throughout. Graphically, it’s one of the more impressive titles I’ve seen in VR. For sure, there are some limitations in the busier environments, but considering it’s an all in one unit, it looks absolutely fantastic. I’ve seen a few comparisons, and it’s safe to say that it looks better than the PSVR version in most instances.
In terms of replayability, there’s plenty on offer here. Each mission has a score-based structure which makes it very tempting to go back and repeatedly try and beat your scores. The better you do, the more options you have to upgrade your weapons, armour and flight capabilities when you’re back at Tony’s mansion. The immersion on offer here is second to none, being able to take advantage of subtle moments due to being in the headset. Environments are fully interactive, allowing you to munch on a few grapes, throw things around the room or knock things out of the way with your hand.
The only thing negative I’ve got to say about Iron Man VR is that some of the missions feel a little bit superfluous, almost like they’re there for padding, but the others that really push the story on more than make up for that. They lurch from high-octane to pulse-racing and back, and it makes you glad for the quiet moments when you get to them. Other characters do make their appearance, with a few hints at the likes of The Avengers being part of this version of the Marvel Universe that you find yourself in. In an ideal world, there would be a little more in the way of actual appearances, but as a self contained Iron Man story, I think you’d struggle to find a better one to play through.
Disclosure – A copy of the game and a Meta Quest 2 headset were provided by Camoflaj for purposes of this review