Release Date: April 2010
With the arrival of the San Diego Comic-Con comes the announcement of the inevitable video game based on one of next year's big summer movies, Iron Man 2. Sega had tasked developer Secret Level to work on the original game last year, and the results were less than pleasing, especially for die-hard Iron Man fans. This year, Sega is back with Secret Level (this time re-branded as an internal studio) at the helm, and the con was the first place a playable version of the game was shown. Attendees and press alike couldn't get their hands on the pre-alpha build just yet, but a guided tour of the demo shows that the developers are listening to the complaints that gamers had about last year's iteration.
The first thing people will notice about the game is the graphics. The camera is zoomed in closer on Tony Stark in comparison to the first title, making the action feel a bit more personal. There's some pretty good detail seen on the Iron Man costume and some nice light refractions coming from the metallic paint job on the suit. Enemies also receive the same amount of detail, with some metallic shine to their bodies and items, such as bolt placements, showing up pretty clearly on all of the robots present. The camera has also been fixed up this time around. It holds steady, and there's less bouncing when you're walking — a huge, irritating problem in the first game.
The demo level started out in an indoor facility where Tony Stark was fighting off a few mechanized enemies. The producer of the game informed us that the focus is now less on open-world battlefields and more on tight, focused levels where the action is close. This was well demonstrated in the level, with the player firing off repulsion blasts and kicking enemies while looking for the exit. The producer also stressed the importance of the game moving on without cut scenes interrupting gameplay. Through the level, events, such as transitions from indoor to outdoor environments and reinforcements coming in, went on without any obligatory camera pans.
Flying seems to be easier to handle this time around as well. While we weren't given the controls ourselves, we could see that the transition between ground combat and aerial combat was better this time around. It also seemed to be easier to hover instead of relying on the constant fluctuation between flying and landing.
Enemies seem to be going toward the larger and more menacing route in this iteration. All of the enemies were at least twice the size of your character, and although they could be defeated, some of them took some work to get rid of. Aside from the aforementioned robots, you have giant walkers that try to stomp the hero into oblivion and a mid-boss that looks like a giant spider with turrets all over its back.
One blessing and curse from last year's game was the suit's energy management system. While it was great to be able to route power to necessary fields in order to be more maneuverable or destructive, the process of re-routing from one area to another was cumbersome, especially during combat situations. To fix this issue, the game now has an automatic re-routing protocol that sends power automatically to the necessary places, depending on the situation. Flying, for example, now has power re-routed to maneuverability but nothing for defenses while ground combat gives you all of the power and limited power for movement. The mechanic seems good on paper, but it will take some more playtime to see if the change is noticeable from a gameplay perspective.Although the game was only in a pre-alpha state, Iron Man 2 looks promising. The combat looks frantic enough, the environments look better, and the promise that the game will barely follow the movie and strike out its own path in the movie universe makes it more ambitious than the predecessor. Still, this is a movie-based title, and with the calendar moving closer to the May 2010 movie release, it'll be interesting to see just how well this game can erase the bad memories of the previous title.
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