Review: Now on better tech, ‘Iron Man VR’ soars

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Back in mid-2020, in the deep heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Iron Man VR on PlayStation VR. At the time, it was a godsend, as lockdowns and mass closures meant I was stuck in the house. But by sliding on the PSVR headset, I could go anywhere, and be anyone — and that summer, “I was Iron Man!” Now, more than two years later, Iron Man VR is available on the Meta Quest 2, and nearly all the issues I had with the game previously have been rectified, making for not only the best version of the game but one of the best superhero games in recent memory.

In my first review, I gushed about how developer Camouflaj was able to take the idea of becoming Marvel’s founding Avenger and adapt it so seamlessly to a video game, and at the time its biggest shortcomings were solely a result of the tech it was running on. The PSVR is a neat VR rig, for sure, but being tethered to your PlayStation 4 with thick, unwieldy cables meant your range of motion was always hampered. This, coupled with spotty Move controller detection, resulted in too many instances of me fighting the hardware, rather than the enemies being beamed into my eyes.

Right off the bat, Quest 2 gives you the much-needed 360-degree mobility to fully enjoy Iron Man VR. The Quest controllers are tracked by the headset itself, as opposed to a camera placed on top or below your TV, giving you unparalleled freedom to move around without being tethered. Should you stray too far from the play area you designated, the Quest’s “Guardian Zone” will let you know.

Screenshot via Camouflaj

Playing on this newer hardware means I can move around a self-designated play area of about 6 feet by 6 feet, and I often begin a play session in front of my TV (old habits die hard) and end it next to my couch and lamp. But in-game, I’m zooming around my compound in Malibu, hunting Ghost (best known from the Ant-Man And The Wasp film) around Shanghai, or defending a Helicarrier from rogue Stark Industry drones, and I’m having an absolute blast while doing it. And most importantly, I feel safe while playing.

Iron Man VR uses the Quest controllers to let you fly — orienting your palms facedown activates your repulsors, letting you hover, and then slightly moving your hands allows you to change direction to fly up, down, or strafe side to side. As you’d imagine, you also use your repulsors to shoot enemies with simple blasts, powerful punch attacks, and more. It’s fluid and intuitive, and it really helps sell the idea that you’re billionaire Tony Stark, trying to right the wrongs you set upon the world as a former arms manufacturer and dealer.

Completing each of the game’s 12 missions earns you upgrade points that allow you to upgrade your armor, and the more you play, it becomes apparent that Iron Man VR is a much deeper experience than most virtual reality apps. As I wrote back in 2020, I’m not sure I’ve ever played a comic book video game that truly makes you feel like the hero you are playing as. Iron Man VR on the Quest 2 is so incredibly immersive, and even simple rail shooting missions are fun and exciting now that your arm and hand movements map directly to Tony’s repulsors. It’s not only the best superhero VR ever, but it also’s one of the best VR games I’ve ever played — and having played through it twice, I stick to my assessment.

Marvel’s Iron Man VR

Freedom of motion is not the only thing that Quest 2 brings to the table — the game’s load times have been drastically cut. Loading between levels feels seamless, whereas previously, an entire minute (or more) would go by as you stood there, staring at nothing. All of that has been remedied, thanks to the Quest 2’s flash storage, which easily trounces the PlayStation 4’s ancient spinning hard drive. Camouflaj did a stellar job adapting Iron Man VR to Meta’s headset, and while the graphical fidelity has taken a slight hit, the trade-offs are well worth it. I’d much rather have true 360-degree freedom and movement — and controllers that are constantly picked up — than more realistic graphics.

Lastly — and again, this might have just been a personal thing — but playing the game on PSVR, I would often succumb to motion sickness and have to stop playing after 30 minutes or so, and it sometimes took hours to settle and bounce back to normal. I’ve been playing Iron Man VR for weeks now and have yet to experience that same queasy, unsettling feeling. I don’t understand how or why this is, but it’s nice to be able to put on a headset and be fully immersed without wondering if the rest of my day would be ruined by an upset stomach or headaches.

Iron Man VR on Quest 2 is the definitive version of what was already an amazing game. The movement and blasting are near perfect, and there’s no Marvel hero better suited for a VR game experience. That being said, I’d love Camouflaj to try their hand at a VR Spider-Man game, as swinging across New York City’s skyline with this type of freedom would be exhilarating. The tech has finally caught up to the developers’ ambitions, and it remains to be seen if we’ll see another new-and-improved version once the PSVR2 debuts in 2023, but even if so, Sony’s new tech will still be tethered to the PlayStation 5. The Quest version of this game is the version you want, and if you’re lucky enough to find a headset under your tree this holiday season, Iron Man VR is the must-own app to have.

This review is based on the Quest 2 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Camouflaj.

Iron Man VR
Fantastic

Iron Man VR has made its way onto Quest 2, and many of the issues that plagued the previous release have been fixed, solidifying it as the definitive Iron Man experience.