DEVELOPERS: Camouflaj/Endeavor One
PUBLISHERS: Sony Interactive Entertainment/Oculus Studios
REVIEWED ON: Meta Quest 2 from a code provided by the developer.
In 2019, one of the biggest surprises during a Sony State of Play early in the year was the reveal of Marvel’s Iron Man VR, a game that was selling the ultimate Iron Man experience by allowing the player to literally become the Armored Avenger. After a few delays, it would eventually launch in the middle of 2020 and delivered on its promise with a digital superhero adventure unlike any other thanks to a well-crafted story, terrific performances from the likes of Josh Keaton, Jennifer Hale, Chantelle Barry and others, not to mention a near perfect marriage of technology and the intellectual property developer Camouflaj was allowed to play with.
As terrifically designed and transformative as it was, however, what lessened the escapism was the technology Marvel’s Iron Man VR was built for. The player became Iron Man when they donned the PlayStation VR headset with their Move controllers in hand, but long loading times, graphical fidelity, and the cumbersome tracking system of the unit – not to mention the headset’s cables – threatened to undermine the fantasy the developers had built. It didn’t stop Marvel’s Iron Man VR from being a truly one of its kind digital superhero adventure, but in the back of your mind you couldn’t help thinking that it could be better on something like a PSVR2 or another VR platform entirely.
Barely 2 months ago, the team responsible for the creation of Marvel’s Iron Man VR dropped a bombshell when they announced that not only were they joining the Oculus Studios family, but also bringing their debut comic book outing to the Meta Quest 2 platform. While it doesn’t carry the “remastered” or “definitive edition” sub-title, Marvel’s Iron Man VR on the Meta Quest 2 is easily the best way to play an already great VR game, correcting the flaws of the PSVR original, and honestly warrants getting into the Meta Quest 2 ecosystem even if you’ve already played it in its first incarnation.
On the surface, this latest update of Marvel’s Iron Man VR is identical to the one published 2 years ago. You’re getting the same 10-chapter story where through the use of intuitive motion controls and VR technology you boost through the sky, trash drones using rocket powered punches, repulsors, plus other weaponry like smart missiles and partake in unforgettable set pieces such as a mid-air plane rescue in the early hours. Post launch, Marvel’s Iron Man VR received a patch that included new weapons which you can purchase right away with the currency you earn by doing well in story missions, timed races and combat challenges.
Once you really dig into it though, you quickly discover this is no mere port with the most noticeable difference being how quickly you can get into the game and how tighter the controls feel. As affordable as PSVR is, it’s not without its flaws, with the main ones being setting up the camera at the optimum angle to track your controllers correctly and all of the cables needed to play. With the Meta Quest 2, you simply need to put on the goggles, draw your area, and immediately get into the action. For those who passed on PSVR because of space issues where you live and missed out on this game, the Meta Quest 2 eliminates all of those hurdles, allowing you to become Iron Man with even just a tiny area square needed to enjoy playing.
The controls here will be familiar to those who played Marvel’s Iron Man VR on PSVR, but because of how they’re tracked, movement and actions are far more precise. When completing the bonus races for example, it was far easier to boost around corners and move around, allowing you to get close to the best times of even the development staff. With the PSVR version, the camera could lose track of what you were doing if you turned away ever so slightly which threw off your rhythm and that simply isn’t a problem here one bit.
Being able to adjust your view is still helpful – intuitively mapped to the Meta Quest 2’s analog sticks – but you can also get through the game without having to rely on this function at all as you more or less have a full 360-degree range of movement. You may want to pace yourself though, because you rarely get a moment to catch your breath too as loading times are lightning fast. Don’t expect to kill time shooting targets and punching floating objects here.
Beyond speeding up the loading times and tightening the controls, Marvel’s Iron Man VR looks much sharper on the Meta Quest 2 with some areas, namely Shanghai, getting a significant overhaul. There’s a narrative reason provided why the streets are empty, but on PSVR, your imagination had to fill in a lot of gaps when it came to the city skyline. Buildings were formless structures with simple white squares for windows and a few banners were placed here and there for added flourish. Here the city feels much more alive as buildings look more like, well, buildings, and there’s much more signage posted about too.
For those disappointed you could only teleport about in Tony Stark’s garage and a later area that we won’t spoil here for those haven’t had the Marvel’s Iron Man VR experience, you can now freely walk about these areas. If you simply wish to jump to where you need to go, you can turn teleporting back on, but being able to get up close and personal in Tony’s living area just further immerses you in the Iron Man universe such that you’ll probably leave teleporting off entirely.
The story of Marvel’s Iron Man VR plays out the same, but there is an added epilogue that ties up this pocket universe should Camouflaj never work on the property again, whether because they can’t or chose to move onto other projects. The narrative framing device of Tony monologuing between chapters is improved here as well. Whereas once you saw text pop up in a black void accompanied by some voice over from Josh Keaton, here it’s framed as Tony performing a lecture in front of an audience. Sadly, you can’t see anyone in the crowd, but at the very least you do here rustling, coughs and applause to remind you that you’re essentially delivering a speech.
About the only way the original version of Marvel’s Iron Man VR outclasses what’s now available on Meta Quest 2 is that the headset is simply more comfortable to wear during extended play sessions. If you have or are planning to get a Meta Quest 2 to play this game – which you very much should – pick up the official elite strap at the bare minimum. Out of the box, you can experience some discomfort with the included strap as it doesn’t quite distribute the weight of the headset well enough as unlike PSVR, all of the tech is housed within the unit and not aided by a console to handle some of the computing.
When it launched in 2020, Marvel’s Iron Man VR was a game changing comic book video game that allowed you to truly roleplay as a superhero like nothing else before it. Free of the limitations of PSVR, it’s even better thanks to the freedom and technology offered by the Meta Quest 2 hardware with tighter controls, better visuals, and faster loading times. Even with PSVR2 set to arrive in early 2023, Marvel’s Iron Man VR on the Meta Quest 2 is easily a system selling piece of software and a must purchase if you already have the device.
Marvel’s Iron Man VR is available now on Meta Quest 2. It’s also available on PSVR and can be enjoyed on PlayStation 4 natively and PlayStation 5 through the use of an adaptor.