The original Iron Man game didn’t exactly win any awards—in fact, considering the runaway success of the film it was based on, the game was one of 2008’s biggest disappointments. Sega still has the Stark Industries contract, as it were, and produced a wide array of games based on Iron Man 2, just in time for the movie. Most of those games are for other reviews, but the version of Iron Man 2 for the Wii is something of a different animal. Impressed with their work on The Conduit, Sega handed exclusive Wii development to High Voltage Software. HVS is nothing if not technologically skilled with the Wii hardware, and they’re no strangers to licensed games—Conduit was their first original IP. Does the independent Illinois-based studio have what it takes to polish Iron Man’s tarnished reputation?
Well, yes and no. The Wii’s version of Iron Man 2 is markedly different than its brethren on other consoles, running on HVS’s proprietary Quantum 3 engine. It’s also better than your average movie licensed tie-in, but it doesn’t quite escape its nature as just such a game.
Strangely (and maybe wisely) enough, Iron Man 2 the game has very little to do with the film. The story is completely different, and it’s hard to tell if it even takes place before or after the movie. I’m going to guess after, considering Colonel Rhodes is firmly established as War Machine, although Tony still uses his older Palladium-powered armor so it’s hard to tell. In any case, an ex-Stark employee with a shady development history is manipulating the Russian government into funding his weapon programs, and it’s once again up to Tony Stark and his allies to prevent stolen Stark tech from sparking an international incident.
The game consists of a number of levels set all over the world. From the level select you can choose to play as Iron Man or War Machine in any stage, the main difference between the two heroes being the weapons they’re outfitted with. Tony uses more energy based attacks with a few explosives thrown in for good measure, while Rhody brings out the heavy metal with a missile pod and a gattling gun, while both heroes can equip standard repulsors and a devastating pulse beam. Before each mission you can outfit the suits with different weapons and ammunition, and buy upgrades or select different armors once you’ve unlocked them.
This focus on weaponry makes the game play like a third person shooter with some typical exploration elements. You control either hero from an over-the-shoulder perspective, moving and strafing with the control stick and aiming with the Wii remote pointer. Iron Man and War Machine move rather slowly but a tap of the C button activates thrusters and allows the armored heroes to hover for a short time. It’s an unusual scheme for a superhero game but it works surprisingly well.
Most levels consist of clearing out enemies in a strictly linear environment. You’ll face standard goons who stand absolutely no chance against Stark Industries power armor, but there are plenty of more worthy foes, including automated drones similar to the ones at the end of the film, and classic Iron Man villains like Crimson Dynamo and Mauler, re-imagined for the game. Unfortunately the combat-centric gameplay robs Iron Man of some of his signature flair, notably his ability to fly. Because the game is level-based and not an open world sandbox, all flight levels are strictly rail-shooter affairs. This makes the game feel ultimately limited in scope, and it lacks the more epic flavor of the movies.
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