You'd think we'd have all learnt our lesson by now. Do not, no matter how good a game looks prior to release, believe that a movie licensed video game is going to be good. It's a simple rule to follow, but one that we find ourselves breaking over and over again. Iron Man is SEGA's video game of the recently released, highly successful and pretty darn good movie of the same name. We followed the game from a distance leading up to its release and we fell into SEGA's trap. We couldn't help but believe that the nice looking flying sections, blasting helicopters from the sky and grabbing missiles and turning them on enemies would be cool. We were wrong.
The game is based on the movie so it does contain spoilers if you're worried about that kind of thing. With that said, the game starts some way into the movie, and you only ever play as a suited up Tony Stark, beginning in the Mark I and Mark II suits before being given the proper red and gold suit that the movie makes look so cool. The first few levels are little more than training for the main event, although once you've completed those training missions you've seen pretty much all the game has to offer - as you'll be doing what amounts to the same things over and over again.
Being set primarily in the sky, the levels all merge into one, with the buildings on the ground being all that really differentiates one from another. In the air you'll be hovering, zooming Superman-style, firing off your repulsor, launching rockets or charging up your mega powerful unibeam, dodging incoming fire, but it's just not as exciting as it sounds. To begin with the flying controls are a little awkward, but it shouldn't take too long to get to grips with the differences between hovering and gaining altitude. Things are made ridiculously easy by the game's auto targeting system, which means you can be shooting enemies without even looking at them. Free to concentrate on dodging enemy fire, most of the game is an exercise in boredom.
You have plenty of weapons at your disposal and some decent melee attacks if you get close enough to enemies, but for the most part you just won't think about using them - there's really no need. When you encounter bosses you'll need to be a little more careful, but even they can be defeated with a prolonged burst of repulsor fire. You even earn upgrades to you suit as you progress, although having to use an in-game currency is odd considering Tony Stark should in theory be rich enough to buy whatever he wants whenever he needs it.
Aside from the main game (which incidentally hands out Xbox 360 Achievement Points quite freely) there's little else to occupy your time. There's no multiplayer to speak of but there is a One Man Army mode which is essentially a series of arena battles. You can unlock various suits from the comic books, but it's really not exciting enough to spend any time with.
On next-gen systems Iron Man doesn't look bad, but it's far too empty. Flying high above the various locations often looks quite spectacular, but the city streets are barren and the environments are devoid of life. While the game itself is nothing like GTA 4, the open environments (for what isn't even a true open-world game) are severely lacking in comparison. Iron Man himself looks good, but everything else seems pretty rushed. The opening level doesn't set the bar all that high with some terrible animations for the Mark I suit, which moves nothing like it does in the movie.
To be fair to SEGA and developer Secret Level Iron Man isn't an awful game; it's just a long way from the level my expectations had been raised to. After the movie turned out to be such good fun, the game landed with a heavy thud, failing to offer anywhere near the same level of enjoyment.