maanantai 1. syyskuuta 2014

REVIEW - Iron Man 2 | DS | 2010

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: April 30, 2010
DEVELOPER(S): Griptonite Games

Like most Marvel Comics movies as I've noticed recently, Iron Man 2 had its first showing on April 24th, but its official premiere on May 7th, 2010. The film was another box office success, having the highest-grossing opening of the year, but most critics were not as pleased with it as they were with its predecessor, although Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as the main character Tony Stark once again won unanimous praise. A week prior to the premiere, three different video games entitled Iron Man 2 - though none of them had anything to do with the movie - were released, and once again it was the Nintendo DS version that got cut at least some slack, while the console games and the PSP game got utterly mangled. Well, it's definitely better than the first one, no doubt about that - hell, it might even be the best Iron Man game there is. That's not saying much beyond anything.

Here comes the War Machine. Yay.

Tony Stark finds that a recent attack on Stark Archives and the attempted theft of JARVIS' back-up files was conducted by the Roxxon Energy Corporation, who are working with the terrorist group A.I.M. to create a new battle armor using Iron Man as a template. Tony and James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, reluctantly team up with S.H.I.E.L.D. to take down the opposing force before they finish their work.

A flight in the park.
I remember next to nothing about the film Iron Man 2. The only time I watched it I'd consumed a few more beers than I probably even realized. I tried to look it up everywhere, with no intention of taking the easy way out and leeching it off the net, for research and atmosphere, but then it turned out beforehand that the game has nothing to do with the movie - that took a weight off my shoulders. Even though it uses the likenesses of the characters on film, it's a stand-alone story set after the movie. That means the arrival of the War Machine - another Marvel superhero named after a hard rock classic - who made his film debut in Iron Man 2. One of the keys to having a better and more comfortable game than the last one is, in fact, War Machine. You see, as War Machine you use the dumbass touch screen controls and targeting system that destroyed the last game - so while he gets the scraps, Iron Man has traditional control. Which makes him the only character I'd ever even think of using to play the game beyond the mandatory tutorial. And even that's not very fun, not for long.

The game looks quite all right all the way to the cutscenes, since having no source material means no movie stills, just DS-quality 3D as fine as it comes. I guess the music would be all right if there were more than two or three tunes - I mean, really? This time, there's no spoken dialogue at all - more of dialogue in general, though. Lots more. In fact, you get cut off every 30 seconds for the longest time into the game, either by JARVIS or your BFF who's following in your shadow each step of the way.

Iron Man 2 differs extremely from the first Iron Man game on the DS. First of all it's essentially a 2D game, which alone perhaps does make playing as War Machine a bit more bearable. That, and the fact that you can actually see the enemies' precise placements on the touch screen as big red dots, you can just tap them without having to hover around as cannon fodder and look for a hot spot with the stylus. However, since I'm a naysayer for the whole damn touch screen, I'll take Tony and his traditional controls instead of playing just one mission as War Machine.

ED-209 makes a cameo. OR, the
character designers have legal
issues on their hands.
When Tony's around, Iron Man 2 is more of a beat 'em up than a shooter, and a big part of it takes place in the air. What makes it even more of a beat 'em up rather than a shooter is the fact that your basic cannon's extremely weak in the beginning of the game, and since you can only permanently upgrade your stuff between missions at Tony's lab, you'll have a lot of time to grow more comfortable with close-range attacks than using your ranged firepower. On each mission you reach several turning points, in which you must simply beat down or shoot up a given amount of enemies to be able to proceed to the next stage. Even outside the confines of these scenes, your only goal is to turn a bunch of robots into a steaming pile of scrap metal. There's nothing more to it - an occasional 2D arcade shooter scenario (those are actually quite cool!), and practically useless collectables here and there, but that's it. That's the idea of the game. It carries on simply like this for way too long - it's not even the shortest game around. But well, since the controls are at least all right, the game might prove itself to the undemanding audience on long road trips.

The way the game handles a case of death is quite interesting. Basically you have unlimited continues, and if and when you respawn, you respawn at the exact spot you died in (or where your suit's power ran out, as the game puts it), but pay attention to the word "if". You see, getting your metal ass handed to you challenges you to a connect-the-dots type of minigame where you need to correctly align the outer rims of the arc reactor (Tony's "heart") with its core in 40 seconds, so the suit's reserve power would activate. If you fail, it's back to the beginning of the mission, and every time you die, the puzzle gets harder. I hated this system at first, but now that I think of it, it's kinda cool. It's like a very fair checkpoint system, but with challenge. It's like you're buying yourself a checkpoint. Props, seriously - I wish there would be more fresh ideas, though I guess I have to face the truth here: exactly how can you diversify an Iron Man game? He might be fun to watch, but not exactly the most interesting choice to star in a Marvel Comics video game, unless they made a good game out of The Avengers (the film series) some day. At least there we'd have a few more interesting characters to choose from if things got too dull, and still Downey's version of Tony Stark to crack a good joke or few. I doubt it'd be fancy, but interesting to try out.

If you're an easy customer, a fan, a sucker for mild handheld entertainment over serious gaming (yeah, I know those kind of people), or all of the above, Iron Man 2 is worth a shot. It gets extremely boring too quick, sounds even more boring right from the start, War Machine is useless, and the dialogue which constantly throws you off the ball is the last nail for me, but the game's not a total and utter failure quite like I expected it to be.

+ Good graphics
+ The checkpoint system's the kind you'll probably loathe at first, but you've got to admit it's quite clever
+ Decent controls for Iron Man
+ I think old arcade enthusiasts will find the few 2D shoot 'em up scenes quite cool

- "Blah-blah-blah, JARVIS, blah-blabbity-blah"
- Touch screen controls - basically, War Machine
- As fun as it sounds to beat up robots, everything has a limit, and that limit is met a bit too fast...
- ...And, that's all there is to the game; everything extra's just for show
- Just a few tunes, and none the more contextual than last time around

< 6.4 >

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