One of my favourite things about being a games journalist is putting together a scathing review of a bad game. You can be rude under the justification of critique, make use of fantastically derogatory vocabulary, and generally go to town with the insults. In light of this, you'd probably expect me to jump at the chance of reviewing Iron Man 2, which by all accounts is an awful game. The thing is, however, I love Iron Man, I love Tony Stark, and I love Robert Downey Jr. (who sits proudly at the top of my 'go gay for' list). It's due to these facts that I take no pride whatsoever in the review that follows.
Mere minutes in, it's clear that Iron Man 2 is going to be a complete train wreck of a video game. The character models are creepy (and could do with a lot more polys), textures are popping in left right and centre, and the frame-rate is less than fantastic. Poor collision detection means you'll often find Iron Man hovering halfway through a wall or ceiling, a problem that we really shouldn't have to deal with these days. It looks and feels distinctly last-gen.
The game spans eight levels, with a variety of destructible environments that play host to the action. Refreshingly, Iron Man 2: The Videogame doesn't mirror the narrative of the film, and offers a brand new story penned by The Invincible Iron Man comic writer, Matt Fraction. Fans of the comics might be pleased to find that Crimson Dynamo and Ultimo appear in boss-battle form, alongside numerous other foes who have signed up to make Iron Man's adventure as difficult as possible. With his enemies looking to use his own technologies against him, Tony Stark's mission seems decidedly one-sided. Thankfully, he's not alone, and James Rupert Rhodes - more commonly known as War Machine – is on hand to lend some much needed support.
Players can choose to start each level with either of the two suited heroes, although differences between the pair are fairly superficial. War Machine has different weaponry to Iron Man, including that machine gun resting ominously on his shoulder. His unique skill is different too, and grants improved firepower as opposed to Iron Man's invincibility. Frustratingly for fans of War Machine, he only sports one suit to play with through the game with, whilst Iron Man has a respectable nine. That's ten suits in total, maths fans.
Voice acting is fairly hit and miss, but competent for the most part. Mr. Downey Jr. is unfortunately nowhere to be seen (well, heard), but Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Don Cheadle (War Machine) both provide some solid voice work. Other characters aren't quite so lucky, including Natasha Romanov (Black Widow), who sounds so disinterested in the action unfolding around her that it's at times quite comical. Still, dodgy voiceovers are something we've come to expect from the video game medium, and so it doesn't really bother me all too much to find Iron Man 2 suffering from the same problems. I'm not so sympathetic when it comes to gameplay, however.