The verdict is in. After several days of playing you can read our Iron Man VR review right here to see how this superhero adventure stacks up!
Making superhero games is already very difficult. Not only do they have all of the typical stressors and difficulties that any other game has, but they have a pre-existing fan base of comic readers and movie watchers that have a specific idea in their head of what that hero is supposed to do, say, and look like. Add in years of idolization, the lack of any really reputable games about the character, and the astronomical task of making a good VR game in and of itself, and Marvel’s Iron Man VR had a tall order at hand.
Despite the odds, it absolutely delivers.
Camouflaj set out to make an Iron Man game that would feel both like an authentic portrayal donning the suit as Tony Stark and a completely fresh and original take on the character. They didn’t want to copy the MCU version of Iron Man (this is totally separate from any other versions of the character and uses comics as inspiration) and didn’t want to retell an origin story.
The end result is an entirely captivating and thrilling action game that features an incredible narrative full of stand out performances and unexpected twists. The voice cast here (featuring the likes of Josh Keaton and Jennifer Hale, to name a few) is one of the best I’ve seen in a VR game with excellent development over the course of the 8+ hour adventure. That being said though, Hale’s portrayal as Pepper Potts is excellent but she plays a painfully small part in the overall story. For the vast majority, she’s absent and it feels like a missed opportunity given her rapport with Keaton’s Stark.
Iron Man VR is structured like a linear action game with a central hub in the garage of Stark’s Malibu, California mansion. From the hub, you can tweak your armor loadout, pick missions to play (or replay,) explore and play around with things like a basketball game and home gym, or do flight and combat challenges. It’s a good structure with as much content as I’d expect from a AAA-quality game.
My playthrough clocked in around 8 hours and felt very well-paced. I spent a tiny bit of time doing optional challenges and poking around environments. If I had tried to unlock everything in the garage, get every suit design, and look for more Easter eggs it could have easily taken several more hours. There are also new pieces of content that open up after you finish the game and three difficulty modes to pick — I played on normal and never died, but that isn’t to say it wasn’t challenging or fun. I had several near-death experiences and frankly enjoyed feeling like a powerful superhero. Hard would likely be better if you’re looking for more of a challenge.
As good as the story is in Iron Man VR though, the real highlight here is how it feels to be Iron Man. A lot of the time you’ll see people say games like Spider-Man on PS4 or the Batman Arkham games made them feel like a superhero, but even those can’t measure up to the attention to detail here. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that embodies feeling and being a superhero so completely. From the super-powered highs to the depressing lows.
Holding the PS Move controllers down by your waist, you tilt them backwards to aim your palms behind you and pull the triggers to engage thrusters and fly. This is the core of Iron Man VR’s gameplay. From this stance you can then twist your wrists to turn subtly in the air, point your palms up to go down, let go of the thrusters, then switch the direction you aim your palms to engage boost and sort of “drift” through the air as well.
Boosting to the side to dodge, then engaging hover to stop in place and line up a powerful blast was my bread and butter in tight combat scenarios. Mastering the art of flying with one-hand and shooting with the other, while moving, is another key tactic that feels amazing to pull off — even if a little imprecise at times.
But as cool as it all can feel, it’s mostly in spite of the PS Move controllers. They were outdated in 2016 when the PSVR launched and they’re just showing their age even more now.
At first I was worried combat would get extremely repetitive and just involve boosting, punching, and shooting, but there’s a lot of customization and nuance here. You start the game with basic repulsor beams and smart missiles that lock onto targets, but in the garage there are lots more. You can change the repulsor to a chargeable beam, unlock bombs, cluster bombs, missiles, and more. And yes, you’ve got the iconic Unibeam as a special as well.
As you enter each mission you see Tony’s breath reflected back on the metallic interior of the helmet. As the onboard systems activate, the HUD initializes and fades into view as your eye sockets appear and zoom onto your face. It really, really feels like you’re wearing the armor. VR developers of sci-fi games or helmet-based games really need to look at this and take notes.
At first the HUD is a little distracting because of just how much information is shown at all times, but it not only helps with immersion, it’s all useful information. It would be nice if you could adjust the size and placement of some elements though.
To its credit, Iron Man VR really feels like it’s pushing the PSVR to its limits. Despite what the developers say about designing the game around the PSVR and PS Move Controllers, I can’t help but feel like it would be so much better on a headset with higher resolution and more horsepower to eliminate jagged edges, no wires to avoid the tripping hazard from constantly spinning, and better controllers so I didn’t have to participate in mental gymnastics to remember which buttons do what. Mapping things like rotating, punching, and hovering all right there next to each other was still confusing even after nearly 10 hours of play time.
I’m still in awe that the pseudo-360 tracking works as well as it does. I never really had issues regardless of which direction I was facing in my room, even if my back was to the camera. The camera can always see your head and if it can’t see the controllers it uses the gyroscopes to estimate position and movement.
The absolute worst parts about Iron Man VR though, something that have zero concessions to make them not so bad, are the load times. I cannot stress enough how brutal some of these load times are.
I’m talking literally minutes on-end standing in silence. To Camouflaj’s credit they did a good job of providing useful tips, story recaps, and concept art to look at for around half of the load screens, but it’s still awful. You literally have enough time to go get a snack between missions. And to make matters worse, most missions begin with a load screen, then you get ready in the garage and pick where to go, then another load screen, do part of the mission, another load screen, do the rest, and then load screen back to the garage.
It’s almost comical how bad the load times are and really underscores the need for PS5 from a VR perspective. I’m eager to see what this game plays like on PS5 (fingers crossed it’s supported) even using the original existing PSVR headset.
Iron Man VR Review Final Impressions
Despite a few setbacks like horrendous load times, sometimes janky controls, and a few missed opportunities with its (surprisingly excellent) story, Iron Man VR is an absolute triumph. Camouflaj absolutely delivered a AAA-quality campaign-driven VR game featuring one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, all while showing him in a new light with an original story that isn’t weighed down by the baggage of the MCU and comics. Flying as Iron Man feels amazing, talking to characters as Tony Stark is full of wit and humor, and from top to bottom it’s an exhilarating and well-paced adventure that feels like it only grazes the surface of how high this developer can fly in VR.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR will be available from July 3rd, 2020 exclusively on the PSVR headset for PS4. We conducted this review using a PS4 Pro. For more on how we arrived at this verdict, see the UploadVR Review Scale below and check out our review guidelines. Like our Iron Man VR review? Let us know in the comments below!