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Marvel's Iron Man VR

Marvel's Iron Man VR

Written by Eric Hauter on 11/30/2022 for QW2  
More On: Marvel's Iron Man VR

When Marvel's Iron Man VR first released on PlayStation VR back in 2020, I found the gameplay to be wildly impressive. No other game has successfully been able to make me feel like I’m actually inhabiting the body of a superhero the way that Iron Man VR has. But as much as I enjoyed zooming around in Tony Stark’s armor, the high-flying superhero mechanics in Iron Man were marred a bit by some performance issues on Sony’s underpowered system. Load times were some of the worst I’d encountered, and the dang Move Controllers were, as usual, less than ideal (though to developer Camouflaj’s credit, they somehow made it work).

I was under the impression that Iron Man VR was a Sony exclusive, but it seems that perhaps that exclusivity was timed (or maybe I was just wrong), because Iron Man VR is now available on Meta Quest 2. And though I sometimes have my doubts about the horsepower of Quest 2, the platform is certainly capable of running Iron Man VR a heck of a lot better than PSVR was. Camouflaj took an already impressive game and tweaked the hell out of it, essentially removing every gripe I had about the original release. This is a new and improved version of Iron Man VR, and just like Tony Stark’s red and gold armor, it glistens and shines.

Iron Man VR delivers a very well-written story, bearing all the hallmarks of a classic Iron Man adventure. Tony Stark is under siege from a number of different fronts. A new enemy, Ghost, is striking at him from all sides, attacking Stark’s holdings all around the world in a vendetta that Stark barely comprehends. To help combat Ghost, Stark reboots his old AI assistant Gunsmith, much to the chagrin of his current AI F.R.I.D.A.Y. Tony retired Gunsmith when he gave up developing and dealing in weaponry, and he figures that his old pal – who is modeled after and shares a personality with Tony himself – can help turn the tide in his battle against Ghost, who is using Tony’s old Stark-tech against him.

Tony gets more than he bargained for with Gunsmith, who is extremely helpful at first, but not exactly willing to go back into the holodeck retirement he was shoved into when Tony decided he had outlived his usefulness. Before long, Tony is fighting battles on two fronts, both of which are the result of his own actions.

The story in Iron Man VR is rock solid, delving into themes familiar to Iron Man fans. Tony is an addict and a narcissist, and even with the best intentions, he can’t help but take shortcuts that he shouldn’t. Tony Stark always thinks he knows best; his overconfidence allows him to walk down dangerous paths upon which others would fear to tread. As a result, he is confronted with problems of his own creation, and forces he sets loose in the world return to his front door, ready, willing, and excited to bite him in the ass. It’s a pretty great little tale.

But the best Iron Man story in the world wouldn’t carry a game very far if the gameplay wasn’t able to deliver. Luckily, Iron Man VR has some of the best VR gameplay I’ve ever seen, including some near-magical comfort features that I have yet to figure out.

I am someone that suffers from VR sickness. I have a tough time playing first-person VR games, often having to resort to taking a motion-sickness medication when I am reviewing games that allow for free movement. Just the act of walking forward in a game while looking from side to side can set my stomach flipping in place with nausea. That said, and I don’t know how they pulled it off, but Camouflaj is doing some serious voodoo under the hood of Iron Man VR, because I can swoop and fly over, under, and around a Shield helicarrier in Iron Man VR without the slightest hint of motion sickness. I simply can’t explain it.

Flying in Iron Man VR is a sheer joy. It takes a little while to get used to the controls, but once you have them down, the maneuvers you can pull off are ridiculous. The system is so intuitive, you forget you are doing it after a while, similar to the way you forget what you are doing when riding a bike.

Tony has a thruster in the palm of each hand, which are controlled by the trigger buttons on the Quest 2 controllers. Face your palms down and pull the trigger, and you gain altitude. Put your palms at your sides facing behind you to go forward. Move one slightly forward to turn. You can also tap a button on the controller to hover.

In practice, the motion in this game is much more intuitive than it sounds when I describe it. You can lean into turns, and the suit just responds to your motion. Likewise, it feels like you can finetune your destination just by looking in a certain direction, though I’m not 100% sure if this is an actual feature, or just a feeling I get. Either way, the flight feels natural, and the game gives the player plenty of latitude to figure it out before tossing enemies at them.

Battle is just as natural feeling. Tony has three primary attacks. Palms up allows him to use his repulsors. Point your arm at an enemy and cock your wrist down, and you can fire Tony’s wrist weapons. And of course, he can just rocket punch stuff. The positions needed to fire these weapons are completely instinctive; you’ve seen Tony do this a million times in movies, so you know exactly what to do. Tony also has the Unibeam ray in his chest that slowly charges, allowing the player to absolutely decimate enemies to clear the field of battle.

Each of these weapons (and other suit features) can be enhanced in Tony’s lab, thanks to the industrious Gunsmith, or traded out for auxiliary weapons. You can ignore the upgrade feature if you want, but it can dramatically change the way you do battle, so I would strongly suggest unlocking as many of Tony’s cool toys as you can and trying them out. Every build is viable, and I feel like you would be missing out on some of the coolest stuff in the game if you didn’t give all the weapons a shot.

The phrase that constantly runs through my head while playing Iron Man VR is "attention to detail". Everything in this game, from surprising little character moments to the stellar sound design, is polished to a brilliant shine. Look closely at the differences between Gunsmith and F.R.I.D.A.Y., and think about the advancement that Tony has made to his tech that allows for those differences. Someone actually thought all of this out, and it's that attention to the little things in the game that make it so unique and fun. Gotta love that Savage Land reference, too.

Iron Man VR's move to Quest 2 brings with it a number of improvements to the experience, beyond the obvious but extremely notable improvement in resolution. The soul-crushing load times that were present on PSVR are almost entirely gone; minutes have become seconds. No longer will players be hovering in the dark, wondering if the game has broken. On Quest 2, I never waited more than six or seven seconds for a level to load.

Camouflaj has also added a smooth locomotion feature for exploring environments between battles. This is a nice feature for those that enjoy it, but being who I am, I stuck with the original game’s system of teleportation waypoints. The waypoints are nicely situated so the player can experience all of the highpoints of the environments, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I was still able to make crank phone calls on the helicarrier and throw all of Tony’s water bottles around the room.

The only drawback I found on Quest 2 was an ever-so-slight framerate slowdown when battle becomes heated. This was only during the rarest of moments, when maybe 10 or more enemies were swirling around on screen. Frankly, the slowdown is a decent tradeoff considering all of the other improvements to the already great experience.

Marvel's Iron Man VR is a must have for Quest 2 owners, just as it was for PSVR owners. However, this time I can say that with a lot less caveats. It is a delight to return to this already great game and witness the amazing clean-up job that has been done on it. Every bone in my body tells me that this game should make me feel bad when I'm careening around miles above the Earth, but it doesn’t. Marvel's Iron Man VR instead provides the best superhero simulator on the market, along with stellar Marvel storytelling. This game is in a class all its own. 

Camouflaj has put an extraordinary amount of work into the Quest 2 port of Marvel's Iron Man VR, solving many of the issues that held back this extraordinary game upon its initial PSVR release. What is left is the best superhero sim on the market, with amazing flight and combat and a pretty great Marvel story. VR fans should not hesitate to grab this game; it’s quite simply one of the best VR titles ever released.

Rating: 9.5 Exquisite

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS VR2, Quest 3, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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