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Iron Man Has a Few Chinks In Its Armor

Iron Man: This video game isn't so super.
Iron Man: This video game isn't so super. (Sega)

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Friday, May 2, 2008

When it comes to video games based on movies, gamers usually fare better when the film is based on a comic book. But even that's a crapshoot, considering such interactive duds as Spider-Man 3, Superman Returns and the dreadful Catwoman.

Such is the case with Iron Man, which blends Paramount's new movie (stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard and Shaun Toub lend their voices to the game) with Marvel's 40-plus years of comic book narrative. As a result, the open-world game features such enemies as Iron Monger, Titanium Man, the Melter and A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), which will appeal to comics fans.

Iron Man's great visuals (especially the Xbox 360 and PC versions) and cool upgradeable armor make the game a solid rental, but it's ultimately too short to warrant a purchase unless you're a diehard comic book fan.

Hero Tony Stark spends all of the action in his Iron Man suit: The game opens with a bulky tin can outfit before offering the classic red and gold suit. (PlayStation 3 owners get the exclusive Ultimate Iron Man suit; Xbox 360 players get the silver centurion armor.)

Gameplay changes slightly with different suits, which adds replay value to the levels. It takes some strategy to upgrade your suit's battery power, mobility and weapons, which include missiles and the classic palm Repulsors.

The game's controls are tricky. The action on the ground and in the air comes at a frantic pace with little time for Iron Man to recharge (the suit's life support will automatically repair damage when you're not taking fire). The controls are slightly different when he's on the ground, hovering or flying, so it might take a while to get a handle on all three aspects of combat.

In addition, the flight controls are not very responsive. Most of the combat will revolve around ground and hovering attacks; flying fast is fun but not very effective.

The levels are fairly open, which allows you to take out enemy tanks, turrets, helicopters and ground troops as you please.

After playing the game, though, even with different suits, there's not much reason to go back.

-- John Gaudiosi

Iron Man Teen; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($60); Wii ($50); PSP ($40); PlayStation 2, PC, Nintendo DS ($30) Sega/Secret Level Iron Man Teen; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($60); Wii ($50); PSP ($40); PlayStation 2, PC, Nintendo DS ($30) Sega/Secret Level


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