RELEASED: April 30, 2010
AVAILABLE ON: DS
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.|
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.
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
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