Reading my various VR reviews, you can see my interest in the overall experience waning. I originally awarded Batman Arkham VR an 8.5 back in 2016, applauding the hour-long experience because it provided the chance to become my favourite superhero. I dinged Star Trek Bridge Crew for its short duration — admittedly, a hell of a lot longer than Batman — giving it a 7.5 a year later despite my adoration of the science fiction franchise. While I like Iron Man, I’m not obsessed with him; the whole idea of playing through an 8-10 hour VR experience with the Avenger? I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect.
As it turns out, Iron Man VR can be pretty fun, but it can also be equally as frustrating. Actually running closer to five hours, it still manages to wear out its welcome in that time, offering up some neat refinements on PlayStation VR at the same time it makes some grave mistakes.
At its best, developer Camoflag accomplishes with this what Batman Arkham VR did for the Dark Knight, finally giving you the chance to find out what it feels like to slap repulsors on your palms and rocket through the air. Using a Move controller in each hand, you’ll be able to engage thrusters or fire off a boost to build speed, moving your hands to manoeuvre as you’ve seen Robert Downey Jr. do in the MCU. Flight takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s pretty exhilarating when it finally clicks.
Stark’s design prowess (in more ways than one, but we won’t spoil the story) means his suit is equipped with a number of upgradable systems; smart missiles can be added to your wrists, as an example, and that brings with it variety in combat. Placing your palms in the air — pretend you’re singing “Stop” by the Spice Girls — and you’ll be able to fire Iron Man’s trusty repulsors. Point your fingers to the ground and aim your wrists at a target, and you’ll be able to use the missiles. You can also hold a button on the Move to close your fist, allowing you to either rocket punch a nearby enemy or perform a ground pound with a decent AOE. As you get better with the systems, you’ll be able to fire with one hand and fly with the other, causing a path of destruction in your wake.
That’s when everything’s running smoothly, of course. Two-handed flight can go awry quickly when one of your Move controllers glitches out and you look down to see one of your hands spasming as if a villain has planted a virus in your suit. Expert flying means you’ll also need to point your vision in the direction you’d like to go, so those types of distractions certainly don’t help.
Look up or down too far while trying to steer and you’ll likely be presented with an on-screen warning that you’re out of the PlayStation Camera’s range. While you can see Tony Stark constantly turning on a dime in comics and in film, you won’t be able to do that in VR; worse yet, the need to hit a button on a Move to spin your character 90 degrees to the left or right kills all sense of immersion.
Combat is largely enjoyable, but very samey and with only a handful of robotic enemy types (and maps). Changing up your auxiliary weaponry helps with this somewhat, but not fully. Little exploratory missions either as Tony or as the Golden Avenger are also nice palette cleansers, but they also can serve to highlight one of the game’s biggest flaws: the duration of loading screens and a nasty tendency to leave you standing around in darkness for long periods while a level loads for you.
The narrative is pretty barebones — with a majority of the heavy lifting actually performed by tooltips in loading screens — though there’s some nice stuff dealing with addiction that’s perfect for a character like Tony Stark. Heavily MCU influenced, you’ll be amazed at the likes of Tony’s home, a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and Stark skyscrapers… and then be a little annoyed at the likes of Tony, Nick and Pepper, people who mostly look and sound like their cinematic equivalents, but not all the way.
The end result is an entirely competent game that I finished because I had to, not because I really wanted to. Part of that is because I’ve definitely fallen out of love with VR, though another portion of that is the PSVR system itself, certainly showing its age with a one-camera system and controllers first released in 2010. While the PS5 will certainly help with the overly long loading screens — and Camoflaj has kept visuals tight here on PS4, unlike the smoothing effect I kept noticing in Arkham VR — I’m not sure how it’s going to deal with issues that have plagued Move controllers for some time.
At any rate, those with a love for Iron Man or for VR games themselves will have a field day with this one. Everyone else may find it beneficial to wait for Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers to assemble if you want a bit of a no-fuss fix.
Iron Man VR was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4 and PlayStation VR, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.