Marvel was one of the standout brands at this year’s Brazil Game Show. I had the chance to try out two of their biggest upcoming titles at Sony’s booth, and to my surprise, Iron Man VR came out on top as my favorite VR demo experience in quite a while. While I’m still not sure it could hold as a full game per se, I can safely say that it’s one of the most impressive PSVR titles I have tested so far.
I had already quite enjoyed my time playing in VR when I tried out an early build of Sniper Elite VR at E3 in June, and back then, I already claimed that that game might get me to finally invest on a VR headset, thanks to its overall realism and fun factor. Iron Man VR shares some of the elements that made me enjoy Sniper Elite VR so much, and then some, thanks to its license and the clever use of the technology in service of making it a believable emulation of Tony Stark’s famous flying suit of armor.
The demo itself hangs on a simple premise: you’re testing out a new version of the Iron Man suit by flying it around the bay next to Tony’s mansion out in the coast, shooting drones and clearing a course, all the while learning the basic controls and getting accustomed to how everything works and hearing Tony’s quips and exchanges with his suit’s A.I F.R.I.D.A.Y and Pepper Potts. Thanks to a smooth movement style that was miraculously not enough to make me sick or even a little dizzy, as I’m wont to be during intensive VR demos like this, I got into the game really quickly and was able to complete all of the objectives with very few misses.
By now, you probably know how Stark flies in that futuristic armor from all of the movies he’s been in, but it works a little differently in Iron Man VR. You don’t get to use his feet thrusters because you’re playing the game standing up, so the propulsion comes from the armor’s gauntlets, which you control by holding a pair of PlayStation Move sticks and pressing one of the face buttons. Depending on where you point them, you’ll change the course of your flight, so if you want to go forward, you point them behind you, and in order to turn, you aim them towards the sides. You get the gist, right?
Flying through rings and holographic icons was easy enough after a little while, but how about shooting stuff? That part took a bit more practice, since the laser that shoots out of the glove comes from the base of the palm, so my aiming had to be a tad exaggerated in order to hit the targets, but with time that also became second nature. Along with shooting, there’s a punching attack that required me to hold another one of the face buttons and actually do the motion of a punch in order to hit a shielded drone or clear some rubble out of the way.
The only real hurdle I found playing Iron Man VR came from the PSVR and Move hardware, which have always been a little fiddly for me to wear and use. I still have trouble comfortably keeping the headset on right without having outside light come in and mess up the illusion, and the control stick button layout always confounds me due to me being used to the DualShock controller. While I’m sure these problems could be easily solved by having more familiarity with the hardware, I still hold hope that future iterations of it will make for a smoother experience all throughout.
Considering how big of a push Sony is making with PSVR, even going so far as already placing a trademark for the new version of its hardware to coincide with the newly-announced PlayStation 5, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next versions of their virtual reality gadgets will get even better. Iron Man VR is an impressive demonstration of how far VR has come, but I’m still in doubt how long it can keep its gameplay fresh for a full-fledged game. Prove me wrong, Camuflaj!
Iron Man VR is scheduled to be released on February 28th, 2020, on PlayStation VR.