If you don’t know your superheroes, you might have glanced at Iron Man and had him down as a dull robot-faced crime fighter. He’s actually one of Marvel’s coolest characters - a billionaire playboy genius with a ’70s ‘stache, an eye for the ladies and a heart of actual steel. And that’s before Tony Stark puts on his self-designed flying armour and becomes the Invincible Iron Man. Beat that Peter Parker with your poorly paid photojournalism and annoying girlfriends. Next month’s big budget Iron Man film looks promising enough to attract the worldwide love old shellhead deserves. Exclusively seeing the game of the movie in action at Marvel’s disappointingly not top-secret New York HQ was enough to make us think that he’s also got potential as a videogame hero.
Sega developers Secret Level have gone for all out military action here - it’s probably best thought of as a flying shooter along the lines of Ace Combat, only minus the cumbersome plane of course. Although the training levels in the Mk 1 and Mk 2 suits have you flame-throwering enemies on the ground, for most of the game your jet boots will be thrusting you across huge open landscapes and into battle with fighter planes, attack choppers, tanks and the giant armoured supervillian, Power Monger.
The plot follows the film closely in updating the original comic book origin of Iron Man. When he’s kidnapped and forced to make a devastating weapon, Tony Stark ‘does an A-Team’ (ask your Dad) and instead welds together an armoured suit allowing him to escape. Uncovering a dastardly global domination plan he decides to upgrade his armour and don it again to save the world.
This progression of increasingly badass suits of armor is followed in the game. Your first suit, the Mk 1, is a bit Tin Man meets nightclub bouncer. But you try creating techno armour while held hostage in Afghanistan! Necessarily crude, the silver prototype does feature some decent flame-throwers useful for escaping from terrorists. Back home, Tony comes up with a nicer sleek silver suit featuring limited flying capabilities that you can test out in the second training level. This is actually the Silver Centurion armour though, a souped-up version of the suit from Iron Man issue 200! The final armour has even better flying capabilities and comes fully loaded with weaponry. Best of all, red and gold go together. Glimpsed in the game trailer, the Stealth armour allowed Iron Man to camouflage himself in the comic books, Metal Gear Solid 4-style, although we’re not sure exactly when you’ll be able to use it.