Iron Man Free
I think there must be a thriving black market out there for knock-off Iron Man games. I came to this conclusion after comparing Gameloft’s ‘Iron Man 3: The Official Game’ with a number of their other Superhero titles. ‘Iron Man 2’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to take two examples, don’t have anything ‘Official’ about them. Gameloft must really want to emphasise that this is the REAL Iron Man 3 game, and not some budget back-street rip-off such as ‘Ironing Man 3: Who left the plug in?’
‘Iron Man 3: The Official Game’ is…hold on, let’s just stick to ‘Iron Man 3’ shall we? I can’t be bothered to type that out every other sentence. It’s an auto-flier where you take control of old Shellhead as he zooms across multiple levels blasting his way past a host of enemies who seem intent on getting in the way.
In the auto-flying sections, you bomb forward close to the ground, and swipe the screen from left to right in order to move Mr Stark and avoid oncoming vehicles, in the shooting sections, you take to the skies and swipe from enemy to enemy to blast them. This begs the question why you don’t just fly at high altitude all the time, especially as dodging is fiddly and difficult due to the over-sensitive nature of the swipe controls, and a superhero repeatedly getting taken out by a school bus definitely ain’t cool.
I have to admit that when I discovered the game was an auto-flier, alarm bells went off in my head (Yes, literal ones), ‘Iron Man 2’ was a decent attempt at an adventure title back in the prehistoric days of iOS gaming; it combined flying, blasting and beat-em-up aspects in an enjoyable package. iOS gaming has certainly matured since then, so the choice of an auto-flier seems a little lazy (if still suitable I guess), and unfortunately the whole thing seems rather tepid.
Take for example the menu screens: you’d at least expect the look of the game to mirror the look or themes of the film, ergo, something hi-tech, slick and upmarket. Instead what we get here is garish and basic, like something from a retro bullet hell shooter. The rest of the game is nice to look at, especially when you’re in flight and the blur effect of your thrusters makes the screen around you shimmer, but there’s an uncomfortable graininess to everything and approaching enemies seem pixilated. This could be because I’m playing on a 3rd Gen iPad however. Ah that bigger screen, it’s a blessing and a curse.
So you take to the sky, fly, dodge and blast some naughty robots who look like they were downloaded from a £9.99 Generic Enemy Robot Asset Package For Developers. Some of these literally appear out of nowhere, natch. Soon enough, after the umpteenth time playing what seems like the same two levels, you start to realise that everything’s a little boring. It’s as if a faceless auto-flier has been hastily re-skinned with the Iron-Man licence and shoved out the gate. In fact, if this was a faceless auto-flier with a name like ‘Bot Rush’ or even something snazzy like ‘Faceless Auto-Flier’, it would be a pretty good one. But the fact that it’s THE OFFICIAL GAME leaves it feeling a little damp.
And because the game is free, a little IAP gets sprinkled into the mix like the finishing touches of a massive IAP cake. Tony Stark didn’t become a billionaire accidentally, you know. There’s a similar timed upgrade system here similar to Real Racing 3, which is still annoying, but it least here it makes some sort of thematic sense. Flying headfirst into a tank…sorry, yellow bus taking children to nursery, means repairs will have to be made. These repairs apparently take something called ‘Time’. If you want to speed them up you can use something called ‘Money’, be it in-game (iso-8), or real (Pounds Sterling, Dollars). The electronic beeps in the background create the effect that, wow, the Iron Man suit is really getting worked on! Once you’ve been crushed by a rogue Toyota Yaris for the 15th time and you snuff it, you can also use a set amount of iso-8 to continue form where you left off.
You also get to mess around with some of the impressive-looking suits from the film, which are full of unique weapons and interesting to get to grips with. It goes without saying that they’re expensive though. Good thing Tony Stark is a Billionaire. Bad thing you’re not.
So it’s worth a cursory download and check-out; it’s certainly not terrible – a perfectly serviceable infinite flier with great sound which booms through your headphones, if you happen to be wearing any, giving a real sense of chaotic battle. But one guesses the real Tony Stark doesn’t do merely ‘serviceable’, (and there is a real-life Tony Stark by the way, he works in my local Asda). But if you’re after some proper Iron Man thrills and spills, you’d be better off watching the film. It’s a much better representation of the character, and that’s official.
Get over to twitter and follow Kevin @KevThePen. Don’t leave the iron on.