keskiviikko 27. elokuuta 2014

REVIEW - Iron Man | DS | 2008

GENRE(S): Action / Shoot 'em up
RELEASED: May 2, 2008
DEVELOPER(S): Artificial Mind & Movement

I don't think anyone ever really thought of making an Iron Man game again after the commercial and critical flop that was the 1996 game Iron Man / X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal - yeah, still a cool title. There was that one low-budget Iron Man game for the Game Boy Advance, but it doesn't really count since it was just another heartless by-product of the Marvel Comics spike created by the overwhelming success of Spider-Man and X-Men, with zero advertising and low gameplay value; I'm surprised they didn't make some sort of game out of everyone on Marvel's roster at that time. Iron Man's international success just exploded upon the arrival of Jon Favreau's 2008 film, starring the already fantastic Robert Downey Jr. in his landmark role. The film was hailed as one of the greatest superhero movies ever made, even noted as one of the best films of 2008 by the American Film Institute. It originally premiered in Australia on April 14th, 2008, and in the United States on May 2nd - that very same day, three different video games were released with Sega as the publisher; one for the PC, PlayStation 2, PSP and Wii, one for PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and finally, one for the Nintendo DS. Surprisingly, the DS version got the most credit out of the three different versions of the license... which wasn't much. The movie's greatness might help you to bear the game... but forget the movie and you've got yourself a mess a bit too close to that last X-Men game for the DS.

Stark don't approve

Billionaire weapons industrialist Tony Stark is kidnapped by terrorists during a demonstration in Afghanistan. What seems to be a random attack against any foreigners turns out a masterplan, as Tony has been targeted on purpose to build a WMD for the terrorist forces. Instead of just following up on threats, Tony starts work on a high-tech battle armor with a fellow hostage, which he then uses to escape the camp. Upon returning home to the United States, Tony ceases weapons development, much to the dismay of his devious business partner, builds a much more advanced version of the suit and begins harvesting terrorism all around the world as a colossal and witty problem solver known as Iron Man.

Well, the first step is making a good
game. The second is quitting with
these damn half-baked stills.
Seriously, how awesome was the movie? I didn't really know a whole lot about Iron Man when I was first heading into it. I hadn't even indulged myself in the monstrosity known as Iron Man / X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal back then (another excuse to utter the name). I had heard it was "quite good", and this was most notably coming from someone who hadn't a clue of Iron Man beforehand and not much love for comic books in general, which just goes to show how easily even non-comic book fans can enjoy the movie. I saw it, and I immediately ranked it among the best superhero flicks ever made, right up there with the best Batman movies. Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Tony Stark is just off the charts, and he alone is responsible for the salvation of the sequels - I don't know what The Avengers would've been without him, at that. Oh, he does voice the character in the game as well - but even Downey isn't skillful enough to save this heap of common debris.

I guess the graphics are OK, nice 3D for a 2008 DS game, right up 'til horribly outlined movie stills come along to spoil what could've been a breakthrough in cutscene design. The music is of the (very) standard orchestrated fare of superhero games, there are no heavy guitars or even some variations of rock classics to be heard here. The best part about the sound is hearing Robert Downey Jr. speaking Tony's lines, at least some of them - the cutscenes are text-only. Doubled with those horrible stills, no less.

Now the first level doesn't feel all that bad, or the short periods you spend on the ground in general. Sure, the controls are bad, but not bottom-end awful. You use the touch screen for the flamethrower, but at least you can turn around by using standard controls, so you don't necessarily have to aim the flamethrower with that damn poking pad. You can also punch with Y, X, B or A instead of taking the DiScomfortable way out by poking the punch button in the left corner of the screen. After I was done with the first level, I was nearly going to give the game a lot more credit than I thought, at least a lot more than I gave X-Men - The Official Game, which mostly suffered from horrible touch screen gameplay.

Sorry boys, my upgrades aren't ready
for tanks. Come back next level.
But then, all went to hell with a horrible demonstration of poor man's Desert Strike... on the DS. I recently played Desert Strike, which was one of my favourite 16-bit console games in my childhood (I actually owned a copy on the Amiga, though). It looked and felt so cool back then, but in my later years, I've started to wonder what exactly was so cool about it. Probably just the destruction of public places - I've always loved that. Well, there's nothing cool about even doing that in Iron Man, there are no kicks to be had at all. It's just a pointless shoot 'em up where you need to take out a series of targets in the most lame - or alternatively, awkward - fashion, and when you've done enough of that, the circle starts anew in just another scenery. Yet repetition is the least of your worries.

The flight scenes are where the touch screen rears the ugliest of its heads. First of all, the Y, X, B and A buttons don't mean shit anymore. As long as you're using your basic, lame weapon, it works fine, but you won't hold for long with that squirt gun. The more powerful weapons have a cooldown period after each shot, and these ones you need to aim, carefully at that, before shooting them at a target. It's extremely hard to dodge from harm's way by using the standard pad and trying to aim at those targets all the while getting bombarded from every fucking direction. The enemies are quite weak, but pack 'em up and you're in trouble. Even if you do survive, you'll be hurting - Tony's shields will be back up, but your hands might be in need of medical treatment.

The numbers aren't helping Iron Man 2, but I guess I have to head into that game as soon as my playing hands have healed to take another beating, just to get this over with. Perhaps Iron Man wasn't quite the most horrible experience I've had, on the DS or in general as the on-ground gameplay's almost (and relatively) entertaining, but it goes to show that some superheroes just aren't video game material, not even at their potential best.

+ Robert Downey Jr.
+ Mediocre, yet tolerable gameplay as long as you're on ground (the minority)

- The cutscenes
- Less than mediocre and completely intolerable gameplay as long as you're in the air (the majority)

< 4.5 >

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