‘Tis truly written in the annals of modern entertainment – “every blockbuster film should be accompanied by a game bearing the same title.” The latest in the Iron Man film series is no exception – even as Tony Stark descended, armor and all, on the silver screen, so did his counterpart on Android and iOS devices. And he did so in a style that was very unlike those of other superheroes in the gaming world – in the form of an endless runner (all right, flyer!) a la Temple Run, with slices of Fruit Ninja (yes, pun intended) thrown in.
Yes, you read that right. Unlike other superhero-oriented games that tend to be action-oriented bash ’em ups and shooters, Iron Man 3 takes the endless flying route. You get into your armor and well, start flying. Your path of course is littered with dangers large and small, varying from huge alien bosses to floating mines to signboards (how can a signboard be dangerous? Just try flying into one at warp speed!). And of course, as you are a grade A(venger) superhero and not some idol thief being pursued by simians, you have the option to wreak havoc on your adversaries – you can swipe across enemies or tap on them to unleash hell on them. Depending on how well you fly and fire, you accumulate points which you can use to get improved suits and upgrade weapons.
The game looks gorgeous – you can see the armor shine in the sun and some of the explosions are spectacular – and plays relatively smoothly if you are playing it on a relatively high-end device (read new iPad, iPhone 4S/5, and Androids with decent processing muscle). Controls are relatively simple – you can tilt your iPhone to move from side to side or slide your finger across the lower part of the display, and tapping on an enemy releases your firepower.
So it looks good, gets you in the suit, gets you in the air, lets you shoot at baddies, and even has some witty text chatter between Tony, Jarvis and Potts. Top this with a “free” price tag, although you can buy credits to move up in the game, and you would think that the gaming avatar of Iron Man 3 is pretty much a must-have.
Well, not quite. Grounding the game are a number of annoyances. To start with it, it is a massive download at over 600 MB, and can test a device’s resources sorely – stay airborne for more than ten minutes and you will see lags appearing. The control system may be simple, but it isn’t perfect – dodging and firing at the same time is just too tedious. And then there is the matter of lucre – access to repairs and new suits requires money. Yes, you can fly around and accumulate credits but that path can be tedious. And unlike other runners where you have the option to restart within seconds of your last failure, here you have to twiddle your thumbs while your armor is being repaired, which pretty much ruins the momentum of the game. Yes, you can speed things up, but then you again have to lighten your purse. Also while the game gives you access to three suits, getting the other 15 will require either a fair bit of cash or a lot of playing – and with that control scheme, playing a lot can be painful.
All of which stops Iron Man 3 from being the classic that it could have been. Honestly, we would not have objected to a tad less graphics-rich version, even if it came with a price tag, provided it played faster and had a better control system. Eye candy can only get you so far, and what’s the point of being a billionaire if you have to keep flying around to collect credits and cash!?
Our advice? Download it if you are a rabid Iron Man fan. If you want just a good constant flying game, get Verticus instead (made, ironically, by Stan Lee, the man who created Iron Man). And if by some stroke of good fortune, you happen to be Tony Stark, just get into the lab and scream: “Fix this, Jarvis!”